When you’re pregnant, especially for the first time, you naturally start to worry about the health of yourself and your growing baby. So when it comes to exercising during pregnancy, you may wonder, is it safe? When should you start? How much is too much? Unfortunately, the internet is flooded with contradictory and misleading information. The good news is that exercise and pregnancy are perfectly safe and even beneficial!
Myths About Exercise During Pregnancy
Because the fitness industry is so crowded, it is understandable why there are so many myths revolving around women, exercise, pregnancy, and weight loss. Here at Raleigh OB/GYN, we want to ensure you are provided with reliable information regarding your pregnancy journey. We’re here to bust 5 myths about exercise and pregnancy:
Myth #1: Lifting Weights During Pregnancy Is Dangerous
Lifting weights has been shown to increase your overall health while decreasing your risk for a heart attack, stroke, and osteoporosis. In fact, studies have found that lifting weights may reduce your risk for a heart attack by 40 to 70 percent. The benefits of lifting weights don’t reverse when you fall pregnant. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology lists resistance exercises, which includes lifting weights, as safe during pregnancy. Light to moderate weight lifting three to four times a week has great benefits such as strengthening your muscles, protecting your core and lower back, and building or maintaining endurance.
Myth #2: Only Low-Impact, Gentle Workouts Are OK
As long as your doctor clears it and your pregnancy is not high risk, by no means does exercise during pregnancy have to be limited to walking or gentle yoga. Running, indoor cycling, interval training, cross-training, and similar activities are all encouraged. And between those types of exercise, low-impact and gentle workouts are great for keeping your body moving too! Keep in mind that pregnant women are not encouraged to participate in contact sports such as kickboxing, karate, soccer, or softball.
Myth #3: If I Didn’t Workout Before Pregnancy, I Shouldn’t Start Now
You can run a half marathon or practice gentle yoga– there is never a “right” way to move your body. Even if you were sedentary before falling pregnant, working out during pregnancy is almost always recommended. The only reason it is not recommended is if your doctor does not clear it or if there is a possibility of a high-risk pregnancy. Studies show many benefits, as exercise reduces:
- The risk of excessive weight gain
- Preterm birth
- Low birth weight
- Risk of C-section and developing diabetes
- High blood pressure during pregnancy.
Additionally, physical activity may help ease the aches and pains of pregnancy and even reduce the risk of postpartum depression. Remember that because every woman and pregnancy is different, it is essential to listen to your body during exercise and not push it too far past its limits.
Myth #4: It’s Not Safe To Do Abdominal Workouts
A strong core helps with everyday activities, from tying your shoes to walking upstairs. Abdominal muscles promote a healthy back, good posture, balance, and stability. These reasons alone may be enough to get you doing sit-ups. Whattoexpect.com suggests strengthening your abs when you’re expecting supports your pelvic organs as your baby bump gets bigger. Some pregnancy-safe abdominal exercises include:
- Forearm planks and side planks
- Glue bridge
- Squat with rotation
- Knee lift
- Incline mountain climbers
With clearance from your doctor, adding abdominal exercises into your workout routine has many benefits and can even be done from the comfort of your own home!
Myth #5: By Working Out Too Much, I Will Pull Nutrients From My Baby
Although it may make sense on paper, working out will not pull nutrients from your baby. In fact, according to WebMD, if your body is going to draw nutrients from somewhere, it will be your own nutrient store and not the babies. To ensure you and your baby are getting adequate nourishment, try eating small, frequent, and nutritious meals. This will also help you keep your blood sugar levels balanced which is essential for optimum health and functionality, pregnant or not!
Do you have more questions about exercise and pregnancy? Our team of physicians, nurses, and medical staff are committed to answering all your questions regarding your unique pregnancy journey. For more information, give us a call at 919-876-8225 or request an appointment.