Prenatal exercise

In the absence of either medical or obstetric complications, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that pregnant women exercise at a moderate level for 30 minutes or more per day on most, if not all, days of the week throughout pregnancy. The key here is moderate. Any workout during pregnancy should leave a woman feeling invigorated and energized – never drained. Listening to your body during pregnancy is crucial. It’s especially important to stay well hydrated and avoid overheating.

Any activities with the risk of a fall or sudden impact, such as a contact sport, should be avoided. Choose walking over running, light resistance training over tennis or other sports that emphasize lateral movement. One common risk throughout pregnancy is dehydration, and this can be heightened when exercising. To guard hydration levels, I recommend drinking water before, during and after every workout. A cup of soup or salty broth prior to a workout also does wonders to protect mineral and electrolyte balance. It’s important to monitor how you’re feeling and lighten up on the intensity if you find you’re huffing and puffing. To stay on the safe side, make sure you can maintain a conversation throughout any workout. Listen to your body. Rest when tired.

While exercise during pregnancy can curb excessive weight gain and lower the risk of gestational diabetes, it offers other important benefits to both mom and baby.  Maintaining a safe level of activity can help expectant moms avoid many pregnancy discomforts, such as back pain and swelling. Moderate exercise helps strengthen and stabilize mom so she can keep herself and her baby safe during pregnancy, labor with strength and bounce back fast. In fact, studies show that exercise during pregnancy shortens the  ‘push’ time of labor time by over 33%! These are all excellent reasons to exercise moderately during pregnancy.

To keep weight gain in a reasonable range, I recommend eating plenty of healthy, real food to nourish both mom and baby. Skip the junk, especially sweets and sugary drinks. These heighten the risk of gestational diabetes and offer nothing of nutritional value to the growing baby. The most important consideration is to adequately nourish both mom and baby while maintaining a healthy and safe activity level. Aim for 30 minutes per day 4-6 days per week. If it’s a low energy day, opt for a nap instead of a workout. Think about nourishing yourself and your baby with every choice you make.