Staying active throughout pregnancy is filled with benefits for you and your baby — from improved sleep and overall energy to a smoother labor and faster post-birth recovery — but the key is knowing how to exercise safely and well. So in order to reap those rewards of advanced development for your little one and better stamina for you, here are the basic do’s and don’ts to keep in mind!
- DO talk to your care provider. Just because your mom, sister or friend worked out a certain way when they were pregnant doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best choice for you, too. Every woman’s pregnancy is different, so before you jump into a new exercise program, be sure to consult with your doctor. The professional who knows your medical history and is acquainted with your conditions will be the person best equipped to advise you on exercising.
- DO stay hydrated — very hydrated. Drinking lots of water is always important in pregnancy, but particularly when working out.
- DON’T wear overly tight clothing. The last thing you want when you’re already feeling bigger and less comfortable than normal is to wear clothes that make the situation worse. So avoid super-tight workout clothes, and opt for loose clothing in breathable fabrics instead. Likewise, as your body grows, don’t expect your usual workout clothes to cut it. Instead, go ahead and spring for larger items that will accommodate your growing abdomen.
- DO resist the urge to stay sedate. When you’re sick to your stomach or dealing with swollen ankles, it can be all too tempting to put your feet up and watch television. But remind yourself that, as long as you have the OK from your physician, moderate exercise can pay by dividends down the line, from less discomfort to less weight gain.
- DON’T start an intense new routine. If you weren’t the type to workout before pregnancy, now is not the time to take on high-impact activities. Don’t take up running or mountain biking when you didn’t do those things before getting pregnant; your body is under more stress now and won’t recover as quickly.
- DO shoot for 30-minute sessions. Great-for-pregnancy workouts include swimming and walking, at low to moderate intensities for half hours at a time.
- DON’T work out on your back. Avoid the exercises that have you lying on your back, such as crunches or certain types of aerobics, particularly once you’ve reached the halfway point in your pregnancy. Exercising your back and abdominal muscles is important, but try standing or side exercises instead. Prenatal yoga or prenatal Pilates can be excellent choices for this!