Exercise plays an integral role in maintaining overall well-being, especially for expectant and new mothers. Working with your primary care physician or your OB/GYN to establish healthy diet and exercise habits before you get pregnant can help set a good foundation of health. Having those habits already in place will help you maintain them throughout your pregnancy. Incorporating fitness into a regular routine during pregnancy can help reduce your risk for gestational diabetes and preeclampsia, ease back pain, decrease constipation and aid in a quicker recovery after childbirth.
Even if you weren’t exercising before, you can still start incorporating it into your life during pregnancy. Talk to your OB/GYN about what is appropriate for you and start slowly.
Exercising during pregnancy has many benefits, including helping you maintain a healthy weight. It’s always important to talk to your doctor about what’s best for you, but most women with low-risk pregnancies can exercise normally. Common routines like running, yoga, Pilates or weight training are okay to practice during pregnancy, but all women should avoid contact sports or exercises where they are likely to fall or get injured. Be mindful while you exercise. Pay attention to what your body is doing and where you are going to avoid injury. If you start to cramp, or experience bleeding or headaches, you may be pushing yourself too hard and need to slow down. Be careful about overheating while you’re pregnant and don’t forget to drink plenty of water.
While the timing of when you can start exercising again can vary depending on your birthing experience, most doctors recommend waiting six to eight weeks before getting back to a normal routine. When you do start to exercise again, start with light exercises and listen to how your body responds. Going for short walks is a good place to start, but give your body time to recondition itself. There are plenty of classes and trainers throughout the community that can help you stay healthy during and after pregnancy.
Dr. Jennifer Ozan is an OB/GYN at Eagle OB/GYN and a member of the Cone Health medical staff. Dr. Ozan received a Bachelor of Arts in neuroscience from Skidmore College in 2006 and her medical degree from the University of North Texas Health Science Center, Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine in 2010. She completed residencies in obstetrics and gynecology at St. Francis Hospital in 2014.