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How to Exercise Safely During Your Pregnancy

Exercising while you’re pregnant is an important part of staying fit and healthy during this special time in your life, and it can even help you to have a smoother delivery when the time comes.  However, before starting any exercise routine while pregnant, you need to consult with your physician or health care provider to determine how much you can safely handle.  If you have vaginal bleeding, any early rupturing of your membranes, or are at a risk for pre-term labor, you shouldn’t exercise.  Even women that don’t have any of these risk factors are advised to stick with low impact exercises.  A leisurely swim, water aerobics, regular aerobics, or walking are several of the safe, low impact exercises you can choose from.

The types of exercise that are best for women in the early stages of pregnancy are different from those that are recommended for the later stages of pregnancy, since a pregnant woman will need to be more careful about exercising after her first trimester.  After passing your first trimester, you shouldn’t do any exercises on your back to reduce the risk of harming the fetus.  To strengthen your abdominal area and your core, you can do exercises such as pelvic tilts while standing up, belly breathing while sitting down, and holding and releasing your abs while seated.  Of course, you should always try to be safe no matter what stage of pregnancy you are in, but if you feel any pain or shortness of breath, stop right away and contact your physician.

When you’re first starting to exercise during your pregnancy, you’ll want to start off slowly.  If you weren’t active regularly before your pregnancy, five to ten minutes a day should be enough.  Try to exercise at this pace at least three times a week for best results, and slowly increase the time you exercise depending on how you feel.  If you were active before becoming pregnant, you may be able to handle longer workouts safely – just be sure to listen to what your body’s telling you.  You may not be able to match your pre-pregnancy workouts, since your body’s resources are already strained to provide for two people.  Stay safe, and don’t push your body beyond its limits.

Interestingly enough, one of the things you’ll need to pay special attention to is not overstretching during any of your exercise sessions.  A pregnant woman’s body produces the hormone relaxin, which helps to make labor easier by providing extra lubricant to the woman’s joints.  Therefore, pregnant women must be careful when exercising, since they’ll feel like they can stretch farther than is physically safe.  Be especially careful with exercises that involve a stretching component, like yoga or Pilates, and dial down your effort a notch if you feel yourself suddenly blessed with super-human flexibility.

In addition, make sure that you’re comfortable while exercising.  Comfortable shoes with good support that don’t hurt your feet and clothes that are not binding to you or the baby are essential to exercising during your pregnancy.  Think about it, how likely are you to stick with a pregnancy workout routine if it involves putting on pinching shoes and too-tight waistbands?  Instead, pick up some comfortable exercise wear, and remember that you may need to purchase new items as your size changes.

Most importantly, pregnant women should always listen to their bodies while exercising.  Any warning signs like leaking fluid out of the vagina, vaginal bleeding, the baby not moving as much, uterine contractions, pains in your chest, shortness of breath, calf swelling or calf pain, headache, dizziness, and feeling faint are signs of concern.  If you experience any of these symptoms, stop exercising immediately and contact your physician or health care provider as soon as possible!