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Published on September 10, 2019

mid section of pregnant woman lifting weights

Can I Continue Exercising During Pregnancy?

Pregnancy can be uncomfortable and tiring. Very tiring. Even though you’d prefer to turn off the alarm and sleep in during those nine months, it’s probably better you didn’t.

When it comes to exercise, the best advice is to continue at your fitness level, whatever that may be, and make adjustments for intensity and belly growth as necessary.

“We don’t tell women to change anything before or during pregnancy,” said Molly Uhing, MD, OB/GYN with Avera Medical Group. “During pregnancy women constantly feel pregnant and therefore think they shouldn’t keep exercising, and that’s the battle we work against — we encourage people to stay fit.”

As always, talk with your provider directly about any concerns. While there are some health issues that would change that recommendation to continue exercise, during a healthy pregnancy it can help women get ready for labor and delivery.

In fact, women who exercise are more likely to have a vaginal delivery and research indicates that it also shortens overall labor and active pushing time, Uhing said. One study published in the European Journal of Obstetrics indicated it shortened labor an average of 57 minutes.

Go By Feel As You Start

Uhing recommends women who are already active continue on their current course and to go by feel when it comes to intensity.

Lying on your back should be avoided after the first trimester, so make changes accordingly. For instance, instead of sit-ups do planks.

If you don’t have a regular exercise routine before pregnancy it’s not too late. Uhing suggests women start walking three to five times a week. Mind-body exercises are also recommended as well as any type of pool exercise such as water aerobics.

“Anything in a swimming pool is amazing for a pregnant woman — it feels good because you’re floating and it takes pregnancy out of the equation,” Uhing said.

In the end, Uhing said exercise will help with stamina during labor and delivery, which is a very active time.

“First-time moms can push three hours without intervention,” Uhing said. “We really want people to come in physically fit to withstand the labor process.” Learn more about our birthing experts and get more healthy pregnancy tips.

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