The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week for non-complicated pregnancies.
Always begin by checking in with your medical professional to find out if exercising is right for you and your pregnancy.
Moderate intensity exercise includes activities such as walking, jogging, cycling, strength training and swimming. These activities can be broken down into thirty minute blocks or longer, five days a week or a few ten minute blocks throughout the day. If you are new to exercise, start with five to ten minutes a day and build up to thirty minutes as you are comfortable.
Exercise prescription while pregnant should follow the same guidelines for non-pregnant individuals, while modifying to reduce risks for mother and baby. During later stages of pregnancy, your body releases a hormone called relaxin that loosens your joints and ligaments and raises risk of injury on the body. Contact sports, high impact exercise, extreme hot or cold environments and high altitude training are all contraindicated while pregnant.
Talk to your medical professional and reference the ACOG committee opinion on exercise before, during and after pregnancy. Also reference the ACOG FAQs for additional information regarding exercise during pregnancy.
Lower gestational weight gain (GWG)
Weight gain is a necessity while pregnant, but excessive weight gain can lead to a host of complications. Gestational diabetes, back pain, pelvic pain, poor posture, hypertensions disorders and large babies are all associated with excessive weight gain. An updated Cochrane review of 65 controlled studies found that diet and exercise interventions during pregnancy can significantly reduce the risk of excessive gestational weight gain. Healthy food plays an important role and this, combined with exercise during pregnancy can improve sleep patterns, reduce back pain, maintain or improve agility, coordination and balance making it easier to get around and enjoy your pregnancy!
Talk to your medical professional and reference the ACOG committee opinion on weight gain during pregnancy to understand the recommended GWG for your pregnancy.
Higher incidence of natural birth
A recent meta-review by the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology looked at studies on 2,059 non-complicated, normal-weight pregnancies and found exercise did not increase the risk of pre-term birth, but did in fact lower incident of cesarean delivery and hypertension disorders when compared to the control groups. According to the Mayo Clinic, a C-section, like any surgery, carries risks, so anything you can do to increase your chances of natural birth are important.
When it comes to exercise postpartum, cesarean deliveries usually have a minimum of 6 weeks recovery before being cleared. Many women continue to have pain, numbness and weakness at the surgical site making it even harder to get active. Let’s not forget you also have a newborn to take care of. Continuing to stay active during your pregnancy gives you the best shot at continuing activity postpartum!
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The information contained in this article is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for the advice of your physician or licensed health care provider. You should consult your physician or licensed health care provider before engaging in any exercise activity described in this article to determine if it is right for your needs.