When you're pregnant, you want to do everything you can to protect your health and the health of your developing baby. In addition to eating well, getting plenty of rest and staying hydrated, exercise is another essential for a healthy pregnancy. But eventually your heavy belly and aching back may make exercise too challenging.
Although you may have to drag yourself off the couch and forego your nap, fitting in exercise time is important for a healthy pregnancy. And besides, getting all that extra blood flowing with a workout can make you feel great and boost your energy levels. However, it is very important to remember that you need to make a few exercise modifications to your pregnancy workouts. While exercise is generally safe during pregnancy, talk to your doctor about your specific limitations and how they may change as your pregnancy progresses. It's important for moms-to-be to avoid exercising too strenuously and stick to lighter exercise. Try going for a walk instead of a run, taking a prenatal yoga class, or going for a swim. Avoid becoming overheated, and don't exercise to the point where you can't catch your breath.
When to Stop
During the last three months of your pregnancy, exercise may become too difficult and too uncomfortable. If you're on bed rest, you'll probably need to stop exercising completely. But if you have an otherwise healthy pregnancy, you may just need to make more adjustments to your workouts. Starting in your second trimester, you shouldn't lie flat on your back – so avoid exercises such as yoga postures that require this position. Throughout your entire pregnancy, avoid participating in sports where your belly could be hit with a ball or other objects or sports where you could fall – such as skiing or horseback riding.
Your doctor may recommend that you not exercise during your pregnancy if you have a health problem or complication of your pregnancy. Babycenter.com says that women at risk of pre-term labor may need to stop exercising during their pregnancy. Women diagnosed with pregnancy-induced hypertension, heart or lung problems, placenta previa or cervical abnormalities may need to stop exercising as soon as the diagnosis is made and their doctors advise against exercising.
Signs of a Problem
If you've been exercising without any issues throughout your pregnancy, be on the lookout for warning signs that you should give your body a break. If you show any signs of pre-term labor, for instance, or have repeated contractions, you may need to stop exercising. If your water breaks, or you experience bleeding, feel nauseous or dizzy or have pain in the belly or vaginal area, stop exercising and check in with your doctor. You should also stop exercising and call your doctor if you are feeling short of breath, developing headaches after exercise or feeling pain in your chest.
Exercise During a Healthy Pregnancy
If you don't have complications during your pregnancy and aren't at risk for pre-term labor, it's probably fine for you to exercise from the day you see that second line on the pregnancy test up until you deliver -- as long as you're feeling up to it. Regular exercise can help keep you fit and get your body ready for hours of labor, and help you bounce back post-pregnancy. Days before your baby is due, you may not be up for a trip to the gym -- but a leisurely walk around your neighborhood or local park can help keep the blood flowing and battle fatigue.