Exercise and Pregnancy

Pregnancy is an ideal time for lifestyle modifications, including increasing physical activity.  Exercise has been shown to improve or maintain fitness and also improves positive outcomes during labor.  The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology guidelines recommend that, in the absence of any complications, pregnant women should exercise at a moderate level at least 30 minutes per day on most days.

If you are new to exercise, you should start slowly and build up your training.  You do not need to check your heart rate, just make sure you can carry on a conversation.  Always drink plenty of water while you exercise.  Exercise should be performed in a normal-temperature (no “hot” rooms) environment to prevent dehydration.

You may want to avoid activities where there is a higher risk of abdominal trauma or falling, such as volleyball, skiing, basketball, and baseball.  As pregnancy progresses, many women feel a change in balance as well; exercise should be modified at this point as needed.

Resistance training, such as weightlifting, yoga, or pilates, is also recommended. Make sure to tell your trainer or instructor that you are pregnant so that he/she can make modifications in the second and third trimester.  The general rule of thumb is not to extend the body past the 90-degree point and keep yoga/pilates positions in the “open phase” rather than the “twisted phase.”

In the second and third trimesters, lying flat on your back should also be avoided in both weightlifting and yoga/pilates due to the risks of a drop in blood pressure.  Modifications can be made to perform the same activity on your side or in the sitting position.  Core work is safe during pregnancy and can help strengthen your back.

Sexual Activity:  In the absence of any pregnancy complications, there is no evidence that discourages sexual intercourse throughout pregnancy.  Most studies have shown no risk of preterm labor or delivery unless a sexually transmitted disease is acquired.  You do not need a condom at any point in your pregnancy unless you are concerned about the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases.