Exercise is an important part of a healthy pregnancy, and the CDC recommends that pregnant women do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week. Although most first-time moms-to-be may have misgivings about working out while they’re expecting, science has shown that exercise does not increase the chances of early delivery, low birth weight, or pregnancy loss. Still, knowing which workouts are safe while you’re expecting is important since not all forms of exercise are suitable for pregnant women. It’s also important to know what types of physical activities you can do after giving birth to regain your strength and bounce back to your pre-baby body. Here’s a guide to exercising safely during and after pregnancy.
Know which workouts to avoid
Low-impact exercises such as prenatal yoga, Pilates, swimming, and brisk walking are some of the most suitable workouts for pregnant women since they’re low risk and are easy on the joints. However, some physical activities can cause early labor or may put you at risk of falls (HIF), and these are best avoided during all the stages of your pregnancy. Contact sports such as basketball, hockey, soccer, or football should be avoided, as well as sports that require balance, such as ice skating or rollerblading. Any activity or sport that requires you to jump, such as volleyball, boxing, or horseback riding, should also be avoided since these activities can cause stress on the cervix and lead to bleeding during pregnancy or contractions, says the ACOG.
Get your doctor’s permission to workout
Before engaging in any form of physical activity, it’s important to get your doctor’s green light to work out just to be on the safe side. Discuss the form of exercise you’re planning to do and how often you’ll work out so your doctor can advise you on proper nutrition to enhance your pregnancy exercise routine. Once you’re cleared to work out, start slowly and do no more than 30 minutes a day to avoid straining your joints.
Don’t rush to workout after giving birth
You may want to get your pre-baby body back right after giving birth, but don’t rush into working out so soon: your body needs some time to recover, especially if you had a cesarean birth. You’ll need your doctor’s advice on when to start exercising after pregnancy. Still, typically, those who have had vaginal birth can start doing moderate exercise, such as going on short walks, two weeks after giving birth. You may also start doing deep belly breathing, abdominal contractions, pelvic floor exercises, head lifts, and shoulder lifts to get your body ready for regular exercise. Once your doctor gives you the all-clear to start working out again, start with low-impact exercises such as yoga or swimming, and wait for a few months before doing high-impact workouts such as running or lifting weights.
Working out during pregnancy can improve your overall fitness and help you build stamina for labor and delivery. Always ask for your doctor’s advice before starting a workout routine, and avoid any type of exercise that may put you or your baby at risk.