Once you find out that pregnancy is a reality (rather than a dream on the horizon) it may seem as if everything you ever learned about physical health comes to a grinding halt. Suddenly your exercise routine may seem suspect: street cycling versus mountain biking, horseback riding versus jumping, walking versus running, etc. So, what is and isn’t acceptable when it comes to pregnancy and exercise?
The first rule of thumb: always verify your exercise routine with your Midwife and/or OB/GYN. S/he will give you the okay or no-kay on your activities.
Otherwise, the general rule when it comes to exercising while pregnant is, please do! Exercise is healthy for your mind and body. It will keep you flexible, strong, and in shape for your upcoming labor – an experience for which stamina is beneficial. Exercise improves circulation, reduces stress, and helps keep ankle swelling to a minimum. However, there are a few things to consider before joining a woman’s competitive boxing club.
1. Your health. There are certain circumstances that may place stringent boundaries on your pregnancy exercise routine. These include:
· Diabetes that has been uncontrolled, or is difficult to control.
· Heart disease
· High blood pressure
· Placenta previa – this is a condition where the placenta is lying low in your uterine cavity. It can cause excessive bleeding before or during your labor, which is not healthy for you or the baby.
If any of these conditions pertains to you, your doctor will be able to tell you which physical activities are okay, and which should be avoided, until after your six-week postpartum check up.
2. Contact Sports. If you participate in group sports, especially contact sports, or activities that put you at a higher risk for using your body to be hit, slide, block others, etc., it’s best to go on sabbatical throughout your pregnancy.
3. Running. If you are a runner, running is usually safe during pregnancy. It’s not the best idea to startrunning after you are pregnant. Make sure to listen to your body and stay on flat ground after your first trimester as your center of gravity shifts.
4. Horses and Bikes. It’s hard to tell a horse lover not to ride her horse. Let’s face it, pregnant women have been riding horses for centuries. Just be aware, in the case that your horse spooks or you take a tumble, your baby and you are at risk. Jumping or hard trail riding should be avoided. The same is true for bicycle riding. Smooth, low-risk street riding is a wonderful way to get a low-impact workout. However, mountain and off-road biking should be placed on the back burner since falls and hard knocks are more common. Remember, that first trimester (if you’re lucky enough to not feel queasy) your body may feel relatively normal, but your center of gravity will begin to shift quickly thereafter, and balance will be compromised as your pregnancy progresses.
5. Hot Yoga. If you’re an avid Bikram yogi, it’s time to switch the routine. Your body’s core temperature is critical for your baby’s health and development. When you’re hot, your baby is hot. For this reason, switch classes to ensure your core temperature doesn’t go above an unhealthy 102 degrees. Your best option: take a prenatal yoga class. Not only are the exercises designed to support your healthy pregnancy, you’ll have a chance to meet other soon-to-be mamas.
6. Low-Impact. The words “LOW IMPACT” should be your exercise guide: walking, swimming, water aerobics, pre-natal yoga, Tai Chi, etc. are all recommended.
When in doubt about a physical activity, always get approval from your Midwife and/or OB/GYN.