The world today is filled with so many exercise possibilities: running, biking, weight lifting, yoga, and pilates to name a few. Gyms offer all types of aerobics classes and personal training options to cater to today's fitness enthusiasts, and the options do not stop for pregnant women. They just expand into specialized classes and videos for the expectant mother.
With the growing knowledge that exercise is recommended for pregnant women, we can only hope the trend of positive effects continues to pour in. Recent studies suggest strength and conditioning gains during pregnancy may actually prevent the typical aches and pains associated with pregnancy. Unfortunately, during pregnancy, changes that your body undergoes can place you at a higher risk for possible injury.
Injuries can happen to anyone regardless of what shape they are in; but many are preventable through proper instruction and form. In this article, we will discuss the typical injuries that can occur during pregnancy, and why they occur. Part II will explain ways to prevent them through exercise.
You may be thinking, "I did not exercise before I got pregnant, so why should I now?" If preventing injury is not enough of a reason to exercise, check out a few of the many potential benefits to you and your baby:
- Better posture and overall appearance
- Fewer discomforts of pregnancy (back pain, foot pain, leg cramps)
- Decreased morning sickness, labor time, and less weight gain
- Increased strength of the muscles needed for delivery
- Improved muscle tone and fitness, which will carry over postpartum
- Better sleep
These are only a few examples, so hopefully they're motivating enough to get you up and moving!
You're always advised to check with your doctor before beginning or continuing an exercise program once pregnant. Also, be aware that certain pregnancy conditions and exercise do not mix. As stated by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), you should not exercise if you have any of the following complications: pregnancy-induced hypertension, ruptured membranes, premature labor, persistent bleeding after 12 weeks, a cervix that dilates ahead of schedule (incompetent cervix), poor fetal growth, multiple birth pregnancy, placental disease, or a history of three or more miscarriages or premature labor.
If none of these apply to you, and your doctor gives you the "OK," then the ACOG suggests aiming for 30 minutes (or more) of moderate exercise each day, on most days of the week. If you are already exercising at this level, then great! But proceed with caution. Your body is changing, increasing your risk of injury if you are not careful. All of these changes are inevitable, but they do not have to be a precursor to injury, if dealt with properly by stretching, strengthening, and postural work.