Exercise During Pregnancy

From movies to mommy blogs, the image of the pregnant woman always seems to include the stereotype of late-night cravings, looking for excuses not to get up, and emotional outbreaks.

It seems to be embedded in our culture to treat pregnant women as if they were somehow less able-bodied. The truth is, pregnancy symptoms vary not only in type, but severity. Woman say with pride, “I feel fine!” and “Not me”. While a lack of certain symptoms does warrant cause for celebration and pride, most do not. Common experiences of pregnancy, or lack thereof, should not garner respect or a sense of entitlement, as they do not usually indicate a healthier pregnancy nor heavier investment on the mother’s end. For example, if you are not nauseous, that is normal and average. Likewise, if you are nauseous, that is also normal.

Just like non-pregnant women, pregnant women should try to exercise several times a week.

Inactivity, or bedrest, during pregnancy has several risks associated with it.

Believe it or not, pregnancy is a great time to get moving. In fact, some women are even more motivated to work out since they are caring for the well-being of their soon-to-be child, not just themselves. Now, before you go looking up Serena Williams’ pregnancy routine, remember, she is an elite athlete and has very strict supervision; I’m sure she has around-the-clock professional nutritionists, trainers, and exercise medicine specialists. For us normal folk, experts recommend continued activity in moderation, but when you look up approved physical activity, especially sports, the list is scant. For example, no contact sports are approved. However, sports where acute and swift contact is even a possibility, are discouraged. Well, that takes out almost every sport, since “contact” is a possibility. Solo swimming, brisk walking, and the like, are ok. If you are looking for a more social activity, yoga and certain forms of Pilates are also fine.

So, in a nutshell, moderately active and highly active people will likely keep most of their exercise routine (at a slower pace and intensity) throughout pregnancy. No matter what your fitness level prior to pregnancy, you will have to tone it down a notch during the gestational period, particularly after the 24-week mark. Certain activities, whether done at your leisure or professionally are completely off limits. These include, but are not limited to: horseback riding, anything that involves lying on your stomach past the first trimester, and any activity that requires you to hold your breath for prolonged periods of time (including more active forms of yoga).

Post re: appropriate yoga, stretching, and massage during pregnancy to come! Stay tuned.