The health of your baby will depend in no small part to your own state of health. There are issues of diet, rest, exercise, stress management, and specific issues related to your personal health history that need to be understood as you progress through your pregnancy.
As a primer, we would like to share with you the following summary from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ revised guidelines for exercising while pregnant (from Obstetrics & Gynecology 2002; 99: 171-173). The guidelines were last updated in February 1994.
Exercise Guidelines from American College of Obstetricians Obstetrics & Gynecology 2002; 99: 171-173
- In the absence of contraindications (see List A), pregnant women are encouraged to engage in 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise a day on most, if not all, days of the week. As always, check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.
- After the first trimester, pregnant women should avoid supine (on your back) positions during exercise. Motionless standing should be avoided as well.
- Participation in a wide range of recreational activities appears to be safe. However, activities with a high risk for falling or abdominal trauma should be avoided during pregnancy, such as ice hockey, soccer, basketball, gymnastics, horseback riding, downhill skiing and vigorous racquet sports.
- Scuba diving should be avoided throughout pregnancy.
- Exertion at altitudes of up to 6,000 feet appears to be safe; however, engaging in physical activities at higher altitudes carries various risks.
Absolute Contraindications to Aerobic Exercise During Pregnancy
- Hemodynamically (pertaining to the movements involved in circulation of the blood) significant heart disease
- Restrictive lung disease
- Incompetent cervix/cerclage
- Multiple gestation at risk for premature labor
- Persistent second- or third-trimester bleeding
- Placenta previa after 26 weeks of gestation
- Premature labor during the current pregnancy
- Ruptured membranes
- Preeclampsia/pregnancy-induced hypertension
Warning Signs to Stop Exercising and Call Your Doctor
- Vaginal bleeding
- Dyspnea (difficult or labored breathing) prior to exertion
- Chest pain
- Muscle weakness
- Calf pain or swelling
- Preterm labor
- Decreased fetal movement
- Amniotic fluid leakage