Exercise during pregnancy is now being prescribed by doctors, midwives, and other care-givers alike. The benefits of exercising—during what is arguably the most important time in your life—outweigh the risks. However, you have to be smart, use your head, and listen to your body. Regardless of whether you are an athlete, a fitness enthusiast, or lead a sedentary lifestyle, there are some rules that apply to everybody once you pee on a stick and get the + sign.
Don’t stop doing what you are currently doing! Just because you have a bun in the oven doesn’t mean you have to drastically change your life. Pregnancy is not an illness and should not be treated as such. Although you may feel like it’s an illness during the first 3 months of bliss (gag), the best and smartest thing you can do for you and your baby is to continue doing what your body is already used to.
Don’t cut back on water. There are pregnant moms out there who suffer from toxemia, edema, or swelling. Instead of keeping active and elevating their feet, many cut back on water in fear of retaining too much. This is very old-school thinking and actually causes MORE retention because you need water to help eliminate toxins.
Don’t do any exercise that requires you to lie flat on your back after about 16-20 weeks gestation.
Don’t exercise to the point of exhaustion. Don’t push yourself too hard. When I train clients, I push them to about 80% of their max; it is a MUST for building muscle and burning fat. However, once you become pregnant and your heart rate increases (approx. 10 beats per min), your blood volume almost doubles and your oxygen uptake decreases. Pushing yourself only increases your risks of injury.
Don’t fall victim to the “cookie cutter” approach. Every pregnancy is different and unique, and your exercise routine is too. Make sure you talk to your doctor, and listen to your body.
You don't need to stop exercising during pregnancy, but you do need to make sure you are exercising the right way and taking care of your body and your baby.