Exercise During Pregnancy

When you exercise during pregnancy, you keep your body strong and your baby healthy. Exercising has lots of benefits, such as keeping your heart healthy and your energy up.

It can boost your mood and help you sleep better. It can help relieve back pain, constipation, and swelling.

It can help prevent or manage gestational diabetes.

And, it may even help you have an easier time with labor and delivery.

Most women can exercise safely during pregnancy. But it's important to talk with your health care provider first.

Exercise isn't safe for everyone during pregnancy, especially if you have certain problems, such as vaginal bleeding, cervical problems, leaking of amniotic fluid, or other complications.

Your body changes during pregnancy. Some of those changes make some exercises riskier than others. Hormones loosen the ligaments that support your joints.

Extra weight in the front of your body can make it harder to balance.

If your health care provider gives you the green light, aim to exercise for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week.

If you're not used to exercising, start slowly and build up to 30 minutes a day. Or you can break your 30 minutes into 10-minute chunks.

Great exercises for pregnant women include walking, swimming, certain aerobics and yoga classes, and cycling on a stationary bike.

Many communities offer prenatal exercise classes especially for pregnant women, such as water aerobics.

If you were a runner before pregnancy, you can probably keep running as long as your health care provider says it's OK.

You can also work in your exercise as you go about your day. Take a lunchtime walk with a friend. Take the stairs instead of the elevator.

Choose parking spots farther away from where you need to go, to let you get in some extra walking.

Some activities are not recommended during pregnancy. They may have a higher risk for injury, or for complications for your baby. You should avoid:

  • Horseback riding

  • Water skiing

  • Scuba diving

  • Downhill skiing

  • Contact sports, and

  • Any exercise that can cause a serious fall

Some important safety tips to keep in mind as you get started include:

  • Wear a good fitting bra to help protect your breasts.

  • Wear comfortable clothes and good athletic shoes.

  • Drink water before, during, and after your workout to prevent dehydration.

  • Listen to your body. Slow down or stop if you're out of breath or dizzy.

  • Avoid strenuous exercise in hot weather. Stop exercising if you feel overheated. And,

  • Don't exercise while lying on your back after the third month of pregnancy. This can decrease blood flow to the baby.

You should also stop exercising right away and call your health care provider if:

  • You have trouble breathing

  • You have vaginal bleeding or fluid coming from your vagina

  • You feel dizzy or you faint

  • Your heart is beating too fast and won't slow down

  • You feel contractions or pains in your uterus

  • Your baby isn't moving around as much

  • You have sudden pain or swelling in your calf, or

  • You have chest pain or a severe headache

Exercise can be a great help for your body, and your baby, during pregnancy. Work with your health care provider to plan a safe exercise routine for you.

What We Have Learned

You don't need to check with your health care provider first -- just start exercising.
True or false?
The answer is false. Every woman needs to talk with her health care provider before exercising during pregnancy.

If you get labor pains while you exercise, you should continue exercising until they go away.
True or false?
The answer is false. Stop exercising and call your health care provider.

You should avoid doing any exercises on your back after the third month of pregnancy.
True or false?
The answer is true. Exercising on your back can reduce blood flow to the baby.