Staying healthy and fit throughout your pregnancy is important, as when your due date arrives you are going to embark on one of the most physically strenuous events you will ever take part in. Giving birth is akin to running a marathon, and you wouldn’t choose to run a marathon while you’re out of shape would you?
Disclaimer: The writer is not a medical professional and none of the following should be construed as medical advice. Please be sure to check with your health care provider before beginning a new physical fitness regime.
Who Should Exercise?
Again, I cannot stress this enough: check with your doctor! In general, though you are not a great workout candidate if you are experiencing bleeding or you have a weak cervix.
You should also avoid aerobic activities if you have:
- Preeclampsia/pregnancy-induced hypertension
- Ruptured membranes (probably you’d be too busy in this case to worry about getting to the gym)
- Persistent second- or third-trimester bleeding
- Placenta previa
- Premature labour or you are at risk for premature labour
What Exercise Can I Do?
If you were a physically active person before your pregnancy you can likely continue on as before with some modifications as needed.
If exercise is new for you, most doctors will recommend starting out with activities such as swimming or walking. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology has recommended 30 minutes or more of physical activity a day – or most days a week.
The Perfect Pregnancy Do-Anywhere Workout
You might not like what I’m about to say but stay with me here–Squats are your friend.
Yes, the workout move that so many of us love to hate is the move that will save our butts during pregnancy.
There are tons of great reasons to do squats: They work the entire lower body, specifically the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and the muscles that make up the calves.
Squats during pregnancy adds a whole other layer of awesome:
- Now you’re working to improve your pelvic floor muscle strength – strong pelvic floor muscles contribute significantly to guiding the baby’s head down the birth canal during childbirth and providing support to the bladder, uterus and bowels.
- Strengthening your glute muscles (AKA your butt) helps to decrease lower back and pelvic pain. Working those glutes helps to maintain stability in your pelvic region, and this prevents pain which is often caused by ligaments loosening due to pregnancy hormones relaxin and progesterone.
- Squats are a wonderful way to practice “gravity aiding” labour positions. Strengthening your leg muscles will help you hold postures longer during childbirth that help you cope with painful contractions and encourage Baby’s descent into the pelvis.
Stop Squatting If:
Do not continue with your workout if it is causing you pain. You might just need to tweak your technique–seek advice from a professional.
If you find that Baby is presenting bottom down, consider holding off on squats. Squats help push a baby deeper into the pelvis so if Baby is breech you don’t want to continue until the Baby has turned from his or her breech position.