Being pregnant doesn’t have to mean being sedentary. In fact, staying in shape can help you have a healthy pregnancy and even make labor easier!
Everyone’s body is different, and how much exercise is safe for you depends on a lot of factors. Before you do any new exercises, talk to your doctor to make sure it’s OK. For example, since I was already running regularly before getting pregnant, my doctor gave me the OK to keep running. If you don’t run, you should not start during pregnancy. Don’t worry – there’s no running required in the exercises on the next page.
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Staying in shape when you’re pregnant can make pregnancy so much better! Exercise can help prevent cankles, stave off lower back pain, and give you more energy.
Prenatal Exercise Tips
I’ve gotten quite a bit of advice from my doctors on what is and isn’t cool when it comes to prenatal exercise. Here is what they’ve told me:
- Don’t overheat. Take breaks, and drink lots of water. You don’t want your core body temperature getting above 101F, because this can be bad for the baby. 101F might seem high, but running on a hot day can send your temperature even higher.
- Take things slowly. Your body knows what it needs, so listen to what it’s telling you. Don’t push yourself too far too fast, and if it hurts, don’t do it.
- Watch your heart rate. I’ve gotten a little bit of conflicting advice on this, so ask your doctor! Some doctors have said that you don’t want your heart rate to go over 140bpm for an extended period. It’s OK if it spikes there occasionally, but take a break to bring it down if it stays high for more than a few minutes.
- Stay off of your back. The point at which this becomes an issue can vary – I’ve heard anywhere between 16 and 22 weeks – but once your uterus gets big, it’s not good for you to be on your back for too long. It puts pressure on a major vein. This won’t hurt your baby, but it can make you feel dizzy and even have some tingling or numbness in your extremities.
- Avoid heavy weights. You shouldn’t lift anything heavier than 20 to 30 pounds, unless your doctor says otherwise. For the exercises that use hand weights, don’t push it – use what’s comfortable.
There’s a common misconception that you should do no ab work at all during pregnancy, and from what I’ve read, that is only a half-truth. You should avoid some ab exercises – like crunches – because you shouldn’t be on your back. However, stronger ab muscles will help a lot when it’s time to push.
On the next page, check out some prenatal exercises to make your pregnancy and labor more comfortable!
Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by mr. toaster