It may be easier to exercise earlier in your pregnancy than during the last 3 months (third trimester) of pregnancy. Choosing safe exercises for you and your baby is also important. As your weight and balance change, certain exercises may become uncomfortable or be potentially harmful. After 20 weeks of pregnancy you should not do exercises that require lying flat on your back. This position may make blood circulation more difficult.
If you were very active before you got pregnant, it's fine to stick with your usual routine as long as your health care provider tell you it is OK to do so. If you are new to exercise, start slowly and built up gradually.
For a total-body workout that is low stress on joints and muscles, try walking, swimming, or a stationary bike. Always warm-up before exercising and cool down afterwards. With the extra weight from pregnancy, your body has to work harder than it did before. Exercise increases the flow of oxygen and blood to the muscles and diverts it away from other parts of the body. This makes it important to not overdo the workout or to do very strenuous exercise while pregnant. The workout should not cause pain, shortness of breath, or excessive tiredness. You should still be able to carry on a conversation while exercising. The goal is to gain the benefits of exercise while protecting you and your baby from harm.
The following tips are based on the recommendations of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Academy of Family Physicians:
- After 20 weeks, avoid doing exercises while lying on your back.
- Wear comfortable clothing that will help you to stay cool. Look for a supportive sports bra to protect your breasts. Later in your pregnancy, you may want to get a belly support belt.
- Consume an extra 300 calories a day that you need while pregnant.
- Avoid getting overheated when exercising especially in hot, humid weather.
- Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
Recommended exercises include:
- Stationary bike
- Low-impact aerobics
Sports to avoid because they are high risk for fall or trauma include:
- Horseback riding
- Skiing (water/snow)
- Hang gliding
- Vigorous racquet sports
- Weight lifting
- Scuba diving
Note: If you are a high-risk pregnancy, you may not be able to exercise, or do so with restrictions. Be sure to talk with your health care provider about what is best for your body.
If you fall when exercising, especially if you land on your belly, seek medical attention immediately. Trauma to your uterus can cause the placenta to tear away from the wall of your uterus. This condition, called an abruption, can be life-threatening to both you and your fetus.