When you’re pregnant, it’s more important than ever to keep your body fit and strong. As your baby grows and your body changes shape, you may experience discomfort such as backaches, bloating, swelling, and constipation. Though these changes may make you feel uncomfortable, they are all signs that you should be exercising more, not less.
But “more” may not mean the same thing as it did before you were pregnant. You should modify your exercise regimen depending on which trimester you are in to respect your body’s changing needs. There are also extra health precautions you must be aware of and should discuss with your obstetrician.
How Will Exercise Help Me and My Growing Baby?
Pregnancy creates new stresses on your joints, ligaments, and muscles. Your ligaments may become swollen due to an influx of hormones, which can make them more susceptible to injury.
Exercising gently and mindfully helps you keep your muscles and joints strong so that you can accommodate the extra pounds and the resulting shift to the center of gravity in your body.
Because you are now living for two, you need to take in more oxygen as well as consume an additional 300 healthy calories per day. Exercise infuses your and your baby’s cells with oxygen. It can give you an energy boost, fight depression, and help you sleep better.
Other benefits of an appropriate exercise regimen are:
Increases muscle tone and strength
Regulates the bowels
Reduces the risk of gestational diabetes
Increases levels of feel-good hormones, such as dopamine and serotonin
May reduce the length of labor
May speed your recovery from childbirth
Increases your baby’s health
By taking care of your body, eating well, and exercising regularly with your doctor’s OK, you’re not just preventing excessive weight gain, you’re also building strength and endurance for you and your baby for the later stages of pregnancy and delivery.
What’s the Right Kind of Exercise During Pregnancy?
The kinds of exercises that are best for you and your baby during your pregnancy may vary not only by trimester but also by your baseline activity and fitness level. Always be sure to alert your obstetrician about your exercise routines, any changes or additions you might want to make, and any side effects you may experience.
If you’re new to exercise, take it slow and start with 5 minutes of a gentle workout a day. Add in another 5 minutes each week until you’ve reached 30 minutes a day. You should continue that throughout the rest of your pregnancy… and then the rest of your life!
If you’re already exercising regularly, you can probably continue your normal routine… but check with your doctor first! Also, read below for activities to avoid and for warning signs that your routine should be altered.
If you’re a professional athlete or a high-level competitor, work closely with your obstetrician to monitor your health and activity level.
Some pregnancy-friendly exercises include:
Elliptical or stair machines at the gym
Yoga —but avoid inversions and hot yoga
Kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor
Light weight training
Some exercises may need to be altered or stopped, particularly in the 3rd trimester:
High-intensity sports. Your shifting center of gravity may make it difficult to keep your balance when turning or jumping in tennis, basketball, or other sports.
Running. As you move into your 3rd trimester, you may get winded more easily. Listen to your body and slow down when you feel you need more oxygen.
Do I Need to Take Extra Precautions?
Pregnancy creates many new stresses on your body. You will heat up faster than normal, tire more easily, and may move with more difficulty. The following habits can help you adjust to your changing needs:
Drink more water before, during, and after workouts (at least 10 eight oz. glasses a day)
Avoid saunas and hot tubs
Avoid changes in altitude
Avoid contact sports and other risky activities
Don’t berate yourself if you have to modify or cut down on your normal exercise routine! As long as you are getting 30 minutes a day of gentle exercise, your body — and your baby — will thank you.
Are There Any Types of Exercises I Should Avoid?
Avoid any exercises that require:
Holding your breath
Deep knee bends
Exercising in hot or humid conditions
Anything where you might be accidentally hit in the abdomen
Quick changes in direction
When Do I Need to Stop Exercising?
If you have any medical problems, such as heart disease, lung disease, asthma, or diabetes, your doctor and obstetrician will let you know which exercises are safe for you.
If you’ve developed any conditions during your pregnancy, exercise may be more harmful than beneficial. Avoid exercise if you have:
Previous premature births
Previous early labor
Multiple pregnancies that may induce premature labor
Premature rupture of membranes
If you experience any of the following while exercising, stop immediately and seek medical care:
Lack of fetal movement
Swelling or pain in your calves
Vaginal leakage or spotting
Keep Everyone Healthy After Birth, Too
After a healthy nine months of diet and exercise, and a healthy delivery, you can further ensure your and your baby’s health by banking her stem-cell-rich umbilical cord for future medical use. Cord lining stem cells can also help other blood-related family members.
When considering cord lining banking, make an informed choice. Select a cord banking service that is licensed to offer complete coverage for all stem cell therapies derived from your stored cord.
Umbilical cord lining tissue banked by non-licensed cord blood banks may not provide the stem cell yield or quality that CellResearch Corporation’s proprietary and patented protocols can provide — this may affect its suitability for future therapeutic use. In addition, these blood banks and medical institutions that offer CellResearch Corporation's patented protocols — which include ALL cord lining stem celltherapies — are at risk of patent infringement.
GlobalCord is operated by CellResearch Corporation and its partners. Cords banked through GlobalCord are covered by CellResearch Corporation’s patent licensure which extends to 41 territories around the world, including the U.S.A.