Exercise is OK (for most) when you have a baby on the way
Beyoncé made headlines in 2017 when she cancelled her performance at the Coachella music festival in California. With twins on the way, she made the announcement after doctors advised her to skip the concert.
That might be good advice for someone expecting twins whose job includes high-energy dancing, but for most moms, moderate exercise is encouraged during exercise.
“We know that exercise is an important part of staying healthy,” said Jodi Belson, a Certified Nurse Midwife with Cape Cod Healthcare. “Everyone needs physical activity, including pregnant women, so getting regular exercise during pregnancy is recommended.”
In a recent article in the Journal of American Medical Association, three researchers wrote, “Pregnancy is no longer considered a state of confinement. An active lifestyle during pregnancy is safe and beneficial.”
Belson, who works in the Family Birthplace at Cape Cod Hospital and sees outpatients in the CCH obstetrics and gynecology department, said there are many benefits to exercising during pregnancy.
“It can reduce back pain in pregnancy,” she said. “It can ease constipation. It may decrease the risk of gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia, and it improves general fitness.”
Safe forms of exercise during pregnancy include:
- Walking, including brisk walking
- Swimming or any type of water aerobics
- Stationary bicycling
- Modified yoga and modified Pilates
“If somebody is already an experienced runner or racket-sports player, they may be able to keep doing those activities during pregnancy,” she said. “You wouldn’t want to start that type of exercise during pregnancy.”
And you can maintain an exercise program throughout your pregnancy, especially if you’re used to regular exercise, she said.
“There are certainly some precautions,” she added. “Drink plenty of water and avoid becoming overheated.”
Exercise to avoid includes any kind of contact sport, she said – “anything that would put you at risk of getting kicked in the abdomen or anything that would result in a fall, like skiing or water-skiing. Also avoid scuba diving and any activities above 6,000 feet unless you already live at a high altitude.”
Exercise in pregnancy is not recommended for some women, Belson said, including women who have heart disease or pregnancy-induced high blood pressure, cervical insufficiency or pre-eclampsia. Being pregnant with twins or triplets or having other risk factors also can be indicators that exercise should be reduced or ended.
In any case, be sure to ask for advice from your obstetrical care provider, who can help find a healthy middle ground between bed rest and overdoing it.
“If you see any warning signs, including vaginal bleeding, feeling dizzy, shortness of breath or chest pain, stop and call your obstetrician,” Belson said. “Don’t try and push beyond those things.”
RELATED: Looking for other tips to help you prep for a safe, healthy pregnancy? Learn why strengthening your pelvic muscles is important here.