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Exercise during pregnancy

shutterstock_111457892Too busy to exercise during pregnancy? There is data out there suggesting that you should try to squeeze in a few workouts a week.

Some of the benefits of exercise during pregnancy for mom include:

  • Reduced weight gain
  • Improved muscle tone
  • Improved self esteem
  • Decreased incidence of varicose veins
  • Improved sleep
  • Decreased incidence of low back pain, musculoskeletal pains
  • Improved posture, body mechanics
  • Improved heart, lung function
  • A possible link is decreased need for induction, cesarian deliveries, episotomy, anesthesia
  • Prevents and provides treatment for:
    • Gestational diabetes
    • preeclampsia

Some of the benefits of exercise during pregnancy for the baby include:

  • Decreased fetal fat mass
  • Decreased risk of preterm labor
  • Decreased risk of going past term
  • Tolerates stress of contractions better
  • Decreased risk of cord entanglement
  • Higher APGAR scores at birth
  • Tend to sleep through the night better
  • Tend to readily self-quiet if disturbed
  • At 1 year of age:
    • No difference in baby’s height, weight, circumference, body fat
    • Significantly better mental performance
    • At 5 years of age:
      • Higher IQ and oral language scores
      • Less body fat
      • No differences on height, head, chest circumference

The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends the following exercise guidelines:

  • First obtain medical clearance to exercise
  • Exercise at least 3 days per week for no more than 45 minutes
  • Exercise at a level where you can speak full sentences. You should not become winded easily during the activity.
  • Avoid laying on your back to exercise after 16 weeks gestation
  • Monitor hydration, body temperature
  • Stop exercise if you experience extreme shortness of breath, dizziness, headache, chest pain, or contractions.
  • Don’t exercise when fatigued or to exhaustion – listen to your body

Other exercise guidelines include:

  • Drink fluids before, during, after exercise
  • Do not exercise in hot or humid conditions
  • Avoid contact sports after 16 weeks gestation
  • Avoid exercises that:
    • Are bouncy, jerky
    • Rapid, uncontrolled bouncing or swinging, sharp twists (horseback riding)
    • Compress the abdomen
    • Place your buttocks higher than your chest (bridges)
    • Laying on your back for longer than 3 minutes after your 4th month

Research shows that there are many benefits to exercise after having a baby as well. Some of the benefits include:

  • Weight loss
  • Increased positive mood, energy
  • Decreased anxiety, depression
  • Decreased urinary stress incontinence
  • More relaxed mother-child relationship
  • Improved sleep
  • Decreases risk factors for heart disease, diabetes, obesity and other conditions.

The timeline to return to exercise after childbirth varies depending on a number of factors. Please contact your physician to obtain clearance on when to resume exercise.

**Before beginning any exercise program, consult your physician. If you have questions regarding specific exercises, please contact your physician, midwife or physical therapist.**

If you feel you or someone you know would benefit from physical therapy during pregnancy or in the postpartum period, contact your OB-GYN or call Mercy Oakwood Rehabilitation Services for more information at (920) 236-1850.


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