Pregnancy: Exercise During Pregnancy
Maintaining a regular exercise routine throughout your pregnancy can help you stay healthy and feel your best. It can also improve your posture and decrease some common discomforts like backaches and fatigue. There is evidence that it may prevent gestational diabetes (diabetes that develops during pregnancy), relieve stress, and build more stamina needed for labor and delivery.
If you were physically active before your pregnancy, you should be able to continue your activity with modifications as necessary. You can exercise at your former level as long as you are comfortable and have your doctor's approval. Low impact aerobics are encouraged versus high impact. Do not let your heart rate exceed 140 beats per minute. The pregnant competitive athlete should be closely followed by an obstetrical provider.
If you have never exercised regularly before, you can safely begin an exercise program during pregnancy after consulting with your health care provider. Do not try a new, strenuous activity. Walking and swimming are considered safe to initiate when pregnant. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise per day on most if not all days of the week, unless you have a medical or obstetric complication.
Who Should Not Exercise?
If you have a medical problem, such as asthma, heart disease or uncontrolled Type 1 diabetes, exercise may not be advisable. Exercise may also be harmful if you have an obstetric condition such as:
- Bleeding or spotting
- Weak cervix
Avoid aerobic exercise during pregnancy if you have:
- Hemodynamically significant heart disease
- Restrictive lung disease
- Incompetent cervix/cerclage
- Multiple gestation at risk for premature labor
- Persistent second- or third-trimester bleeding
- Placenta previa after 26 weeks of gestation
- Premature labor during the current pregnancy
- Ruptured membranes
- Preeclampsia/pregnancy-induced hypertension
Take precautions with aerobic exercise during pregnancy if you have:
- Severe anemia
- Unevaluated maternal cardiac arrhythmia
- Chronic bronchitis
- Poorly controlled type 1 diabetes
- Extreme morbid obesity
- Extreme underweight (BMI <12)
- History of extremely sedentary lifestyle
- Intrauterine growth restriction in current pregnancy
- Poorly controlled hypertension
- Orthopedic limitations
- Poorly controlled seizure disorder
- Poorly controlled hyperthyroidism
- Heavy smoker
Consult your health care provider before beginning an exercise program. Your health care provider can offer personalized exercise guidelines, based on your medical history.