Pregnancy Exercise Guidelines

Women who do a moderate amount of exercise during pregnancy generally feel better throughout the pregnancy, have more stamina during labor and may even recover more quickly after childbirth. What are some basic rules of pregnancy exercise to be sure you follow?

1. Consult with your midwife or obstetrician prior to starting any pregnancy exercise routine to make sure you do not have any contraindications. Mothers who have the following pregnancy complications are typically advised not to exercise during pregnancy:

  1. risk factors for preterm labor
  2. vaginal bleeding
  3. premature rupture of membranes

2. Choose a safe form of exercise for your regular pregnancy exercise such as walking, swimming, low-impact aerobics and water aerobics.

3. After the first trimester, do not do pregnancy exercises or positions while lying flat on your back. This compresses blood vessels in your back and can reduce blood flow to the baby.

4. If you engaged in a regular exercise routine such as running, cycling or strength training, be sure to check with your provider if you can continue them while pregnant. In most cases you will be able to.

5. The following sports are not considered to be safe as pregnancy exercise – scuba-diving, basketball, soccer or other impact sports, gymnastics, water or downhill skiing or horse-backriding.

6. It is a good idea if you haven’t exercised in awhile to start slowly; perhaps only exercising for about 5-10 minutes at a time.

7. Try to do your pregnancy exercise at least 3 times per week. If you do your exercise only sporadically, it will put additional strain on your muscles and joints.

8. Decrease your pregnancy exercise level as you move into the later stages of pregnancy. After 24 weeks of pregnancy, your body will begin to become more unwieldy and you may need to reduce your activity level or change your pregnancy exercise if your balance is affected.

9. Before exercising, do a warm-up stretch for about 5-10 minutes. After your exercise, do a slow cooling down period for about 5-10 minutes.

10. Drink 2-3 8 oz glasses of water after pregnancy exercise to replace fluids that you may have lost to prevent dehydration.

11. Wear comfortable clothing and good supportive shoes.

12. If you have any of the following symptoms while exercising, stop and call your provider:

  • vaginal bleeding
  • dizziness or feeling faint
  • increased shortness of breath
  • chest pain
  • headache
  • muscle weakness
  • calf pain or swelling
  • uterine contractions
  • decreased movement of the baby
  • leaking vaginal fluid

Do you have any exercise routines that worked well for you? Start a discussion!