Pregnancy isn’t the time to begin training for your first marathon. Nor is it the time to hone your skills as a first class couch potato. It is a time to be healthy and, pregnant or not, health usually includes exercise.
The typical recommendation is that pregnant women engage in aerobic exercise daily. Aerobic exercise can be any type of exercise during which your breathing keeps up with your body’s oxygen demands. Remember – the focus is on jogging as opposed to sprinting.
Starting an exercise routine before you conceive is best, but if you find yourself pregnant all of a sudden and you haven’t been exercising you can ease into a routine by starting a daily walk. Head out fifteen minutes away from home or your place of work, so you are forced to walk the same fifteen minutes back and aren’t tempted to cut it short (to attend to one of the zillion of things that I’m sure you have to do). Once you establish a routine, plan on walking daily for 30 minutes or so. Sure, there will be occasional days where the weather is too bad, but fortunately, here in Hampton roads those days are few.
If you are already committed to an exercise routine during conception, talk to your obstetrician about how it may need to be modified as the pregnancy progresses. Some activities, such as weight lifting, might be OK for the first few months of a pregnancy but won’t be recommended in the third trimester.
Remember, the goal isn’t to get in the best shape of your life during the next nine months: it’s to avoid nine months of inactivity, which will only make it harder to get back in shape after the baby arrives.
There are of course certain conditions which might make it inadvisable to exercise while pregnant, including premature labor and when a miscarriage is threatened. All pregnant women should ask their obstetricians about what is best for them, but remember, there are studies that show that women who exercise appropriately during pregnancy have fewer complications and a lower cesarean rate.
Dr. Craig H. Ruetzel has practiced in Hampton Roads since 1992. In addition to his comprehensive knowledge of women’s health topics, Dr. Ruetzel performs several highly-specialized and minimally-invasive procedures including laparoscopic hysterectomy and urinary incontinence surgery. Dr. Ruetzel is board certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology and is a member of both the Medical Society of Virginia and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.