Prenatal Exercise Do’s And Don’ts

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Pregnancy is a special time. Between preparing for the baby to come and taking care of your health, it can be quite a bit of work. It is important that as your body changes, you adjust your lifestyle to continue to practice healthy habits, including exercise.

Anastasia Arab, D.O., an OB/GYN with Henry Ford Health System, says it is important for women to maintain healthy life habits while pregnant. Prenatal exercise provides benefits for both you and your baby.

“Not only can working out help you maintain physical fitness,” say Dr. Arab. “But it can also help with weight and stress management, reduce the risk of gestational diabetes and other conditions, and better prepare you for delivery.”

Fortunately, there are a bunch of exercises out there to help you keep in shape before, during and after your pregnancy. Many of the exercises may be workouts that you already do, making it easy to adjust to your workout routine. Some exercises to consider include:

Here are some tips for best practice when it comes to prenatal exercise.

DO

  1. Talk to your doctor or midwife first. It is important you are carefully evaluated before pursing prenatal exercise. If it is found that there are complications with the pregnancy or your health, your exercise plan may need to be adjusted to avoid premature labor or several health problems.
  2. Use core exercises to prevent lower back pain. Lower back pain is one of the most common complaints among pregnant women. “This is related to the way your posture changes to accommodate the growing tummy, change in weight and shift in center of balance,” says Dr. Arab. Workouts that strengthen abdominal and back muscles can help relieve some of this pain.
  3. Watch out for warning signs. Exercising while pregnant will feel a little different due to the obvious changes of your body. However, there are many signs to be on the look for that would signal that you should stop working out during your pregnancy. These include:
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Regular, painful contractions
  • Shortness of breath before workouts
  • Headaches or dizziness
  • Chest pain
  • Swelling or muscle weakness affecting your balance

DON’T

  1. Partake in contact sports. While it is a great idea to continue to challenge yourself and switch up your workouts during pregnancy, playing contact sports can be harmful to you and your baby. Avoid sports where you risk falling or getting pushed around. It is also advised to avoid high-risk activities such as skydiving or scuba diving.
  2. Overwork yourself. While you may be used to doing longer, more intense workouts, the changes in your body may limit how long you should work out. Limit yourself to about 20-30 minutes of moderate-impact workouts per day. If you exercise for longer than 45 minutes, consider incorporating snack and water breaks. You may need to get creative in thinking of ways to stay cool during your workout.
  3. Forget the water. Like any workout, make sure that you are staying hydrated. To prevent any unnecessary stress induced by the workout, make sure you are drinking lots and lots of water. Make yourself more comfortable by wearing loose-fitted clothing. Pay attention to the weather and avoid high temperatures and humidity. Be aware that your body is more susceptible to dehydration and overheating.

“Pregnancy is a great time to maintain or even embark on a new level of health,” says Dr. Arab. Talk to your doctor or midwife about what the best approach to prenatal exercise is for you.


To find a doctor at Henry Ford, visit henryford.com or call 1-800-HENRYFORD (436-7936).

Dr. Anastasia Arab specializes in obstetrics and gynecology and sees patients at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital.

Categories: MoveWell