Pregnancy and Exercise
There are tons of benefits to exercise while pregnant or even gradually after childbirth. In fact, it is generally considered safe to begin an exercise program during pregnancy, even if you weren’t exercising prior. Disclaimer though: you should always consult with your physician if you have any questions or concerns regarding exercise during pregnancy.
There is evidence that suggests that exercise may be beneficial in the primary prevention of gestational diabetes.
So what level of exercise should you strive for when pregnant?
Well, 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise is recommended on most, if not all, days of the week. Strength training has been shown to be safe for both the fetus and the mother. This includes performing increased repetitions of lower weight loads. Normally, strength training machines are preferred over free-weights.
You should avoid lying on your back during exercise as much as possible after the 1st trimester. Listen to your body; if it is painful or doesn’t feel right, stop that exercise. You should never exercise to exhaustion. Stop any exercise if you have vaginal bleeding during the exercise.
Most importantly: Have fun!
What about after childbirth?
Exercise may be resumed gradually after childbirth as soon as it’s physically and medically safe, which could be within days of delivery. Use proper body mechanics and ergonomics: new moms are at the greatest risk of injury from the load of lifting and carrying a new baby and equipment.
Start with 20 minute brisk walks. The duration can always be increased 5 – 10 minutes each week if you’re tolerating it well. Exercising a minimum of 3 days/week is needed to gain fitness and weight loss benefits.
When it comes to weight training: a set of 10 – 12 reps without undue fatigue should ensure that the resistance level is not too great.
Intensity of exercise may be increased upon full recovery after birth, as long as no symptoms of overworking during exercise have occurred, such as increased vaginal bleeding. Listen to your body. If it is painful or doesn’t feel right, stop that exercise.
And that’s it! We hope this helps you (and your baby) live happy and healthy lives. For more information, check out the March of Dimes’ website.