Exercise During Pregnancy
Pregnancy offers an array of information and preparations to digest, and one area not to overlook is exercise. Attitudes toward pregnancy exercise generally fall into three camps. First are those who say, “I don’t exercise normally. Why would I start now that I know I am going to gain weight?” The second are those who think, “I finally have an excuse not to! It’s time to enjoy eating for two—and bring on the maternity pants!” Third are those who declare, “I love exercising! I don’t plan to have pregnancy interfere with my normal regimen.”
Exercise offers many benefits throughout pregnancy, regardless of your current fitness level. According to FitMotherKC.com, “Expectant mothers can benefit from exercise during pregnancy by experiencing less susceptibility to constipation, swelling, leg cramps, varicose veins, fatigue and extra weight gain. Exercising pregnant women often have an overall feeling of wellness, confidence and self-esteem.” That being said, pregnancy also brings along certain limitations and possible exclusions. This was not the case for Overland Park mother of two Nicole Cain, who says, “It sounds like I am nuts, but I got off the StairMaster at the gym three hours before I had my youngest at 39 weeks.”
Dr. Bruce B. Snider, M.D., Olathe Women’s Center, says. “It kind of depends on what you were doing prior to being pregnant. If you are in an exercise program, we recommend our patients to moderate their exercise, but it’s fine to continue. If you are not exercising, we certainly don’t want you signing up for a high-impact aerobics class, but various workout centers offer prenatal workout classes.” He advises mothers-to-be to defer to what their own physicians say, but says some pregnancy risk factors require a halt to exercise, such as placenta problems like placenta previa, vaginal bleeding or risk for or onset of pre-term labor.
I am currently pregnant with my third and have had different relationships with exercise throughout all three of my pregnancies. During my first pregnancy, I tried to hit the gym occasionally, and during my eighth month we got a puppy that I walked nearly three miles daily. I am a firm believer in that helping with my postpartum recovery after an emergency C-section. Exercise as well as the fresh air and sunshine helped immensely with becoming a mother for the first time.
I took up running about a year later and tried to keep that up while pregnant with my second. I ran/walked up to 20 weeks with him, but then kept to short dog walks as winter set in. Being in better shape that time around made recovery similar to my first experience. Before this third pregnancy, exercise had become an integral part of my life, so it was a difficult lifestyle adjustment this time. It’s been hard to draw my mileage back down, but I’ve just had to set new goals for running while pregnant. First time running 2 miles while 25 weeks pregnant! Getting slower, but still running at 28 weeks pregnant! With an ever-growing belly, there’s extra weight and pressure on my bladder, and additional bathroom and water breaks are necessary.
Now there are many exercises that are safe while pregnant, including simply walking, exercise machines, swimming (buoyancy helps relieve that extra weight!) and exercise classes and videos. I have ventured into a few Zumba classes while largely pregnant, and they offer great comic relief! When asked what exercises women often overlook, Dr. Snider suggests, “For patients that aren’t in an aggressive exercise regimen, I just tell them to walk. Even consider the Fitbits that people wear now that encourage people to get up and walk around the house. It doesn’t have to be something that’s organized; you just need to be active and walking.”
Darcy King, Olathe mother of two, did just that. “I walked all the way through. Although at the end, the distances were shorter and the speed was snail’s pace.”
Please consult your health care provider before beginning or continuing any exercise regimen and look into personal trainers and classes designated for pregnant women.
How local moms “worked the waddle”:
- “I did yoga from the beginning until I was 28 weeks with my third pregnancy,” says Rachel Rhinehart, Overland Park mother of three.
- Meredith Barreth, Overland Park mother of three, says, “I walked with my first until I was seven months, did water aerobics until I had my second and did prenatal yoga and walking aerobics videos at home with my third. I really enjoyed water aerobics and yoga.”
- Mariko Burger, Olathe mother of one, says, “I walked and ran all the way through. I did a 5K at 39 weeks and felt great. I also did lots of yoga and swimming.”
- Local mom Angela Gbepka says, “I did walking, prenatal water aerobics and lap swimming. It was different each pregnancy, depending on the season/weather. With my second, I swam and did water aerobics until the very end at 41 weeks (August baby).”
Stephanie Loux is attempting to keep up exercising while expecting her third baby in April.
As always, please consult your health care provider with any questions or concerns.