Doctors agree, exercise during pregnancy is safe and recommended for most women. Ideally, fitness and health are solid components of your life before you get pregnant. But, it is never too late to create healthy habits and lifestyle choices.
If you are just getting started with exercise now that you are pregnant or if you have been working towards a weight loss goal before you got pregnant there will be some changes to your exercise goals.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists considers the following nine conditions absolute contraindications to exercise during pregnancy. A contraindication is a situation which makes a particular treatment or procedure absolutely inadvisable. Basically, the danger or a serious health risk or even death for mother and or baby is greater than the benefit the exercise has the potential to provide for both mother and baby. Read the whole article for all 12 Reasons NOT to Work Out During Pregnancy.
9 Reasons Not to Work Out During Pregnancy
- Heart Disease - If you are at risk for heart attack or stroke or other cardiovascular conditions your doctor will advise you not to workout during pregnancy.
- Incompetent Cervix - this is where the cervix becomes weak, dilating early and leading to miscarriage or preterm labor.
- Multiple Gestation at Risk for Premature Labor - There is always more risk involved with multiple gestations and even if everything looks great your doctor may still advise you not to exercise and obviously increasing your risk of delivering too early is ill advised.
- Persistent Second or Thirds Trimester Vaginal Bleeding - Placental abruption and labor will both cause pain and bleeding but the complications and risks are too varied and something to have checked by a doctor especially with regards to exercise.
- Placenta Previa - when the placenta covers the cervix; this also causes bleeding during the second half of pregnancy and exercise is not safe.
- Preeclampsia or Pregnancy-induced Hypertension - High blood pressure is a serious condition with the potential for death for both mother and baby, and exercise will create more unnecessary risk for both.
- Preterm Labor During the Current Pregnancy - Regular contractions with changes in the cervix putting the mother at risk of delivering before 37 weeks which should be avoided and exercise would not help the condition but only create more danger of delivering too soon.
- Preterm Ruptured Membranes - Your baby is at significant risk of distress and you are likely to go into labor soon after your water breaks and even if just a little bit of water is leaking your baby is at risk of infections; it is not the time to get a workout.
- Restrictive Lung Disease - When you have inadequate ventilation or oxygen, with exercise on top of that you will be putting too much stress on not just your own lungs but your baby will not get the necessary oxygen in the blood which is seriously detrimental.
3 More Reasons Not to Work Out During Pregnancy
- Sleep Deprived - our health suffers, we become injury prone, our judgment lacks, simply make a rule that if baby (or anything) kept you up last night don't exercise until you feel rested otherwise you will do more damage than good.
- Sick - of course use your best judgment here (if it hasn't been impacted by a lack of sleep!) A running nose may be no big deal but if you have pain or are expelling bodily fluids it is best to rest and get better before taking on some exercise during pregnancy.
- Too Hot - Keeping your temperature at a normal range during pregnancy is not just for your comfort but for you and your baby's health. Especially during the first trimester the risk of the baby developing defects of the central nervous system.
As always use your best judgment. Some people don't need any reasons not to exercise during pregnancy and choose not to as a personal preference (your body really is doing a lot of work already!) and some ladies will still try to work out even if they tick all 12 boxes for 12 Reasons NOT to Work Out During Pregnancy Talk to your doctor if you have any concerns and make sure your OB knows your plans to exercise so they can make sure you are healthy. Even if Doc says you are healthy for exercise consider your fitness level before starting and don't start with hardcore workouts or attempt any activities which put you at risk of falls even if you are experienced in those activities. You also may be thinking that because you are in your first trimester and more mobile and don't even look pregnant that you can get away with riskier activities. This is far from true and in many circumstances, the first trimester holds more risks to your growing baby than the second or third, just remember risk is never worth you or your baby's well being.
When I was pregnant with my first and third child I couldn't run. In fact, it felt like both my girl's skulls were grinding against my pelvic bone and the urgency to evacuate my bladder was always more significant than the actual output. I admittedly did not exercise with my first child but with my third, I taught prenatal/postnatal water aerobics and was able to maintain until the week before I delivered. With my second child, I was able to run during the second and third trimester and felt good doing it until the last two or three weeks before I delivered him.
While history reflects a different opinion in most; now doctors and professionals and even mothers recommend exercise appropriate for you and your comfort level during your pregnancy as long as there is no risk to you and your baby. And if you don't exercise during pregnancy for any reason, there is always after you deliver to get fit and healthy for you and your family.
Let me know what you think; exercise or "Naw my body is already working super hard so it is time to prop up the feet for 9 months every time life allows."
Berk, Bonnie; Motherwell Maternity Fitness Plan; 2005
Brin, Lindsay; How to Exercise When You're Expecting; 2011