Is Exercise During Pregnancy Safe: Yay or Nay?

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Is exercise during pregnancy safe?
Is exercise during pregnancy safe or not? Let's finally answer this question! Photo via Unsplash.

There are many myths around women’s health issues, many of which have been passed down from mother to daughter over generations. Fortunately, women today have easy access to all kinds of useful, and scientifically-proven facts about their health issues, presented in ways that are easy to read and understand. You can click here for more info. Many of the most common myths concerns the question of is exercise during pregnancy safe? Many women mistakenly believe the answer is no. While there are certain exceptions, it can often be even more important for her to workout while pregnant than ever. Let us explain.

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Some women believe that as soon as they find out they are pregnant, it’s time to pack away running shoes and rest their feet. But they are wrong. If you exercised regularly before becoming pregnant, stopping because you are pregnant could be the worst thing you could do.

Also, if you have never been particularly physically active, pregnancy could well be an excellent opportunity to change your lifestyle – and benefit both you and your baby. Plus, researchers are currently investigating just how much the first nine months of your baby’s life – before birth – could influence the rest of their life.

Most women know that they a healthy lifestyle is even more important while pregnant. For many, that means stopping smoking and drinking alcohol, eating a healthy diet, and “taking it easy.”

Taking it Easy

It’s the “taking it easy” part of the pregnancy lifestyle formula that causes so much confusion. Many people wonder, is exercise during pregnancy safe? The bottom line is that scientific data supports the fact that for normal, healthy women, exercising while pregnant is recommended. In fact, exercise while pregnant can be very beneficial to both the mother and the baby.

However, that does not mean that a pregnant woman should go out and run a marathon.

Nevertheless, women often exercise less during pregnancy or choose not to exercise at all because of some of the discomforts associated with pregnancy.

Obstacles to Fitness while Pregnant

Discomforts that can make exercise more difficult while pregnant include:

  • Leg cramps
  • Leg swelling
  • Tiredness
  • Shortness of breath

It becomes difficult to move as your bump increases in size over the nine months.

Very often, pregnant women simply don’t feel like exercising. They might feel tired all the time and develop a poor body image, perceiving themselves as fat and bloated. Not surprisingly, this can make them feel depressed. Ironically, regular exercise can actually do wonders for one’s mood and tiredness.

But what if your doctor orders total physical inactivity such as bed rest? Doctors usually prescribe bed rest to prevent or treat several serious conditions including threatened miscarriage, early labor, slow fetal growth, swelling, and pre-eclampsia.

Benefits of Exercise during Pregnancy

Overall, when addressing the issue of is exercise during pregnancy safe, it poses minimal risk to most women. In fact, there can be many short- and long-term benefits for both mother and baby.

The maternal benefits are both physical and psychological.

Physical benefits include:

  • Shorter and easier labor
  • Fewer delivery complications
  • Improved cardiovascular function for less breathless
  • Lower risk of muscle cramps and leg swelling
  • Reduced risk of suffering from
    • Gestational diabetes
    • Pregnancy-related high blood pressure
    • Pre-eclampsia

Also, women who exercise during pregnancy regularly are less likely to develop varicose veins or suffer from heartburn and lower back pain. They also often gain less weight, but this does not significantly result in lower birth weight of the baby.

From a psychological perspective, physical activity improves one’s mood and feeling of well-being. It also contributes to better sleep patterns which, in turn, makes one feel less tired.

Benefits for Baby Too

Studies show that appropriate physical activity benefits the baby too. But prolonged, high-intensity levels of exercise could potentially be harmful to the supply of oxygen required for adequate growth of the fetus. So, is exercise during pregnancy safe is less so when it’s a prolonged high-intensity exercise that challenges the regulation of the internal body temperature. This activity may compromise the health of the fetus.

On the other hand, women who work out while pregnant often have a larger placenta, resulting in a healthier blood exchange and a potential supply of nutrients to the fetus. Another advantage is that there is generally less subcutaneous fat (fat under the skin) in the babies of exercising mothers.

So, is Exercise during Pregnancy Safe?

Despite all the benefits of exercising while pregnant, there are instances when a pregnant woman should not exercise at all. These include women who have been diagnosed with serious conditions such as:

  • Hemodynamically significant heart disease
  • Restrictive lung disease
  • Incompetent cervix

Also, women who have persistent second or third trimester bleeding would be best to avoid exercise. The same holds true for those with placenta previa, particularly after 26 weeks gestation, or who have premature labor, ruptured membranes or pre-eclampsia.

If you are not sure about is exercise during pregnancy safe for you, please see your doctor before doing so. Get the approval from your doctor about types of fitness activities and frequency beforehand.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Exercises are most essential to both mother and baby provided that they stay in a well healthy condition. And not that the mother has to do vigorous workouts but easily attainable workouts that will keep her strong.

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