Your Baby Today


Get Physical

Get Physical

Exercising during your pregnancy is one of the best things you can do for yourself--and your baby. Regular exercise (walking or swimming for 30 minutes three or more times a week, for example) will help you control your weight, reduce the risk of some illnesses associated with pregnancy, and may also help you sleep better at night. Add some strength-training to keep your muscles toned and strong, and to help with your posture as your center of gravity shifts along with your growing belly.

The latest research shows that regular exercise is not only smart and safe for pregnant women, but  may also enhance their experience. "Many women say that exercise reduces the aches and pains associated with pregnancy, and boosts their energy levels and self-esteem," says prenatal fitness expert Larry A. Wolfe, Ph.D., director of the clinical exercise physiology laboratory at Queen's University, in Ontario, Canada.

Wolfe says that while there's no proof that exercise shortens labor or makes it less painful, or that it will prevent certain complications, many women who have participated in his research have told him that it gave them the stamina they needed to endure labor. Also, that being in shape made recovery from childbirth easier.

Even if you hadn't been exercising before your pregnancy, there's no reason you can't start a mild program now (with your physician's approval, of course). In fact, if there are no complications associated with your pregnancy, your physician will probably recommend it. "Our research suggests that regular exercise may reduce a women's risk of developing two of the most dangerous illnesses associated with pregnancy: gestational diabetes and preeclampsia," says Wolfe.

That's reason enough to ask your physician to recommend a prenatal fitness class. Remember, this isn't a time to train hard; your goal should be to maintain a fitness level you feel good about so you can reap the physical and emotional benefits during your pregnancy, withstand labor, and recover from childbirth more quickly.

Exercise Guidelines from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

Regular exercise gives you energy and keeps you healthy during pregnancy. It also helps you feel better during a time when your body is undergoing tremendous change. But it's not a time to overdo it. Here is a summary of the current exercise guidelines from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists:

  • Continue mild to moderate exercise routines at least three days a week.

  • After 20 weeks, avoid doing exercises on your back, since they can decrease blood flow to the uterus.

  • Never exercise to exhaustion.

  • Don't exercise in hot, humid weather or when you are sick with a fever.

  • Drink extra water on the days you exercise.

  • Avoid activities that may cause you to lose your balance, especially during your third trimester.

  • Stop exercising immediately and call your physician if you experience any of the following symptoms: pain; vaginal bleeding; dizziness or lightheadedness; increased shortness of breath; rapid heartbeat; difficulty walking; uterine contractions and chest pain; fluid leaking from the vagina.


About The Author

Nevada-based freelance writer Dana Sullivan is a frequent contributor to Your Baby Today and also writes for Fit Pregnancy and Parenting. She's mom to Liam, 4, and Julia, 2.

The content on these pages is provided as general information only and should not be substituted for the advice of your physician.

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