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Exercise Don’ts When You're Pregnant

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Exercises to Avoid continued...

Lying on your back. It’s fine to lie on your back for a few minutes. But as your uterus gets heavier, it can cut off circulation to your legs and feet, as well as to your baby. Avoid yoga poses, crunches, and any other activities that call for lying on your back longer than just a couple of minutes.

High-altitude exercise. If you visit the mountains while you’re pregnant, stay below 6,000 feet when you exercise. Talk with your doctor or midwife if you have questions so you don’t unnecessarily avoid healthy exercise. Here are signs of altitude sickness you should watch out for:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath

If you have any of these symptoms, call it quits for the day and call your doctor or midwife.

Deep-sea exploration. Put any plans to go scuba diving on hold. The change in pressure could put your baby at risk of decompression illness.

Making Exercise Modifications

If your favorite sport appears on the list of don’ts, you may be able to continue, within reason. Talk with your doctor or midwife about ways to modify your exercise so it's safe for your baby. Here are a few suggestions:

Reduce intensity. Instead of sprinting around the track, go for a light jog or a brisk walk. Instead of hot yoga, look for a prenatal yoga class.

Shorten your workout. As your pregnancy progresses, you may tire out more quickly. Save energy by breaking up your exercise into smaller sessions. If you can’t take a 30-minute walk, take several 10-minute walks throughout the day.

Shift your weight. Roll up a towel and put it under one side of your back so you can keep the blood flowing to your legs and uterus while you stretch.

Use lighter weights. More repetitions with lighter weights can keep your muscles strong without hurting your joints.

With these modifications, you have many ways to exercise during pregnancy that are good for you and for your baby’s health. Before you head out to the gym or field, talk with your doctor or midwife. Then go ahead and get moving!

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Traci C. Johnson, MD, FACOG on July 05, 2014
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