When you are healthy and your pregnancy is uncomplicated, the American College of Gynecologists and Obstetricians recommends regular exercise. Engaging in exercise has many benefits for both mother and baby. Physical activity can even make you stronger, which may make you better able to cope with labor and delivery.
After a positive pregnancy test, exercise should continue as long as your physician thinks it’s safe. The ACOG recommends 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day or nearly every day of the week. However, before you begin or continue exercising after becoming pregnant, ask your physician for recommendations and guidelines for safe exercise.
Suitable exercises during pregnancy include both weight-bearing and non-weight-bearing exercises, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. Weight bearing exercises include low-impact aerobics, walking and jogging. Non-weight-bearing exercise includes swimming and cycling on a stationary bike. Avoid high contact exercises such as hockey and basketball or exercises in which you have a high risk of falling.
Stretching during pregnancy can increase flexibility and help relax tight or uncomfortable muscles. Try neck and shoulder rotations – rotating the head in slow circles each way and rotating the shoulders forward and backward. Sit in a chair and extend your legs straight out to stretch your legs. Move your legs in alternating up and down movements. Point your toes and rotate your feet in large circles to rotate your ankles.
Labor and delivery will require toned abdominal, pelvic floor and thigh muscles. Perform pelvic tilt exercises on your hands and knees. Make your back flat first and then inhale, tighten your abdomen and tilt your pelvis forward to round your back. Exhale, move back to the starting position and repeat the exercise 10 times. Perform tailor press exercises by sitting on the floor with the soles of your feet touching. Pull your ankles back toward your body and rest your hands under your knees. Take a deep breath and push your knees against your hands while pushing up on your knees with your hands. Hold this position for five seconds. Perform Kegel exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. Your pelvic floor muscles are the same ones you would contract to stop urine flow. Perform three sets of 15 Kegel exercises every day, holding each contraction for 10 seconds.
Symptoms to Watch For
Monitor your condition as you exercise. If you experience vaginal bleeding or leakage, dizziness, headache, calf pain or swelling, contractions, decreased fetal movement, chest pain or muscle weakness, stop exercising immediately and call your physician immediately.