Exercise In Pregnancy

October 31, 2011

It is not always necessary for pregnant women to give up their exercise routines. In fact, studies have demonstrated that mild to moderate amounts of exercise could result in certain benefits such as shorter labors, less preterm deliveries, less cesarean deliveries, and less fetal distress during labor. Proper exercise programs could also increase your daily energy levels, and improve your quality of sleep.

It is not always necessary for pregnant women to give up their exercise routines. In fact, studies have demonstrated that mild to moderate amounts of exercise could result in certain benefits such as shorter labors, less preterm deliveries, less cesarean deliveries, and less fetal distress during labor. Proper exercise programs could also increase your daily energy levels, and improve your quality of sleep.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that women who exercised before pregnancy can continue to exercise with some restrictions. Specifically, ACOG recommends:

  • Regular exercise (at least three times per week) is better than intermittent programs.
  • Avoid exercises where you lay flat on your back after the 12th week of pregnancy.
  • Do not exercise to the point of exhaustion, instead, stop when fatigued.
  • Make sure you do not overheat. Drink plenty of fluids and maintain a proper diet.
  • Avoid activities that require precise balance.
  • Avoid activities that have the potential for abdominal trauma.

Don’t worry, the above list does not exclude all activities. Recommended regimens include walking, swimming, bicycling (stationary bikes are best in late pregnancy), and low impact aerobics. Walking is ideal, especially for women who did not exercise much before they were pregnant.

Sounds good so far, but you must keep in mind that there is the potential for problems. High-impact exercise, with excessive bouncing or jarring should be avoided. In addition, women who exercise too vigorously on a regular basis could have babies with low birth weights. It is also prudent for women who were inactive before pregnancy to limit new exercise programs during pregnancy to mild or moderate programs, such as walking or swimming.

Certain groups of women should not be exercising at all when pregnant. This includes high-risk pregnancies such as women with high blood pressure related to their pregnancy, women with premature labor, and women with twins. As a rule, you should always check with your physician before beginning any exercise program during pregnancy.

References:

Bibliography

1. The Athletic Woman, Part II: Concerns During Pregnancy, The Female Patient, Vol. 23, July 1998, pp. 34-40.

2. Exercise During Pregnancy, ACOG Pamphlet # AP119, 1998.

3. Williams Obstetrics, 20th Edition, F. Gary Cunningham,M.D. et.al., Appleton & Lange, Stamford, Connecticut, 1997.

4. Exercise During Pregnancy and the Postpartum Period, ACOG Technical Bulletin #189, February 1994.