Exercise During Pregnancy

It is possible to maintain a healthy exercise program throughout a pregnancy. However, it is important to discuss exercising with your caregiver, so that the two of you may develop an appropriate exercise program. It is important to remember that exercise during pregnancy should be use to maintain one's health and not to lose weight. Strenuous activities should be avoided as the may cause the baby to have difficulty obtaining proper amounts of oxygen. A proper pregnancy exercise plan has many benefits including preparing you for the physical challenges of childbirth by strengthening the muscles that help with childbirth, reducing common backaches, alleviating constipation, improving posture, elevating mood, and promoting better sleep. If possible, begin exercising regularly before you become pregnant and continue through the duration of the pregnancy. It is difficult for a woman to begin an exercise program later in a pregnancy due to enlargement of the uterus and breasts and a shift in the center of gravity. Pregnancy exercise programs should be aimed at improving the muscles of the heart, back, pelvis, and abdomen.

GENERAL GUIDELINES

Every woman and pregnancy is different; thus, the level of exercise you can do depends on your health, the conditions of the pregnancy, and activity level before pregnancy. For women who were sedentary before pregnancy, walking is a good way to begin. Use caution while participation in sports during pregnancy, because your center of gravity changes and may affect your balance or that require rapid movements. Always make sure to drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration, which may decrease blood flow to your baby. Avoid any activity that has the potential for trauma to the abdomen. If possible try to avoid high-altitude activities, which can deprive you and your baby of oxygen; this may cause premature labor. Talk with your caregiver.

Performing a proper warm up and cool down are very important. It is important to start slowly and build up to more demanding exercises. Toward the end of an exercise session, gradually slow your activity. Perhaps try and work back through the exercises in reverse order. Check your pulse during peak activity, and discuss with your caregiver an appropriate range of heart rate for activity. Slow down your activity if your heart starts beating faster than the target range recommended by your health care provider. Do not exceed a heart rate of 140 beats per minute. Exercise that is too strenuous may speed up the baby's heartbeat to a dangerous level. In general, if you are able to carry on a conversation comfortably while exercising, your heart rate is probably within the recommended limits. Check to make sure.

You should stop exercising and call your health care provider if you have any unusual symptoms, such as pain, uterine contractions, chest pain, bleeding or fluid leakage from the vagina, dizziness, or shortness of breath. Talk to your health caregiver if you have any questions.