Women's Healthcare Topics

Exercising and Pregnancy

Reviewed by James Brann, M.D.

Have More Energy and Less Backaches if You Exercise

It’s really popular these days for the new moms in Hollywood to get back into their ‘pre-pregnancy’ shape in as little time as possible. Hollywood stars can be fun to admire…but is it realistic for real world moms-to-be to think they will look like a model in a month or two after having their baby?

Medical doctors and personal trainers all say the same thing. It’s just not as important to get back into shape so you can fit into a ball gown or your favorite pair of jeans.

What is important is great health and fitness, and doctors actually advise pregnant women to exercise. The right type of exercise during pregnancy will make you healthier, improve your posture, feel less tired and have fewer backaches – and exercise can even make your delivery a whole lot easier on you and your baby.

You must check with a doctor before you start exercising during pregnancy, and which month to start, especially if you have early pregnancy cramping or spotting. If you do exercise while pregnant and you feel any of the following – chest, stomach or pelvic pain, dizziness, nausea or a bad headache, an irregular heartbeat or shortness of breath, bad swelling in your ankles, hands or face, or any bleeding or steady leaking from your vagina – stop immediately and seek medical attention.

Exercising from 0-3 Months of Pregnancy

You may not even look pregnant during your first three months, and if you were exercising before you got pregnant you may want to exercise the same way. While doctors recommend exercise, you should moderate your exercise to low-impact aerobic and strength training.

Remember the first three months of pregnancy are crucial for you and your developing baby. Moderate exercise can be ideal, but you should know how to take your heart rate – and keep your heart rate at 140 beats or under per minute.

One of the best forms of exercise you can do anytime during pregnancy is taking a walk. Invite a friend or family member to go along. Even if you have to break it up and take two or three walks a day for about ten minutes each time, after you’d had a meal and rested, you will benefit you and your baby’s health a lot.

Exercising from 3-6 Months of Pregnancy

By now you will begin showing and you will definitely benefit from a low-impact exercise routine designed to help strengthen your back as your stomach grows. This will enable you to have a much better time of it right now, and will also make the delivery easier as well.

According to The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, you can exercise moderately for up to thirty minutes per day, for between five to seven days of the week, as long as you have no serious health or obstetric conditions. A warm up and cool down period of gentle aerobic activity and stretching should be included in your daily exercise program.

Doctors and personal trainers recommend the best exercise during this trimester to be stationary cycling, swimming and even low-impact aerobics. You should make sure that you have a close friend, family member or certified instructor nearby for support and assistance if you need it.

There are even strength and toning stretches that are very safe and especially recommended for pregnant women. These don’t include any full sit-ups, extensive leg raises and toe touches, or deep knee bends during pregnancy.

Learn the best exercises by trimesters of pregnancy.

Exercising from 6-9 Months of Pregnancy

If you’ve exercised throughout your pregnancy, you’ll be reaping the benefits now when you need them the most. Your back will be stronger, you will have more energy and you’ll be looking forward to your delivery and the arrival of your baby!

During the last trimester, it’s especially important not to perform exercises that require you to hold your breath for long periods of time, or that requires a lot of bouncing, jumping, running or hopping.

Doctors particularly recommend that you stop any exercise or stretching that requires you to lie on your right side or back for longer than three minutes. You should not be exercising at any time during your pregnancy in really hot or humid weather.

Exercising After Your Baby Is Born

It’s really important to get a doctor’s opinion about when to start exercising again after you’ve had your baby. You may be able to return to low-impact exercise within two weeks of giving birth vaginally (within a month if you’ve had a cesarean). For your own health and safety, and with your beautiful new baby in mind, you shouldn’t do any heavy stuff like running or high-impact aerobics for a couple of months after your delivery.


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