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Tips for safely exercising while pregnant

May 23, 2016

So you have a bun in the oven, but you don’t want to abandon your weekly workout class. You might have to go easy on breaking your record for consecutive suicides, but exercise is considered safe and is even encouraged while your little one is in utero. Here are some tips for making it as safe and effective as possible.

The first step is to check with your doctor. Always check before making any lifestyle changes during your pregnancy. Your doctor is your advocate. They know what is going on with your body – the risks, the baby’s ongoing healthy, your medical history, your lifestyle, your needs, and more importantly, things that you absolutely do not need. If you are thinking of beginning an exercise regime during your pregnancy, make sure to bring this up to your doctor beforehand. Nothing is too inconsequential to mention, question, or discuss during this precarious time.

Once you have the go-ahead, remember not to overdo it. Steer clear of any dangerous or risky sports, and do not over-exert yourself, especially the closer you get to the due date. The body begins to prepare for birth early on in pregnancy and this process includes the loosening of pelvic joints and ligaments – even if you are normally very agile, pregnancy can bring unexpected clumsiness. If you have been instructed to stay on bed rest or to take it easy, listen to yourself and listen to your doctor – this is not the time to take risks. Never exercise without warming up. By plunging into your usual routine without stretching, there is a risk for increased post-workout aches and pains. The last thing that any pregnancy needs is more aches and pains.

It is important to drink plenty of water, while also taking into consideration the extra calories that you will be burning. Water is important before, during, and after any kind of exercise whether you are pregnant or not, but dehydration can cause premature contractions, while sometimes pairing with dangerously high body temperatures. Always make sure that you are consuming enough calories for yourself, as well as the baby. If your BMI (body mass index) is in the healthy range, the recommendation is to consume at least 300 more calories than your normal intake, and that can sometimes as much as double when you are exercising regularly throughout pregnancy. Your weight is something that your doctor will be keeping a close eye on throughout pregnancy, but no one knows your body better than you. If you notice an increase or decrease in weight, let your doctor know.

Although it may seem daunting to risk anything during your pregnancy (especially if you weren’t exactly a jock before the baby came along), the important thing to remember is that most mothers exercise during pregnancy without any problems. As long as you are communicating with your doctor and avoiding any invitations to BASE jump, it is fairly low risk and encouraged. Exercise during pregnancy has been proven to decrease the risk of gestational diabetes by up to 27%, ease the process of labor, prevent excessive weight gain, and increase mood and flexibility throughout the pregnancy. Studies have even suggested that you will end up with a more slender infant – many mothers who have exercised regularly throughout one pregnancy versus not exercising during another have reported less health problems, lower risks of juvenile diabetes as well as childhood obesity, and sometimes an increased skill in athletic ventures in their children. This might have something to do with genes of course, but hey, it can’t hurt!

Unfortunately, many women suffer from uncomfortable pregnancies paired with extreme nausea and hormone swings. Exercise can alleviate these symptoms and make the nine months a bit more bearable for many women. Additionally, the newfound habit might stick even after pregnancy. If you have never regularly exercised, many pregnant newbies have reported that it can serve as something to occupy their time and mind – cutting out booze, coffee, and favorite foods can be difficult as well as mood-dampening, but the important thing to remember is that it is only temporary. Follow these tips and the nine months will fly by in no time.