Over the years obstetrician’s advice to pregnant people regarding exercise has varied. OBs used to recommend that women slow down or stop exercising entirely. More recently the advice to women was to keep exercising if they had done a form of exercise before, but not to start anything new.
However, the most recent guidelines from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) (the big-wigs of childbirth) state that:
“Physical activity in pregnancy has minimal risks and has been shown to benefit most women”.
They go on to recommend that “women with uncomplicated pregnancies should be encouraged to engage in aerobic and strength-conditioning exercise before, during, and after pregnancy”.
This is pretty awesome that the gold standard of care is now to recommend exercise during pregnancy.
All women should have a thorough clinical evaluation with their doctor to ensure that they don’t have a medical reason to avoid exercise.
But, once they are cleared by their doctor, ACOG recommends that pregnant women work up to at least 20-30 min of moderate intensity exercise on most or all days of the week. Some forms of exercise that would meet these criteria are: walking, swimming, stationary bike riding, and strength training.
It is recommended that pregnant people avoid certain forms of exercise including exercise that increases body temperature too high such as hot yoga or exercise types that involve a higher risk of falling and impact including downhill skiing, gymnastics, horseback riding, and surfing. For a complete list of recommended exercises and exercises to avoid click here and check out Box 3 of the attached article.
Women should also listen to their body while they are pregnant. If they experience any concerning symptoms during or after exercise, then likely they need to modify.
Here is a handy pneumonic to remember symptoms to look out for during prenatal exercise. It is called the 5Ps
*Hot tip – these are the same physical symptoms to look out for during exercise postpartum!!
If you are having any of these physical symptoms during or after exercise, you need to make a change! Luckily, we have fabulous specialized pelvic floor/women’s health physical therapists both in Jackson and Alpine who have special training in working with clients who are pregnant and postpartum. Our skilled PTs will do a thorough examination and medical history and get to the root of your symptoms. They can also make recommendations for modifications to ensure that you can get your doctor recommended 20-30 min of moderate intensity exercise daily without pain or discomfort!
Exercise during pregnancy has many clear benefits to both mama and baby.
According to ACOG there are studies that have shown that
exercise during pregnancy can lower your risk of gestational diabetes, decrease cesarean likelihood, improve postpartum recovery time, and help prevent preeclampsia.
There are some fabulous benefits! I would add to this list that exercise in pregnancy can help improve your mood and help you deal with stress. Also maintaining strength and aerobic endurance will help you postpartum with the physically demanding tasks of parenthood including lifting and holding baby, carrying a car seat, lifting loads of laundry, and bending to pick up toys.
In summary, once you are cleared by your medical provider both aerobic and strength training exercise is SAFE and BENEFICIAL for you and your baby.
If you are having any of the 5P symptoms during or after exercise come visit one of our experienced Women’s Health Physical Therapists in Jackson or Alpine!
We can help you reap the benefits of physical activity during your pregnancy without pain. If you are ready to get started, contact our office.
Not sure if PT is right for you? We offer free 30 min Discovery Visits with a physical therapist where you can chat with a PT about your symptoms and find out if PT would be helpful for you. No commitment.