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Dos and Don'ts of Working Out When Pregnant

Expecting? Dos and Don'ts of Working Out

Pregnancy gives you the green light to eat whatever you want because you're eating for two, right? Wrong. A pregnant woman still wants to eat healthy in order to nourish her growing baby and prevent excessive weight gain. Gaining up to 40 pounds is normal, but if a woman ends up gaining much more, she could have a more difficult time delivering her baby, develop gestational diabetes, and have a harder time taking the weight off once baby arrives.

Aside from watching her calorie intake, a mama-to-be should make exercise a part of her regular routine. Here are some things to consider when working out with a bun in the oven.

Do Don't
  • Get the OK from your OB before you start exercising. Even though it's healthy to get moving, you want to take precautions if you have health issues such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
  • Continue running, biking, or dancing, as long as you were doing these pre-pregnancy. You'll most likely need to tone down your intensity to accommodate your lower levels of energy.
  • Stop exercising immediately if you experience pain, dizziness, fatigue, or a headache. If you start spotting, call your OB or midwife.
  • Avoid contact sports such as soccer, activities that involve moving fast, or those that put you at risk for falling, like horseback riding.
  • Also steer clear of activities that require balance like biking or skiing, as your center of gravity isn't what it used to be.
  • Avoid trying out new types of movement. Now is not the time to take up surfing if you've never been on a board.

For more tips, keep reading.

Do Don't
  • It's recommended for pregos to work out moderately for 30 minutes a day most days of the week. Low-impact exercises like walking, swimming, or yoga are excellent choices.
  • Warm up and cool down to avoid injury. Your heart rate is higher when you're preggers so give your body time to ease into your workout, and to slow down to normal once you're finished.
  • Pregnancy and heat do not go well together, so work out in a cool environment to prevent overheating.
  • Do kegels, also known as pelvic floor exercises. Strengthening these muscles will make it easier to release them while in labor, and will also tighten them up after birth to prevent incontinence. Another plus is that a strong pelvic floor improves sex.
  • Strength training is highly recommended during pregnancy to keep your muscles strong.
  • Take breaks whenever you need to, either to sip some water, stretch your muscles, or to empty your bladder.
  • Exercise depending on how you feel, not on what you have scheduled. Today you may not feel like going to your swim class, but tomorrow you may have energy to walk for an hour straight.
  • It's safe to work your abs during pregnancy, but once you hit 20 weeks, avoid laying on your back for extended periods of time. It can reduce blood flow to your brain and uterus.
  • Don't push yourself. Pregnancy is not the time to break personal fitness records, and it may not even be possible to maintain your pre-pregnancy standards.
  • Don't push your pace. You should be able to carry on a normal conversation while exercising, without gasping for air.
  • Don't overdo it when stretching. Your body produces a hormone called relaxin that softens your joints and gives your muscles more elasticity. This makes it easier for you to stretch deeper than you ever could, but be careful not to tear a muscle.
  • Avoid standing still for prolonged periods. It can decrease blood flow to your uterus and cause blood to pool in your legs, which will make you dizzy.
  • Don't invert your body (go upside down as in headstands or shoulderstands) if you have high blood pressure or issues with your eyes.
  • Don't restrict your calorie intake. It's recommended to consume an extra 300 to 500 calories a day, especially when exercising.
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