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Know These Exercise Warning Signs

When you're pregnant, exercise can help you feel better, sleep more soundly, and build stamina for getting through labor. Your body has ways of telling you when to slow down or when there's a problem, so tune in to how you feel. Take a moment to learn more about the warning signs that you’re doing too much.

When to Stop Exercising

Take a break if you have any of the following:

Shortness of breath. A growing baby can push against your lungs and make it harder to take a full breath, especially in your last few months. Even earlier in pregnancy, the hormonal changes that affect your lungs can make you feel short of breath. But if you have increased shortness of breath or any other breathing changes that are unusual, call your doctor or midwife right away.

Overheating. If you feel yourself getting hot, slow down. Getting overheated can cause some serious problems for your growing baby, including birth defects. Make sure you drink plenty of water while exercising. Stay safe and take it easy when you're exercising on hot days.

Dizziness. You're more likely to feel dizzy when you’re pregnant -- especially early in your second trimester. Dizziness during exercise, though, could cause you to fall. Don't risk it -- if you feel dizzy, take a break and lie down on your side. Call your doctor or midwife if the symptoms persist.

Pain in your back or hips. This is another sign your body's had enough for the time being. Stop what you're doing and take it easy.

When to Call Your Doctor

If you have any of the symptoms below, stop exercising right away and call your doctor or midwife:

Warning signs of preterm labor. It may be possible to stave off preterm labor if you and your doctor or midwife act quickly. Be on the lookout for:

  • Contractions, especially if they continue after you rest and drink water
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Unusual pain in your belly
  • Fluid leaking or gushing from your vagina

Trouble breathing. Breathing conditions such as asthma can be more serious when you’re pregnant. If you have asthma, always carry your inhaler. Phone your doctor or midwife if you have:

  • Lightheadedness or feeling like you might faint
  • Chest pain
  • Heart pounding
  • Rapid heartbeat

The following are not always related to exercise, but are certainly reasons to call the doctor.

Less movement from your baby. After 28 weeks, you should be able to count at least 10 movements in 2 hours while you are resting.

Severe or long-lasting headache. A headache should go away after rest (and Tylenol if rest alone doesn’t work). In rare cases, a headache could be a sign of preeclampsia, which is a more serious type of gestational hypertension (pregnancy-related high blood pressure).

Painful or swollen calves. Pregnancy, water retention, and swelling go together. However, swollen, red, and tender calves could be the sign of a blood clot. Your doctor or midwife needs to know immediately.

Exercise is a great way to stay fit and emotionally grounded while pregnant. But pay attention and be ready to back off or call your doctor or midwife if your body sends you any of these warning signals.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Nivin Todd, MD, FACOG on July 09, 2014

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