It's not every day that you see a pregnant woman going for a run, like Miss Kourtney Kardashian here. On her hour-long jog, I'm sure she got some stares and whispers. Not just because she's famous, but because she's got a big bun in the oven. They're probably wondering, is this safe for her baby, and safe for mom? Regular exercise is encouraged by doctors for those expecting, because it can help a woman stay healthy, and alleviate some of the discomforts like stiffness, back pain, leg cramping, or constipation. Working out can also prevent unnecessary weight gain, relieve stress, and get a woman ready to endure the physical challenges of labor. With that said, there are some guidelines a pregnant woman should follow when working out.
- Don't make any big changes to your exercise program once you become pregnant. If you were running regularly before you conceived, then it's safe to keep it up, as long as it feels good and you don't overdo it. If you want to start a new type of exercise, talk to your doc first.
- Be OK with modifying your routine, especially as your pregnancy progresses. If you used to run four miles a day, you may find that you'll need to cut down in the beginning of your pregnancy. And once you're in the end of your second trimester, or third, walking may be best.
- Don't do any types of exercise that put you or the baby at risk, like extreme sports that require balance, speed, or could result in you falling. Your doctor will probably recommend you save the surfing, skiing, horseback riding, biking outdoors, and rock climbing for after delivery.
- Avoid contact sports such as softball, dodgeball, and volleyball. Aside from the risk of getting hit, jarring motions where you're turning directions quickly could result in abdominal trauma.
- Opt for low-impact workouts instead. Swimming, dance classes, brisk walking, biking on a stationary bike, using an elliptical, and prenatal yoga are all great options.
- Drink plenty of water and be sure to get the extra 300 to 500 calories you need during pregnancy.
- Don't exercise in hot, humid conditions. That means the 105ºF temps in a Bikram Yoga class may not be the best type of yoga to choose.
- Keep your heart rate below 140 beats per minute.
- Do Kegels. These exercises strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, which support your uterus, bladder and bowel.
- In your second and third trimesters, avoid exercises where you lie on your back for extended periods. As your uterus grows, its weight can compress the blood vessels leading to your heart, potentially depriving your baby of oxygen. That means crunches and supine leg lifts are OK in the beginning of your pregnancy, but not toward the end.
- Most importantly, listen to your body. If you feel tired, slow down or take a break. If you feel overheated, get some air. If you're thirsty, drink water. Exercising is meant to complement your pregnancy, not make you feel worse.
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