Like, do you have to bounce around in a leotard, Jane Fonda style??
Is that the only option? Good news. No. Oh and there’s more good news. You can still exercise, even if you feel like this.
Ok, so now that we have that out of the way, let’s dig in a little deeper.
If I didn’t workout before pregnancy, I shouldn’t start now.
Myth! Turns out, even if you weren’t active before, pregnancy can be a great time to create some lasting healthy habits. Not only can it help you prevent excessive pregnancy weight gain, but it can also help prevent or decrease lower back pain, which is definitely common, especially later in pregnancy. It may seem natural that you’ll want to eat better, but it’s also ok to start on a new exercise regimen. Of course, just like if you were to start from scratch while not pregnant, you should start at a pace that you are comfortable with and build slowly.
I can’t lift weights or workout strenuously during pregnancy.
Myth and Truth. It is actually ok to continue weight lifting and resistance training even while pregnant. However, a general recommendation is not to lift super heavy. This recommendation exists even though there is not much specific evidence to support it. For specific activities to avoid, scroll down a bit.
Exercise will put me at risk for pre term labor.
Myth. For most pregnancies, the evidence shows that physical activity and exercise does not increase the risk of preterm labor. In fact, not only does no exercise not necessarily decrease the risk of pre-term birth, but some studies show that exercise might also actually decrease the risk of pre-term birth.
Exercise will decrease my chance of having a C-Section.
Truth! Exercise is shown to decrease the risk of pregnancy complications such as diabetes and pre-eclampsia. These complications are risk factors for having a C-Section, so exercise in turn will help decrease that chance.
Exercise will make my labor go faster.
Myth. Although exercise during pregnancy has plenty of benefits, it is not likely to decrease your duration of labor. Although you might be able to make yourself strong enough to break a bone in hubby’s hand when you squeeze it while you push 😉
Types of exercise to avoid:
- Activities with a high risk of falling or abdominal trauma
- Scuba Diving
- Exercise during the first few days of exposure to moderate to high altitude.
- Anything that requires you to lay flat on your back.
- Anything that would cause you to become dehydrated or overheated (like prolonged exercise in hot, humid weather or trying to swim laps in a hot tub. Pool temps should be no more than 90 degrees).
Stop exercising if you have:
- Vaginal bleeding
- Leakage of fluid
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Shortness of breath before you even start excercising
- Chest pain
- Muscle weakness
- Calf pain or swelling
- Decreased fetal movement
- ALWAYS stay hydrated, both during exercise and throughout the day. When you are exercising, pay special attention to your hydration status and drink more water.
- If you are feeling too hot, STOP, sit down, and drink water.
- Don’t do anything that puts you at risk for getting hit in the belly. That includes contact sports,
- If you have any medical conditions, either that existed before pregnancy (like high bood pressure) or that developed during pregnancy (like gestational diabetes), have a chat with your provider about any modifications you might need to make to an exercise regimen before you get started. It’s also a good idea to have a conversation about how intense your exercise should be if you’re not sure where to start.
I’m not making this stuff up
Poyatos-León, Raquel R (10/2015). “Effects of exercise during pregnancy on mode of delivery: a meta-analysis.”. Acta obstetricia et gynecologica Scandinavica (0001-6349), 94 (10), p. 1039.
Salvesen, Kjell Å KÅ (01/2014). “Does regular exercise in pregnancy influence duration of labor? A secondary analysis of a randomized controlled trial.”. Acta obstetricia et gynecologica Scandinavica (0001-6349), 93 (1), p. 73.
Owe, Katrine Mari KM (06/2012). “Exercise during pregnancy and the gestational age distribution: a cohort study.”. Medicine and science in sports and exercise (0195-9131), 44 (6), p. 1067.