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Pregnancy and Exercise - What is Safe for You and Your Baby

Updated on April 25, 2013

Disclaimer

This article is for information purposes only. Do not start an exercise program during pregnancy without first consulting a health care professional.

Pregnant Woman with Dumbbells
Pregnant Woman with Dumbbells | Source

Exercise is an important part of life and a great way to stay healthy while pregnant. Like with many other groups of people, there are special considerations that need to be taken into account when pregnant and exercising. Modifying your workout routine to accommodate your new body is very important to ensure you do not have any injuries to you or your baby during you pregnancy exercise. Below is some information that you will want to take into consideration when preparing to workout. Make sure you discuss these suggestion with your doctor prior to implementation.

Water Bottle
Water Bottle | Source

Overheating

Overheating is a major concern for pregnant women. If you overheat you can become dehydrated and this can cause a wide variety of issues during pregnancy including; low blood pressure, dry skin and lips, contractions and premature labour. You don't want to be dealing with any of these things during pregnancy, you will have enough to worry about. Make sure that while exercising that you have a good size water bottle to help replenish your fluids. If its a hot summer day you might consider waiting until evening to workout when it will be cooler, or investing in a gym membership where you can work out in an air conditioned atmosphere any time they are open. There are consideration for your heart rate on top of that. Some Ob-Gyns recommend to keep it under 140, others 150 beats per minute, while other sources say that if you can still talk while exercising your heart rate won't be too high. This is a matter you will want to discuss with you Ob-Gyn to determine what is safe for you.

Clothing

Make sure that your clothing choice is appropriate too. Wearing tight non natural fabrics will not allow your skin to breath and can also cause overheating, be aware of what you wear.

You may want to look into is a new sports bra while you are picking up some natural fiber clothing. With various changed in your breasts, especially them getting larger due to milk production, you may need a new sports bra. Protecting yourself from pain is important and a bra that is too small or even too big can reap havoc on sensitive breast tissues. Unfortunately you may need to invest in a few different bras over the course of your pregnancy as your breasts change.

Your running shoes may also need to change. Feet tend to increase in size while you are pregnant and shoes that are too tight will not only make your feet hurt but they can cause you to be off balance. Ensure that your gym shoes fit properly and your feet will thank you later!

Apple Juice
Apple Juice | Source

Decreasing Blood Sugar

Your blood sugar can also be a problem when exerting yourself during pregnancy. Pregnant women's blood sugar will drop much more quickly then non pregnant women while working out. Eating a healthy well balanced diet with enough calories will help prevent these blood sugar dips. Talk to your Ob-Gyn about how much you should eat based on the exercise you are doing, that way you can cover all your bases. Below I have included some recommendations on what to do if your blood sugar dips during or after exercise. Again talk to your Ob-Gyn to find out in advance what choices are right for you, these are merely guidelines.

Pink Exercise Ball
Pink Exercise Ball | Source

Lying on the Floor

Are you the crunch queen? During pregnancy you will want to avoid doing these flat on the floor, not for the reason you thing either. It is actually perfectly save to exercise abdominal muscles during pregnancy to keep them in shape, lying on your back after your first trimester is where you will get into problems. The reason for this is the pressure the baby is placing on your vena cava, the large blood vessel that your body uses to return blood back to the heart and lungs, can cause you to be light headed or effect the blood supply to your baby.

Have you ever tried to get up off your back holding a watermelon? Well this can also become an issue as pregnant women have extra weight and size to deal with. The difficulty that you experience getting up off the floor can actually cause strained muscles, which no one wants.

To avoid this issues you can use a work bench on an incline, feet towards the floor, or you can use an exercise ball if you are looking to improve your stability. Be careful if you choose to use a ball as they move around and your center of balance may be off due to your pregnancy.

Example of a Stability Ball Workout for Pregnancy

Heavy Lifting

Avoiding lifting heavy objects while you are pregnant isn't actually a restriction put in place to protect the baby. When you are pregnant your body releases hormones that actually loosen your joints and ligaments to prepare for child birth. These looser joints can cause to you be unbalanced and if you are unbalanced you could fall and hurt yourself or your baby.

Your back is also under a lot more strain due to the pressure of a growing baby. Moving to fast in certain ways can cause muscles in your back to pull easily. These muscles will not heal as quickly due to the strain on them. You don't want to be on bed rest to repair damaged back muscles.

Make sure to discuss lifting restrictions with you Ob-Gyn prior to starting any workouts that involve weights or exercise bands.

So What IS a good idea?

There are so many restrictions when you are pregnant, what should you do to keep yourself fit? Well as I said over and over, talk to your doctor to make sure that the exercises you are choosing are right for you. However here are some basic guidelines to follow;

  • If you did it before you can probably do it during. That is unless you are doing very strenuous exercise prior to pregnancy, like professional weightlifting.
  • Light weight exercises are fine, they are important for maintaining and building bone density.
  • Don't start something new if it will be a serious challenge, if you were not a runner before now is not the time to start.
  • Lying on your back is a no no, however using an exercise ball or an incline bench will allow you to do modified versions of exercises you were doing on the floor.

Make sure you speak to a professional trainer and or Ob-Gyn before setting up your pregnancy exercise plan and then get out there and have fun!

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