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facts-300wIn this exercise crazy era, most women know that exercise during pregnancy is safe. Yet, when it comes to the particulars such as —Is it ok to work my abs? How much is too much? Should I keep my heart rate low? Which exercise is best? moms-to-be need their questions answered. Now that you’re expecting, are you afraid to start or keep exercising? We hope this information will help you get the activity you need during pregnancy.

There is a myth out there we want to dispel, “If you weren’t exercising before you got pregnant, now is not the time to start.This is FALSE. The reality is that pregnancy is the ideal time to get moving. The real hazard today is inactivity, which could contribute to excess weight gain, aches and pains, or several serious medical problems.

Remember the first step before beginning or continuing exercise at your current level, is checking with your midwife or health care provider. 

woman-on-ball-200wExercise Safely

Exercising during pregnancy has wonderful benefits – exercise can help keep you healthy and in shape for labor and childbirth while lifting your spirits. Regular exercise can decrease some of the discomforts of pregnancy such as backaches and fatigue. If you were physically active before pregnancy, you should be able to continue your activities in moderation. It is important not to exercise at your former level. If you haven't been exercising before conceiving, you can safely begin after consulting with your midwife or health care provider.

Whether you're a regular exerciser looking to continue during pregnancy or a former couch potato looking to get moving, here are keys to keeping you and baby safe:

pilates-200wPilates

Many moms-to-be find Pilates to be a great exercise to do both during and after their pregnancy. Why? One reason is that Pilates builds core strength. If abdominal, back, and pelvic floor muscles are toned, they will support a more comfortable pregnancy and delivery. And after baby is born? Pilates is a great exercise for helping new moms get their figures back!

Get Good Instruction

First, check with your doctor of midwife before beginning any exercise program. Next, if you have never done Pilates before, find a prenatal Pilates class, or an instructor who can give you a lot of one on one attention. It is not recommended that you begin doing Pilates on your own with a book or DVD. If you already have a Pilates background, it is still ideal to take a prenatal Pilates class or work directly with an instructor. Error on the safety side.

pregnant-pushups-300wIs Aerobic Exercise Safe?

Gone are the days when doctors worried that aerobic exercise might place the developing fetus or mother-to-be at risk. Today it is widely acknowledged that moderate-intensity aerobic activity has very low risks for healthy pregnant women. Instead, there are many profound health benefits of cardiovascular exercise during pregnancy for you and your growing baby. Women who are physically fit tend to have easier, healthier pregnancies, and give birth to healthy babies.

 

Benefits of Aerobic Exercise During Pregnancy

  • When fit you are more likely to give birth to a leaner baby.
  • Lean babies are less likely to become overweight or develop diabetes as adults.
  • If you breastfeed, improved immune function will carry over to your baby the first several months of life.
  • Larger placenta, which in turn provides an increased nutrient base for the baby.
  • Helps prevent excessive weight gain during pregnancy, which reduces risk of gestational diabetes.
  • A fit mom bounces back into shape after delivery much more quickly than a sedentary one.
  • Provides needed stamina for labor and delivery.
  • Women who exercise aerobically are much less likely to experience lower back pain, constipation and bloating.
  • Increases energy and improves mood.

How Much Aerobic Exercise Is Safe?

First always consult with your midwife or other health care provider, but we recommend a minimum activity level of 30 minutes every day if possible. If you work or other responsibilities make it difficult to exercise for 30 minutes continually, try instead finding two 15 minutes blocks of time just for you and baby. Fortunately, you can enjoy the same health benefits if you break your daily workout into shorter sessions during the day. Also, be sure to read the Keys Of Safe Pregnancy Exercise.

Third Trimester Limits On Aerobic Exercise

What was once an easy workout through the second trimester of pregnancy, may prove to be too challenging by the third trimester. To avoid overtaxing your body, slowly start reducing the intensity of your workouts as your delivery day nears. If you have been doing an impact exercise such as jogging, it is now time to switch it up and try fitness walking or an elliptical machine. Continue to monitor your level of perceived exertion during cardiovascular exercise and stay within a comfortable range, it's like switching to an aerobic maintenance program.

When Not To Increase or Start Aerobic Activity

The size and functional capacity of the placenta—the ability to exchange oxygen and CO2, and nutrients and waste products—is set midway through pregnancy because the placenta stops growing at 20 weeks. Therefore, you should not try to increase your aerobic capacity, or start an aerobic program, in the last half of pregnancy. If you were previously sedentary or relatively less fit, a fitness walking program will provide many of the same health benefits (though to a lesser degree) and can be done safely throughout your pregnancy.

Best Aerobic Activities During Pregnancy

spinning-200wLet's Ride!

The good news with starting a low impact workout like riding on a stationary bike is that you can start at any time during your pregnancy. Pedaling a stationary bike places no weight on the joints, which is easier on the joints than many weight-bearing exercises. As long as your midwife or health care professional gives you the green light, you can start riding and continue through your pregnancy as long as you don't have any complications.

Choosing A Bike

One thing to consider when choosing a stationary bike is to look for one that has a broad, comfortable seat. A best choice while you are expecting might be a recumbent bike with a nice cushioned seat and pedals in the front. Some bikes come with a built-in heart rate monitor, or you may already have a heart rate monitor of your own. Because a stationary bike normally only works the the lower body, you might look for a model with dual action arms so you can also work out your upper body.

pregnant-yoga-200wWhy Try Yoga?

There is probably no better way to prepare physically for childbirth than with yoga. The practice involves not just exercise but mindfulness as well, opening both the body and mind to what lies ahead. Prenatal yoga teaches a mother-to-be to connect more fully to the life growing inside her.

