Staying Fit While Pregnant
Most medical experts agree that staying fit through exercise
while you’re pregnant not only helps keep you in shape,
but can be a benefit to the baby as well. It can even help
ease your labor. But always check with your doctor before
starting any fitness regimen.
And if you haven't worked out in the past, it is not a great
idea to push your limits when you're pregnant. But you should
exercise. According to Bonnie Berk, RN and President and
Founder of Motherwell Master FitnessTrainer (www.motherwellfitness.com),
"Regardless of whether you’ve exercised or not,
pregnancy is a perfect time to start adopting healthy behaviors."
There are several benefits to exercising during pregnancy.
In fact, says Berk, who is also a childbirth education specialist
and a registered Yoga teacher, "Research shows that
exercise during pregnancy reduces nearly all pregnancy-related
symptoms including ankle swelling, fatigue and low back
discomfort. Exercise also helps reduce the incidence of
gestational diabetes. Other benefits include improved circulation,
increased sense of well-being and decreased excess weight
There are, however, certain
types of exercise that is recommended during pregnancy.
"Walking is a wonderful way to get started. Start with
smaller goals," says Berk, author of "Motherwell
Fitness Plan.""Take a walk for 10 minutes and
then walk home. Walking 20 minutes on most days of the week
will help the pregnant woman feel good, stay healthy and
havi a positive childbirth experience." She also recommends
stretching. "It is good to practice flexibility and
strength exercises at least twice a week," she explains.
"Motherwell Yoga exercises are designed to reduce minor
discomforts of pregnancy and work to stretch and strengthen
every major muscle group in ways that are appropriate for
And while the debate is divided on the practice of Pilates
during pregnancy, Berk, a certified Pilates instructor says,
"While Pilates is an excellent way to shape up before
and after pregnancy, during pregnancy many of the Pilates
exercises are contraindicated. After the first month of
pregnancy, women need to avoid exercising on their backs
because the increased weight of the uterus presses on the
inferior vena cava, decreasing blood flow to the baby. However,
many of the side-lying exercises can be done as well as
many of the other exercises with modifications. Another
position not appropriate for pregnant women is on their
When exercising, it is very
important to "listen to your body," notes Berk.
"During pregnancy, a woman is changing every day. Every
day the baby gets bigger and so does she. If a woman feels
'out of breath' while exercising at a pace that was previously
comfortable, then she needs to readjust to her body's needs.
Flexibility during pregnancy is important both physically
and mentally. Some women feel a sense of loss when they
can't continue doing fitness activities that they did prior
to pregnancy. But it is important to remember that pregnancy
is only a nine month experience. Face every day with a curiosity
of what kinds of adjustments you will need to make as a
result of your pregnancy. Exercise with the goals of having
a healthy pregnancy and positive pregnancy outcome."
And during what trimester should
you stop exercising? Berk advises, "Unless a
woman feels uncomfortable or needs to limit activities on
the advice of her health care provider, there is no reason
to stop exercising. However, most women naturally decrease
exercise intensity in the last few months of pregnancy in
response to the increased needs of the baby and the growing
uterus. Getting a daily dose of exercise, even taking a
leisurely walk, can make pregnant women feel better both
physically and mentally. For women with back discomfort,
exercising in a pool is the activity of choice."
And how about after you give
birth…when should you resume your workout routine?
According to W. Jackson Davis, author of "The Miracle
Workout: The Revolutionary 3-Step Program for YOUR Perfect
Body"), "The timing of resumption of any exercise
program following childbirth will depend on a number of
variables: whether you exercised before pregnancy, your
physical condition going into pregnancy, the nature of your
pregnancy, including particularly any complications, and
the nature of the birth experience. The best advice? Consult
your physician, and resume exercise of any kind based on
her advice. As a general rule, however, healthy women with
normal, uncomplicated pregnancies and natural childbirth
(as opposed to Cesarean) who exercised regularly before
and during pregnancy should be able to resume an exercise
program four to six weeks following childbirth, if their
Remember, check with your doctor
first and keep fit.