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Guidelines for Exercising During Pregnancy

  • May 15, 2018
  • By Brittany
Guidelines for Exercising During Pregnancy

Exercising during pregnancy can be incredibly beneficial for mom and baby (personally I have been active through both pregnancies!).  And while the traditional thought of allowing a pregnant woman to rest on her hiney for 9 months is sooo outdated, we still need to be mindful of how a pregnant woman works out.  The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) have set forth guidelines for exercising during pregnancy.  ACOG states unequivocally that in a normal, healthy pregnancy, exercise is safe and advisable provided you clear it with your health provider first.

According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pregnant women should aim to get at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise every week.  Moderate intensity means you are moving enough to raise your heart rate and start sweating.  You can talk normally but you cannot sing.   

These are the guidelines for exercising during pregnancy by ACOG:

  • Avoid dehydration.  Pregnant women should drink plenty of water before, during and after the workout.  Signs of dehydration include dizziness, a racing or pounding heart, urinating only small amounts or having urine that is very dark yellow.
  • Wear a sports bra that gives a lot of support to protect the breasts.  Later in pregnancy, a belly support band may be useful for aerobic activity.
  • Avoid becoming overheated.  Drinking plenty of water, wearing loose-fitting clothing and exercising in a temperature-controlled room will help protect against overheating.
  • Avoid lying on the back for extended periods of time in the second and third trimeter.  In the second trimester the uterus is large enough to put pressure on the vena cava, a major vein that returns blood to the heart.  This can cause distress for both the mother and baby.  Lying on the back should be limited to short periods of time or not at all.
  • Avoid standing still for long periods.  Standing still for long periods can cause blood to pool in the lower part of the body making it difficult to return the blood to the heart causing distress for mother and baby.

A pregnant woman should stop exercising if any of these conditions are present:

  • Bleeding from the vagina
  • Feeling dizzy or faint
  • Shortness of breath before starting exercise
  • Chest pain
  • Headache
  • Muscle weakness
  • Calf pain or swelling
  • Regular, painful contractions of the uterus
  • Fluid leaking from the vagina

In some cases exercise during pregnancy is not advisable.  According to ACOG, exercise is not safe for women with these conditions:

  • Certain types of heart and lung diseases
  • Cervical insufficiency or cerclage
  • Being pregnant with twins or triplets (or more) with risk factors for preterm labor
  • Placenta previa after 26 weeks of pregnancy
  • Preterm labor or ruptured membranes (your water has broken) during this pregnancy
  • Preeclampsia or pregnancy-induced high blood pressure
  • Severe anemia

So, if you’re like me and expecting a little bundle of joy soon, put down the ice cream, get off the couch and get moving!  Follow these guidelines for exercising during pregnancy and you can have a safe and active 9 months!

By Brittany, May 15, 2018
  • 2
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