Training While Pregnant

Well, I went and did it again. I had another baby. And while she’s the cutest thing in the world, the extra fifteen pounds she left me with aren’t so cute. You might be tempted to think, “So much for her training” along with my sleep, my clean house, and sometimes my sanity. But that’s not the case anymore. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists actually recommends that women with uncomplicated pregnancies get at least 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise a day on most, if not all, days of the week. My training log will attest to the fact that I hardly cut back at all until my belly was too unwieldy to maneuver.

Unless you’re experiencing serious complications, sitting around won’t do much for you or the baby. On the other hand, exercise can help ease or even prevent discomfort associated with pregnancy, boost your energy level, and improve your overall health. Exercise may help pregnant women avoid gestational diabetes, a form of diabetes that sometimes develops during pregnancy. It also enhances well-being and promotes early recovery after labor and delivery.

Researchers have shown that exercising can actually make for an easier pregnancy and delivery. They found that those who exercised delivered healthier babies with stronger fetal heart rates. Regular exercise can help you prepare for labor by maintaining or increasing your stamina and muscle strength. In fact, in women who exercised, time spent in labor was shortened by about a third, with 65% of the women delivering in four hours or less. When you’re in labor, every extra hour can seem like an eternity, take my word for it.

As with any health condition, you’ll need to consult your physician early on in your pregnancy. You’ll want to discuss your exercise plans in detail as well as make a few adjustments to your normal exercise routine. Pregnant women should avoid lying on their back during exercise as much as possible. Motionless standing also is associated with a significant decrease in cardiac output, so this position should be avoided as well. In general, participation in a wide range of recreational activities appears to be safe. However, any activities with a high risk of falling or for abdominal trauma should be avoided. Cycling outdoors should be discontinued beyond the 7th month, because as the baby moves, so does the mother’s center of gravity, which may increase the risk of falling. Swimming and water running provide great alternatives which decrease joint forces, while allowing a pregnant athlete to maintain some intensity.

Pregnancy causes so many physical and lifestyle adaptations, it can be overwhelming. The important thing is to be in tune with your body, and to focus on bringing new life into the world. And while you may not feel like running a marathon, most women benefit greatly from exercising throughout their pregnancy. Your baby will thank you for it!