Common wisdom used to tell women not to get too physical during pregnancy. The idea was that too much physical activity could present problems for the expecting mother and even increase the risk of harming the baby as it developed.
That ship has sailed.
Nowadays, the scientific consensus is the opposite — that exercise is good for the mother and her baby, not the way around.
There often is a lag between what science says and what culture accepts, so with that in mind, let’s address a few of the more common exercise concerns for an expecting mother:
1. Don’t Do Any Heavy Lifting
Heaviness is in the eye of the beholder, so let’s get more specific. If you’re lifting up to 25 lbs., most medical professionals agree that you’ll be all right. Often times, you could lift 50 lbs. without incident. Largely, it has to do with the level of physical fitness you have headed into pregnancy.
With that said, there are circumstances that you want to consider. For example, if you have an elevated risk of premature labor, you may have to be a bit more careful. Among other situations, that would apply to women who:
- have delivered preterm before or who have experienced preterm labor before.
- are pregnant with twins, triplets, or more
- have reproductive organ abnormalities
2. Your Pulse Shouldn’t Climb Above 130
There’s no evidence to support this one. Since heart rate varies so greatly, doctors instead subscribe to the concept of RPE, or the rate of one’s perceived exertion. RPE better measures how hard you are exerting yourself and is a better measure of whether you’re straining than just looking at your pulse.
3. Don’t Work Out Your Core
This one is also untrue. Working out your abdominals is not only good for your posture as well as your back, but it also may help expedite labor as well as delivery, accordingly to registered nurse Julie Tupler.
As long as aren’t overexerting yourself (per the RPE point above), then a core workout is a positive, not a negative.
4. Don’t Start Exercising If You Weren’t Before
False again. In fact, it’s recommended that pregnant women exercise at least 30 minutes per day. The results can be pretty remarkable, often reducing depression risk, blood pressure issues, as well as many of the other fitness benefits anyone else experiences, like improved sleep and elevated energy.
It’s also possible that you can pass along benefits to your child. You’re more likely to deliver a baby at a lower weight, and babies with less fat are significantly less likely to develop childhood obesity. Remember, you eat for two — and in many ways exercise for two as well.
5. Avoid Aggressive Exercise That Could Disrupt The Baby
Another false one. Running, for example, is perfectly OK for you and your baby if you feel up to it. Listen to your body. You might reach a place in your pregnancy where you simply don’t feel up to running. Trust that instinct. Walking is also incredibly beneficial, so you could switch to something less intense instead.
Common wisdom used to tell women not to get too physical during pregnancy. But now, we know different. Exercise can provide a whole host of benefits to you and your baby. As long as you are listening to your body and consulting your doctor, exercise is perfectly OK and, in fact, encouraged.
Kevin Jones is a freelance writer, researcher and fitness instructor/consultant. He had helped hundreds of people find ways to become more fit and healthy through a balanced life focusing on an individualized approach to their nutrition and fitness. In addition, Kevin has written extensively in the fitness and health industries, including writing for companies such as a ICON Fitness brand NordicTrack. Connect with Kevin online; LinkedIn – Twitter