Mar 17, 2016

Recommendations for Exercising While Pregnant

If you frequently receive questions from the expectant mothers in your childbirth classes about exercising while pregnant, you’re not alone. Many women turn to their childbirth instructors for advice about a wide variety of topics, including exercise.

Here are some recommendations for exercising while pregnant that cover common areas of concern expectant women face.

Benefits of exercise in all pregnancy stages

For mothers who are healthy and experiencing healthy pregnancies, maintaining a regular exercise routine throughout all stages of pregnancy is important for feeling good.

Not only can exercise aid in alleviating some common discomforts that occur during pregnancy, but it can also help to better prepare a woman’s body for labor and birth. Below are some of the benefits women can expect from exercising while pregnant.

  • Ease in or prevention of back pain and other general discomforts
  • Boost in mood
  • Reduced fatigue
  • Improved posture
  • Better quality of sleep
  • Prevention of excess weight gain
  • Increased muscle tone and strength
  • May reduce the risk of gestational diabetes (and, for those that have it, may help treat it)
  • May alleviate symptoms of postpartum depression

What types of exercises are appropriate during pregnancy?

Women who were physically active before becoming pregnant will most likely be cleared by their healthcare professional to continue a similar, though possibly scaled back, exercise program, as long they take the necessary precautions and don’t overdo it. Even those who weren’t exercising regularly beforehand will usually be safe starting a non-strenuous exercise program during pregnancy such as walking.

The following exercises are considered safe to do while pregnant, though each individual should speak with her healthcare provider prior to beginning any exercise regimen.

  • Swimming
  • Brisk walking
  • Low-impact aerobics (taught by a certified aerobics instructor)
  • Indoor stationary cycling
  • Elliptical machines
  • Prenatal yoga

Five examples of safe exercises and stretches

Five simple exercises and stretches that pregnant women can safely do every day throughout their pregnancies (and in the comfort of their own homes) include:

  1. Plies
  2. Side-lying leg lifts
  3. Planks
  4. Curl and lifts
  5. One-arm rows

Refer to this Fit Pregnancy article for details about these exercises and to see how they should be performed. You can also use this as a resource to pass along to your students.

Use this information to help you guide your students and respond to questions they may have regarding exercise recommendations. And, of course, always encourage them to obtain clearance from their medical team before they try any exercise.

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