When you’re expecting, staying active can help set the stage for a healthier, happier pregnancy.
According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), exercising during pregnancy can improve your mood and relieve common complaints, including fatigue, constipation, swelling and back pain. Active moms-to-be may also have easier deliveries. A 2015 study published in Obstetrics & Gynecology found that women who exercise during pregnancy are 20 percent less likely to need a cesarean section and 31 percent less likely to give birth to babies with abnormally high birth weights.
The Dos and Don’ts of Safe Physical Activity
Women who are having healthy, uncomplicated pregnancies should exercise for at least 30 minutes almost every day, according to ACOG. Maximize your prenatal workout with the following safety tips:
- Do talk with your doctor before beginning a prenatal exercise program. Women who are at risk for preterm labor, who are carrying multiple babies, or who have high blood pressure or other complications may need to avoid exercise or take special precautions.
- Do stick with low-impact workouts, such as prenatal yoga or Pilates, walking, cycling on a stationary bike, and swimming. If you are a runner, you may be able to continue a light running or jogging program with your doctor’s permission.
- Don’t play contact sports, such as basketball or soccer. Other off-limits activities include scuba diving, skiing, horseback riding, jumping rope, kickboxing and, after you hit the 12-week mark, exercises that require you to lie flat on your back.
- Don’t exercise outside during hot weather. Warm outdoor temperatures increase your risk of becoming overheated, which can be dangerous for your baby.
- Don’t push yourself. Take a day off if you’re tired or not feeling well. Stop your workout and call your doctor immediately if you start having contractions, become dizzy or lightheaded, or notice shortness of breath or vaginal bleeding.