Exercise is essential during pregnancy to maintain your health. Women who keep physically active while pregnant and less likely to experience issues such as back pain and tiredness. Exercise may also help to reduce your risk of pregnancy complications like blood clots and gestational diabetes. Finally, maintaining your physical fitness helps to prepare your body for labor. However, you should take precautions to make sure that your exercise regime doesn't harm you or your developing baby.
Activities to avoid
Although many forms of exercise are safe for you to take part in while you are pregnant, you should avoid activities that pose a greater risk. High risk activities in pregnancy include:
• Contact sports like basketball, softball and volleyball
• Horse riding, skiing and any other activities where you are likely to fall
• Any exercise that risks abdominal trauma
• Activities that involve a lot of jumping, skipping or running
• Bouncing while you stretch out during your warm up or cool down section
• Twisting your waist while you are standing up
• Exercise that requires you to lie on your back for more than a few minutes
• Activities that require you to hold your breath such as underwater swimming
• Any exercise when the weather is hot and humid
Exercise in moderation
If you are already physically active, you can usually continue with your chosen activity, as long as it is not one of the types of exercise mentioned above. You may need to reduce the intensity of your exercise, as you shouldn't allow your heart rate to rise above 140. You should also follow the signals that your body gives you, exercising at a level that feels comfortable.
If you are new to exercise
For anyone not physically active before pregnancy, as long as you get the go ahead from your doctor, there is no reason why you shouldn't be able to start low-intensity exercise during pregnancy.
Walking is a good activity to start with, though low-impact aerobics and swimming are also suitable activities. Whatever activity you choose, try to aim for 30 minutes of exercise most days each week.
Join a prenatal exercise class
Taking part in an aquanatal group or an antenatal yoga class, for instance, guarantees that the activity is suitable for you during pregnancy. Joining an exercise group for expectant moms also helps you to meet other pregnant women in your area, allowing you to meet up socially with them after your baby's birth.
Taking extra care
While most women can exercise safely during pregnancy, you should discuss physical activity with your practitioner in certain instances. For example, if you have a history of spotting during pregnancy, a weak cervix, recurrent miscarriages or premature delivery, exercise may pose a greater risk to you. Your doctor can, therefore, provide individual advice on activity based on your circumstances.
Maggie Martin is completing her PhD in Cell Biology, works as a lab tech for Mybiosource.com and administered ELISA kits in the diagnosis and treatment of various diseases. She contributes content on Biotech, Life Sciences, and Viral Outbreaks. Follow on Twitter @MaggieBiosource