Benefits of exercising during pregnancy

By Dawn Dahlgren-Roemmich, Certified Nurse Midwife

 

As a baby grows throughout a pregnancy, it’s beneficial for both mom and baby to find the optimal fetal position. This means that your baby is lined up correctly in your pelvis to promote an easier and more efficient birth. In order to move the baby, we need to move the mother. To achieve optimal fetal positioning, the mother needs to actively stretch and exercise during the prenatal timeframe and continue this into her labor and birth process.

Small group of early 30's pregnant women doing Pilates.They are sitting in a row,leaning over one leg with one elbow on the floor.Other arm is stretched over head and eyes are closed. The woman in focus is wearing blue sweat pant and red sleeveless tank top.

Exercise during pregnancy can include low-impact exercises like stretching, yoga, aerobics, walking and swimming. Partaking in these exercises for 20 to 30 minutes a day can help reduce backaches, constipation, bloating and swelling. It can also help prevent gestational diabetes; increase your energy; improve your mood and posture; and promote muscle tone, strength and endurance.

 

How to avoid injury

During pregnancy, your body makes a hormone called relaxin, which can cause the ligaments that support your joints to relax. This can put your joints at an increased risk of injury. Your center of gravity also shifts during pregnancy due to the extra weight gain, placing more stress on your joints and muscles. You may be more likely to lose your balance.

Your need for oxygen also increases when you are pregnant. As your belly grows, you can become short of breath, which can affect your ability to do strenuous exercise.

To decrease your risk of injury, avoid high-impact exercises, and make sure that you are doing exercises that are safe for pregnant women. Drink plenty of water before, during and after your workout to avoid dehydration. If you feel dizzy or fatigued, which are signs of dehydration, sit down and drink cool water.Pregnant woman exercising by walking and carrying a bottle of water.

Avoid standing or lying flat on your back for prolonged periods of time. When you lie on your back, your uterus presses on a large vein that returns blood to the heart. Standing motionless can cause blood to pool in your legs and feet. Both of these positions can decrease the amount of blood returning to your heart and may cause your blood pressure to decrease for a short time.

Do not exercise if you experience any of the following conditions until you have checked with your provider:

  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Feeling dizzy or faint
  • Shortness of breath before starting exercise
  • Chest pain
  • Headache
  • Muscle weakness
  • Calf pain or swelling
  • Regular, painful contractions of the uterus
  • Fluid leaking from the vagina

 

You have options

Here at Tri-County Health Care, we offer two great low-impact exercise programs that are safe for pregnant mothers at no cost to you: Prenatal Yoga and Tri Aquatics Moms Course. I would highly recommend both classes to assist you with fetal positioning.

exercising pregnant moms in a warm water therapy pool.Prenatal Yoga is a weekly class at TCHC designed to reduce stress and anxiety while increasing your strength and flexibility. Tri Aquatics Moms Course is a quarterly class that educates expecting mothers on fitness including low-impact aerobic exercise with stretching, strengthening and range of motion activities for the entire body. Exercises are done in a warm water pool which helps to provide a reduction of pain associated with the later stages of pregnancy for expecting moms.

We also have a great rehabilitation department that can assist you with learning exercises that are safe for pregnant women and that can alleviate the discomforts of pregnancy. Click here to learn more about Tri Rehab Services.

To sign up for Prenatal Yoga or Tri Aquatics Moms Course, click here.

For more information about Midwifery Services, click here.

 

Dawn with her family posing for a family photo. About the Author: Dawn Dahlgren-Roemmich is board certified by the American College of Nurse-Midwives and takes a special interest in integrative medicine and water birth. She became a certified nurse midwife to empower women and to make the journey of pregnancy to birth a joyous event for the family. She and her husband have three daughters and one son. They also have a bunny, two border collies, three horses and a pony.

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