Pregnant With Twins? Exercise No-Nos

You may have heard a lot of confusing information about whether you can exercise safely while carrying twins. In fact, every pregnancy is different. Some twin pregnancies come with complication and risk -- others do not.

The question of how much you can exercise hinges on your specific risks. If you are at high risk for complications, your doctor may recommend that you put your exercise plans on hold until after your babies are born. Or, he or she may suggest that you cut back on exercising at around 20 to 24 weeks.

Before considering any exercise program, talk with your doctor about your specific risks and concerns. Then, make sure to learn what types of exercises are best to avoid, even if your doctor gives you the OK to exercise.

Exercises to Avoid

There are some types of exercise that are just too risky for any pregnant woman. Here are some to stay away from:

Exercise to lose weight. Depending on your pre-pregnancy weight, you can expect to gain about 37-54 pounds. This can be hard to take, both emotionally and physically, but save the calorie burning for after you give birth. As long as you eat a healthy diet, weight gain during pregnancy is a sign of your twins' healthy development.

Contact sports. Rough and tumble sports like soccer, basketball, and ice hockey come with a high risk of getting knocked in the stomach. Avoid these sports after the first trimester when your belly starts to get big and exposed.

Fall-prone activities. The risks outweigh the benefits when it comes to activities that require a lot of balance, such as skiing and horseback riding. Even riding a bike outdoors can be risky when you're not used to balancing a pregnant belly. After week 12 or 14, do your pedaling on a stationary bike.

High-altitude exercise. Even if you love the mountains, stay below 6,000 feet when you exercise. If you feel any symptoms of altitude sickness, such as headache, nausea, vomiting, or fatigue, call it quits for the day and call your doctor.

Continued

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

Overdoing it. Pushing to the point of exhaustion may boost athletic performance, but when you're pregnant, it can reduce blood flow to your uterus. During exercise you should be able to sing one round of “Happy Birthday” without running out of breath. If you can’t, you're pushing too hard.

Bouncing or jarring activities. Joints get looser during pregnancy, which can increase your risk of injury. Take a temporary vacation from high-impact aerobics and kickboxing.

Too much heat. Steer clear of Bikram and other forms of hot yoga while you're pregnant. On hot summer days, plan ahead so you can exercise in the cool of the morning or evening, or find a gym that has air conditioning.

Lying on your back. The extra weight of your pregnant belly can cut off circulation to your legs, feet, and uterus. Avoid yoga poses, crunches, and any other activities that call for lying on your back for more than a few minutes at a time.

Making Exercise Modifications

If your favorite sport appears on the list of no-nos, you may be able to continue, within reason. Talk with your doctor about ways to modify your exercise so it's safe during your pregnancy. Here are a few suggestions:

Less intensity. Instead of sprinting around the track, go for a light jog. Instead of hot yoga, look for a prenatal yoga class.

Shorten your workout.As your pregnancy progresses, you may find yourself tiring out more quickly. If all you can handle is a 10-minute walk, plan a couple of brief jaunts throughout the day.

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

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

There are many ways to exercise during pregnancy without risking your babies' health. Talk with your doctor first if you have any concerns about your exercise routine.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Trina Pagano, MD on August 13, 2014

Sources

SOURCES:

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Your Pregnancy and Childbirth: Month to Month, Women’s Health Care Physicians, 2010.

Cleveland Clinic: “Expecting Twins or Triplets.”

Heather J Alker, MD. Board Certified Obstetrician & Gynecologist, Childbirth Educator, Amherst, Massachusetts.

American Society for Reproductive Medicine: “Multiple Pregnancy and Birth: Twins, Triplets & Higher Order Multiples. A Guide for Patients.”

March of Dimes: “Multiples: twins, triplets and beyond - Pregnancy.”

American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: “Having Twins.” 

Walker A. The Harvard Medical School Guide to Healthy Eating During Pregnancy. McGraw-Hill, 2005.

Riley L. Pregnancy: The Ultimate Week-By-Week Pregnancy Guide. Meredith Books, 2006.

Brookside Associates Medical Education Division: “Activity Modifications During Pregnancy. In: Obstetric and Newborn Care - I.”

Boston Women’s Health Book Collective. Our Bodies, Ourselves: Pregnancy and Birth. Simon and Schuster, 2008.

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