Agape Physical Therapy

Pregnancy and Exercise

Ready or not, baby’s on the way and it is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle to keep both of you safe. During the next 9 months you will experience a wide variety of changes physically, and emotionally. Staying physically fit is important during pregnancy and exercise is shown to decrease the chance of developing gestational diabetes and prepares the body for the stressful demand of labor. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists,  in the absence of a high-risk pregnancy, it is recommended that women participate in 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise a day. It has also been proven that women who exercise during their pregnancy have less back pain, more energy, better body image, and a faster post-delivery return to pre-pregnancy shape.

Now if you’re thinking “I never exercised before my pregnancy so I definitely am not going to start", do not be afraid! There are plenty of gentle prenatal fitness classes for first-time moms. Even going for daily walks can make a big difference. Another option is making an appointment with one of our skilled pelvic floor physical therapists. They are specially trained to work with pregnant women to prepare them for childbirth, activate their core, mitigate low back and pelvic pain, prevent diastasis recti and treat incontinence postpartum. They can also advise you in the correct exercise for you and your baby. During pregnancy, it is advised that contact sports like soccer, basketball, skating, downhill skiing, and gymnastics should all be avoided unless otherwise noted by your physician. Some safer exercise choices include swimming, yoga, walking, use of an elliptical, light weight training, gentle stretching, and of course kegels.  Kegels are important because they help prevent incontinence as well as pelvic organ prolapse.  According to research, 64% of pregnant women experience incontinence and often have no idea how to contract their pelvic floor muscles. To perform a kegel correctly imagine you are trying to stop the flow of urine or trying not to pass gas. Pull your pelvic floor muscles (without contracting your buttocks and inner thighs) “up and in” and hold up to 10 seconds, repeat 5 times.

Below we have compiled a list of some quick tips to keep you safe while exercising during your pregnancy. 

  • If laying on your side, only lay on the left to avoid compression of the inferior vena cava.
  • Avoid lying flat on your back >3 minutes after the first trimester.
  • Avoid positions in which the buttocks are higher than the chest
  • Avoid strong abdominal compression/strain during the second and third trimester
  • Avoid rapid bouncing, or swinging
  • Avoid vigorous stretching 
  • Do not use hot packs on the belly or pelvis
  • Do not overheat and make sure to drink plenty of fluids
  • Allow more time for warm-up and cool-down activities
  • Exercise in a temperature-controlled room (be careful of outdoor activities unless the weather is mild)
  • If table exercises are performed, incline the table 30° and utilize frequent breaks from this position in between sets while monitoring for discomfort.

If you have any questions or concerns feel free to contact one of our skilled practitioners, at Agape Physical Therapy.


Resources
Artal, R. Dodson. E.A., Boehmer, T.K., Leet, T.L., Kiel, D.W. (2007).Gestational weight gain and pregnancy outcomes in obese women: how much is enough? Obstetrics and Gynecology, 110(4):752-8.
Montoya et al. (2010).Aerobic exercise during pregnancy improves health-related quality of life: a randomized trial. Journal of Physiotherapy.56(4):253-258.
Kristina DiMartino
[email protected]
Physical Therapist