How Can I Make Sure Im Exercising Safely During My Pregnancy?

Unless your practitioner gives you specific restrictions or instructions, you should keep active during pregnancy. This may be as simple as walking every day to get your heart rate moving, or it may be a complete fitness program designed to be safe during pregnancy. But you also need to do so safely.

Exercise and fitness are activities you can control. They are important in pregnancy, just as they are during every other time of life. We all feel better when we're active, and this alone can make your pregnancy more enjoyable. Exercise will likely improve your mood and help you enjoy the weeks as they fly by. It also may help you be better prepared for the rigors of labor and improve your ability to reach inside of yourself when that little bit extra is called for. Here are some guidelines for safe exercise:

  • Keep your heart rate moderate. Try to keep your peak pulse rate below 140. Above this level your body may begin to divert blood away from the uterus and your baby. This is probably not significant until the third trimester, but it's still a good rule to follow. You can get a heart rate monitor at any sporting goods store or just use this rule of thumb: you should be able to carry on a conversation while you exercise.
  • Stay hydrated. Always drink lots of fluids when you work out. Dehydration can cause dizziness, a tendency to faint, a drop in blood pressure, increased heart rate, and pre-term contractions.
  • Don't strain your back. Avoid any lifting using your lower back. Whether it's a twenty-pound weight or a piece of paper you're picking up, you should always lift with your knees instead of your back. That's important because your lower back is already stressed due to your growing midsection. Also, placental hormones cause relaxation of the ligaments, which is good for labor but also makes it easier to pull or strain body parts.
  • Avoid jarring exercises. This is most relevant in the later months, but step classes or jogging may have too much impact. Spin classes, fast walking, and supervised weight training are all safe in pregnancy. Possibly the best exercise for a pregnant woman is a swimming or pool training class, since the strain on your ligaments and back is virtually eliminated.

Common sense is one of the best gauges as to what you can do while pregnant. Certainly, walking, swimming, jogging (in the first few months), light weightlifting, and yoga are all great for you and your baby.

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