Exercising for Two
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Exercise has good aerobic effects for the baby, too. In a 2011 study from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, researchers found that the heart rates of fetuses whose moms exercised regularly were lower than fetal heart rates in non-exercising moms. By 36 weeks of gestation, the most frequent exercisers had fetuses with the lowest heart rates.
Walking, swimming and stationary cycling are good aerobic exercise choices for expectant moms. Runners who were in top physical shape when they became pregnant may be able to keep running for at least part of their pregnancy, but should share their plan with the doctor, first, as some modifications will be necessary. Swimming, in addition to working all major muscle groups, removes pressure from the joints. That can be a big relief during pregnancy. LESS
A Few Minor AdjustmentsContinuing to exercise is very important, and keeping an eye on the changes in your body will help you do it safely. After the first trimester of pregnancy, you should avoid lying on your back, including during exercise. This position can slow or block the return of venous blood to your heart. READ MORE
Your joints are under increasingly greater pressure as your fetus grows. Near the end of your pregnancy, as your body prepares for delivery, your joints are more flexible than usual. Throughout your pregnancy, avoid activities that include jumping, bouncing or rapid directional changes that could harm your joints.
Make sure that you drink plenty of water and wear light clothing to prevent overheating or dehydration. Also, be sure that you are eating enough, especially if you are expending calories by exercising every day. For most activities, only small changes are necessary to ensure safe exercise. Protecting your joints, preventing falls, and avoiding overheating should be the main objectives of the changes you make. LESS
What's Too Risky?Certain activities are totally off limits during your pregnancy, because they are just too risky to you and the fetus. Any sport in which you are at risk of falls should be set aside during your pregnancy: downhill skiing, water skiing, gymnastics, most racquet sports, and team sports in which you could collide with another player. Scuba diving and the changes in pressure it involves could be very dangerous for both you and the fetus.
Some women develop complications and are confined to bedrest for part of their pregnancy. The idea is to strictly limit physical activity, but your doctor may approve some stretching and light activity, depending on your complication. Ask your obstetrician whether it's a good idea to do Kegel exercises or passive stretching of the limbs while you are taking it easy. READ MORE
Of course, even the safe activities are a problem if you overdo it. Here are the warning signs that you should stop exercising immediately and consult your doctor:
- vaginal bleeding or leaking fluid
- dizziness, feeling faint
- shortness of breath
- chest pain
- muscle weakness
- calf pain or swelling
- uterine contractions
- decreased fetal movements