Is it safe to exercise during pregnancy?
Florian Walter, MD, is an obstetrician/gynecologist at Banner Estrella Medical Center.
Question: Is it safe to exercise during my pregnancy?
Answer: Generally speaking, yes. When I get asked this question from my patients, I first talk to them about their pre-pregnancy exercise. Then we work together to create an individualized exercise regimen for them.
Most women may benefit from 30 minutes of daily walking during pregnancy, assuming no complications. Recreational and, in some cases, even competitive athletes with uncomplicated pregnancies can remain active during pregnancy and, as medically indicated, may modify their routines.
Some women continue to engage in very strenuous or "extreme" sports while pregnant, but I recommend they do so only under close medical supervision.
There are some additional guidelines to follow before starting or continuing an exercise routine during pregnancy.
For women who were previously inactive and have preexisting medical conditions or new onset obstetrical complications, a medical evaluation should first be performed by a doctor before engaging in physical activity. Additionally, patients with a history of preterm labor, preterm delivery, or having delivered a previously growth restricted (underweight or undersized for gestational age) baby should have an evaluation and recommendation from their doctor before engaging in exercise during pregnancy.
Once an exercise routine is underway, it's important to keep watch for warning signs that may indicate a medical problem. These warning signs include: vaginal bleeding, shortness of breath prior to exercise, dizziness, headaches, chest pain, muscle weakness, calf pain or swelling, amniotic fluid leakage and decreased baby movement. Women who experience any of these symptoms should terminate exercise immediately and contact their doctor.
The take home message is that you should discuss your exercise needs with your doctor to develop a simple exercise regimen that will allow you to stay active and deliver a healthy baby.