By: Megan Blomeyer, MS-IV
Women First Health Center
Drs. Sylvester, Lo, Youngren and Sansobrino
Eating a well balanced diet, avoiding harmful substances and gaining the appropriate amount of weight are essential for a healthy pregnancy. Additionally, exercise and safe travel are important components. Part 1 of this blog series described healthy eating habits, and part 2 gives you information about proper activity during pregnancy.
1. Always wear your seat belt with the shoulder strap between your breasts and the side of your belly and the lap belt under your tummy.
2. Take plenty of breaks during long trips. Frequent stops so you can walk and stretch your legs are beneficial during travel.
3. Do not turn off your car’s air bags.
4. Be sure to check with your airline if you plan to fly during the end of your pregnancy. Most airlines will not allow you to fly during the last month of your pregnancy. If you do fly during your pregnancy be sure to stand up and move around the plane when it is safe to do so as well as shift positions and move your legs and feet often to prevent clots from forming.
Exercise is good for everyone. It can help your mood, increase your energy level and aide with sleeping. In pregnancy, it is important to talk to your doctor about your previous exercise habits, overall health and any concerns you may have before starting an exercise program. Once your doctor approves, exercising at a moderate level as tolerated for 30 minutes a day is encouraged in pregnant women. This activity should continue in the postpartum period beginning about 2 weeks after delivery.
Benefits of exercising during pregnancy:
1. Prevention of excessive weight gain
2. Decreased risk of pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes
Exercising may also help with glucose control in women with gestational diabetes. Please note that if you have been diagnosed with pre-eclampsia, exercise should be avoided as it increases blood pressure and may take blood away from the placenta which is the baby’s way of “breathing” while inside the mother’s womb. The placenta is already compromised by pre-eclampsia, and exercising can make this worse.
3. Prevention or reduction of lower back pain symptoms
4. Reduced constipation, indigestion, hemorrhoids, varicose veins and stretch marks
5. Preparation for childbirth
Studies have shown reduced labor time, less exhaustion during laboring and fewer medical interventions when the mother exercised regularly during pregnancy.
Most doctors recommend walking and swimming as good exercises for pregnant women and encourage them to avoid exercises such as hockey, soccer, basketball, horseback riding, downhill skiing and gymnastics because of the risk of falling and/or hurting your tummy. Falling or hurting your belly can lead to separation of the placenta from the uterus. Swimming is especially helpful because it does not add extra weight or stress to your joints, reduces swelling and does not require balancing techniques. Running and jogging are generally approved as long as you were running before pregnancy, remain well hydrated, avoid over-heating and wear running good shoes.
To exercise safely, you must be aware of the following:
1. Drink plenty of water and avoid exercising in hot or humid weather
2. Avoid lying on your back after the first three months of pregnancy
3. Begin slowly and increase your activity level slightly each time
4. Wear a bra that supports your breasts.
You should stop exercising and immediately notify your doctor if you develop any of the following symptoms:
1. Bleeding or loss of fluid from the vagina
2. Difficulties breathing
3. Feeling light headedness or dizziness
4. Chest pain or a headache
5. Leg pain, swelling, redness or warmth
6. Muscle weakness
8. Decreased movement of your baby
Exercise and eating right are important components of a healthy pregnancy for both your well-being and also the development of your baby. If you have any questions about the information in this blog or would like further information, please contact your doctor.
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Rocco, G. Exercise and Nutrition in Pregnancy. Family Medicine and Women’s Health.
Wellness Program. University of California Riverside. Accessed 6 October 2013.
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