Regular physical activity during pregnancy is great. It can:
- improve your mood and self-image
- help ensure appropriate weight gain
- help you relax and reduce stress
- promote better sleep
- increase your muscle tone, strength and endurance
- help build your stamina for labour and delivery
- speed up your recovery after labour and delivery
- help increase your energy levels
Start easy and progress gradually
If you’ve been inactive, start with mild activities like walking and swimming. Even five minutes a day will help. Gradually increase the time you’re active to 30 minutes a session. Before starting a new physical activity program, you should talk to your doctor.
Don’t overdo it!
You should be able to carry on a normal conversation during physical activities. If you’re feeling more tired than normal, take it easy and rest for a day.
Keep cool and hydrated
Drink lots of water before, during and after physical activity to avoid overheating and dehydration. You should also refrain from being active outdoors on overly hot or humid days.
If you’re already active, think about how you can modify or replace weight-bearing activities such as running, high-impact aerobics, hiking and tennis with low-impact activities such as walking and swimming as your pregnancy progresses.
Build physical activity into your daily routine. The type of activity you choose is up to you, as long as you feel comfortable doing it and your doctor says it’s OK.
I’ve never really been active. Should I start now that I’m pregnant?
Physical activity can make you feel better and be beneficial for you and your developing baby. The decision to be active during pregnancy may be the first step toward a long-lasting healthy way of life for you and your family. Remember to speak with your doctor before you begin and start slowly.
I’m already active, but now I’m pregnant. Can I continue to be active?
If you were active regularly before becoming pregnant, continue your program and make changes as you need to. Talk to your doctor about your current routine to see if and when you may need to make any adjustments. Most importantly, listen to your body as it changes from one month to the next and only do what feels comfortable for you.
Can I lift weights?
Weight training is generally safe as long as the resistance is light to moderate. Using heavier weights could put too much stress on muscles and ligaments. Proper controlled breathing is also very important. After your fourth month of pregnancy, experts suggest modifying exercises that require lying on your back so they are performed on your side, or while you are standing or sitting.
How can I tell if I’ve overdone it?
If you’re really tired and you feel like stopping, then it’s time to stop. If you still feel tired, give yourself a break for at least a day. Call your doctor if you have any of the following symptoms:
- persistent contractions
- bleeding from the vagina
- increasing back pain, pubic pain, or pain in the abdomen
- sudden swelling of the ankles, hands or face
- dizziness or shortness of breath
- excessive fatigue
- difficulty walking
- changes in usual fetal movement
- swelling, pain, and redness in the calf of one leg
Source: Health Canada’s Healthy Pregnancy Guide, www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/hp-gs/guide/04_pa-ap-eng.php
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