Exercise Caution—Staying Fit During Pregnancy

August 2013 View more

N2013_08_01_004FITNEWhen I was pregnant with my first child, many days were spent at Centennial Beach swimming laps. I believe my activity level laid the foundation for an easy delivery. Today, more than ever, exercise is encouraged for expectant mothers. Gone are the days when mothers-to-be sat idle waiting for the birth of their child. Today, women are staying active throughout their pregnancies and healthy babies are the by-product.

Seeing an expectant mother running a 5K or even marathon is no longer unusual. In fact, being fit while pregnant is encouraged to support a healthy baby and delivery.

“Expectant mothers no longer need to heed the advice of keeping their heart rate under 140 beats per minute,” says Kristen Horler, CEO and founder of Baby Boot Camp & Karna Fitness. “The ACOG (American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) guidelines were updated in 2002 to eliminate this recommendation. Therefore, women are encouraged to instead focus on rate of perceived exertion as well as the talk test: If you are able to talk normally while exercising, your heart rate is at an acceptable level.”


Get Moving Momma

Being active during pregnancy is important due to the vast number of changes that occur in a woman’s body. If exercise classes aren’t your thing, or you don’t have the time, Horler encourages short walks. “You will feel better for having done something active, it will help with your digestion and general sense of well-being throughout your pregnancy. I recommend finding a walking buddy. Ask your partner, or a friend, to commit to walk with you,” said Horler.

If you weren’t active before pregnancy, it’s not to late. However, proceed with caution. “The ACOG recommends that women who were previously inactive, or those with medical or obstetric complications, should be evaluated by their physician before physical activity recommendations are made,” says Horler, mother of two. “So, if you have clearance from your doctor to begin a walking program or a fitness class, you can enjoy the many benefits that regular physical activity can provide.”


Safe Exercise Tips

  • During pregnancy, women need to pay extra attention to their food and water consumption. Keep healthy snacks readily available, stay hydrated and listen to your body. Your blood volume increases by 40 percent during pregnancy, so maintaining proper hydration can help with these changes, including maintaining a healthy level of amniotic fluid.
  • Some pregnant women may not feel well during exercise. Horler suggests its likely low blood sugar and eating a small snack should help. Two bites of a healthy bar or half a banana can often do the trick. 
  • If you feel thirsty, you may already be dehydrated so don’t let yourself get to this point. Dehydration during your third trimester may trigger uterine contractions and lead to preterm labor. Keep a bottle of water with you. If you have difficulty drinking plain water, try squeezing fresh lemon, lime or grapefruit into your water. Horler enjoys coconut water as another way to keep hydration in check. 
  • Your body and your baby know what it needs. Listen to what you are truly craving before devouring something that just looks or smells good. Slow down and enjoy each bite of food—you may be satisfied sooner than you think. 

Although exercising while pregnant may be easier to schedule, once baby arrives, your time is no longer your own. In order to keep up with your exercise after birth, it’s important to establish a routine. “An established routine is an essential part of adapting to being a new mom. Join a stroller-based fitness class or mommy-and-me yoga to stay active and meet other new moms,” says Horler. 

If you’d like information about a Baby Boot Camp in your area, visit www.babybootcamp.com