EXERCISE in Pregnancy
Exercise in Pregnancy1-4:
- Women with uncomplicated pregnancies should do regular aerobic (like walking, swimming, cycling etc.) and strength conditioning exercise.
- Regular exercise, with the approval from physicians or midwife, can help to minimize the physical discomforts of pregnancy and help with the recovery after the baby is born.
- Physical activity does not increase women risk of miscarriage, low birth weight or early delivery.
- Exercise is beneficial for pregnant women, as this helps in the prevention and management of diabetes.
- According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, women who exercised and were physically fit before pregnancy can safely continue exercising throughout pregnancy.
- Women should try to achieve on average 20–30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise (walking, dancing and gardening) four to five times per week. Moderate intensity is best defined as 13–14 on a 20-point scale (somewhat hard to hard) or the level at which women can still talk while exercising.
Examples of moderate-intensity aerobic activity include walking and general gardening. Other activity like yoga are shown in figure, modified yoga and modified pilates (a system of exercises using special apparatus), stationary bicycle, etc., can be done.
Regular exercise during pregnancy benefits women and fetus in these key ways:
- Reduces back pain
- Eases constipation
- Decreases the risk of diabetes, a condition in pregnancy characterized by high blood pressure, sometimes with fluid retention and cesarean delivery
- Promotes healthy weight gain during pregnancy
- Improves overall general fitness and strengthens heart and blood vessels
- Helps to lose the baby weight after women baby is born
Women with the following conditions or pregnancy complications should not exercise during pregnancy:
- Certain types of heart and lung diseases
- Being pregnant with twins or triplets (or more) with risk factors for premature labor
- An abnormal implantation of the placenta after 26 weeks of pregnancy
- Premature labor or ruptured membranes
- Pregnancy-induced high blood pressure
- Severe bloodlessness
- Leaking of amniotic fluid
- Weakness or fainting
- Vaginal bleeding
- Shortness of breath
- Decrease in unborn baby’s activity or other complications
- Exercise during pregnancy. Adapted from https://www.acog.org/patient-resources/faqs/pregnancy/exercise-during-pregnancy
- Artal R, O'toole M. Guidelines of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists for exercise during pregnancy and the postpartum period. British journal of sports medicine. 2003 Feb 1;37(1):6-12.