Benefits of Prenatal Yoga

Yoga can be an ideal choice to help keep in shape during pregnancy. It incorporates stretches and exercises that can be modified for each trimester as the body changes. The gentle stretching taught in yoga can reduce fatigue, tension and tightness, while promoting relaxation. This age-old practice can help with keeping limber, toning muscles, and improving balance and circulation, with little, if any impact on joints. The practice of yoga may decrease back pain, swelling of the ankles and feet, constipation, nausea and other common discomforts of pregnancy.

pregnant-shopping-200wWalking During Pregnancy

Fitness walking can be a tremendous way to exercise during pregnancy. It is one of the easier ways to start exercising if you haven't previously been active. It can be as gentle or as challenging as you need it to be. Walking eases constipation, along with aches and pains, helping you to sleep better at night. With common sense and moderation, you should be able to enjoy a walking routine throughout all of your nine months of pregnancy. Always talk to your midwife or health care provider before starting.

Pay Attention To Walking Posture

  • Stand tall, chin level, with a natural cure to your back.
  • Don't hunch your shoulders.
  • Keep arms relaxed, swinging them forward and back, not across the body.

swim-calm-300wSafe Workout

Even women who have not been engaged in a formal exercise program can safely begin a moderate water aerobics program. Because of the property of buoyancy, a person can weigh up to 90 percent less in the water. This allows a woman to do weight-bearing exercises in the water with a much greater degree of safety than if they were done on land. So pick out a cute swimsuit, grab a towel - you don't even have to get your hair wet!

Benefits

  • Easy on joints, even when you are bouncing in the water.
  • Feel stronger, more energetic.
  • Being in a temperature-controlled pool will help you maintain your body temperature during exercise.
  • This type of exercise has been known to reduce edema, or the swelling of the legs and ankles that often occurs during pregnancy.

running-stretch-300wGuidelines for Pregnant Runners

If you were running before becoming pregnant, you don't need to stop just because you're expecting. That being said, it depends on if you qualify with a healthy, low-risk pregnancy. Being at risk for certain medical conditions can halt even seasoned runners from running during pregnancy. Discuss your health and running schedule with your midwife or health care provider as soon as you know you are pregnant.

Where Should You Run?

If you are going to keep running, your belly and all, where is it safe to run? It is suggested you run on even terrain, avoiding hills. Running on a track can keep you close to your car when you need to call it quits. Because of the increased pressure on your bladder, it's a good idea to plan your outdoor runs around a bathroom stop (or two!). As your center of gravity changes later on in pregnancy, your abdomen gets bigger so you're at a greater risk for falls. It is recommended that you try running indoors on a treadmill during the second and third trimesters. As a seasoned runner you know that different muscles are used on the treadmill so adjust your mileage accordingly.

swimming-300wLet's Get Wet!

One of the "coolest" exercises for expectant women is swimming. Unlike some other forms of aerobic exercise, swimming really does keep you COOL. Because swimming is low-impact, easy on the joints and therefore carries minimal injury risk, most expectant mothers can swim for the entire pregnancy. Swimming lets you feel weightless no matter how much you gain! Swimming is a great way to get and stay fit during pregnancy Swimming is great exercise because it uses both large muscle groups, arms and legs.

A Good Time To Swim

Choose to swim early in the morning and/or during work hours, which means the pool will be mostly empty – and this has the benefit of meaning less noise and fewer people coughing and urinating in the pool as well, which creates a generally healthier environment. It will also reduce the chances of people swimming into you or children dive bombing right by your face.

weights-200wWeightlifting

Many women don't even realize that weight lifting is appropriate while pregnant. During pregnancy, the goal of your weightlifting would be to work every major muscle group during your routine, utilizing somewhat lighter weights than normal. The muscles you work will come in very handy during labor, and even more so during your postpartum period. If you haven't done strength training before, this is not the time to start a full-blown weight program. Definitely discuss this choice with your midwife or health care provider. Starting a weight training program is very traumatic on the body. This is not the kind of stress we want on your body at this time. The post-partum phase may be the best time to conduct a more serious "get fit" program if you have been sedentary before getting pregnant.

Who Can Weight Train While Pregnant?

If you have been weightlifting prior to becoming pregnant, you can continue your routine as long as the activities fit the constraints described below. The goal now as a mom-to-be would be maintenance and not improvement. Therefore, don't push yourself.

woman-pooch-measure-200wHow to get Started

When you...

When to Start

If you exercised during pregnancy and had an uncomplicated vaginal delivery...

Benefits Of Exercise After Pregnancy

  • Promote weight loss
  • Improve your cardiovascular fitness
  • Restore your muscle strength
  • Boost your enery level
  • Improve your mood
  • Relieve stress
  • Help prevent amd promote recovery from post partum depression

woman-rockclimbing-200wIs Exercising Different For An Athlete?

You are an athlete, very fit. You have a coach, or maybe an entire support team. Now you are adding a midwife or other health care professional to your team. A new goal on your horizon. LISTEN to your new expanded team. This information is provided ONLY to spark questions and provide excitement for the changes in your new path. 

How Hard Can I Exercise?

Ultimately your team helps you decide, and what sport you are involved in plays a part. Most fit athletes exercise within the range of "somewhat difficult to difficult" in the first half of their pregnancy, and then shift down to "somewhat difficult" in the second half. Athletes may continue interval training in the first half of pregnancy. If you are very athletic and want to continue more strenuous workouts, monitor your resting heart rate to prevent over-training.