It’s no doubt that exercising during pregnancy is going to be different for all women. The type of exercise, amount, duration, and intensity will be varied for everyone, and it will be based on factors including your health, your activity level, and whether it’s a pregnancy with a single baby or multiples. Exercising during pregnancy has shown to have multiple benefits for both mother and baby, and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) supports continuing exercises for women with normal, healthy pregnancies. With the okay from your doctor, you can continue to workout as long as you are comfortable or able.
Studies have shown that women who continue to exercise while pregnant show no increase in infertility, spontaneous abortion, ectopic pregnancy, congenital abnormalities, or late placenta complications. There is also no correlation between exercise and premature births.
Pregnancy causes your body to release a hormone called relaxin. This loosens your cartilage and ligaments, which make a pregnant woman more prone to injury. Because of the effects of relaxin on the cartilage and ligaments, you want to avoid movements that can be jarring on the joints and cause you to change directions quickly such as tennis and racquetball; it’s easier to twist a knee or ankle when the ligaments are loose.
The following is a list of exercises that are safe and beneficial during pregnancy. I say “safe” broadly, please make sure to get the okay from your doctor. ACOG guidelines advise pregnant women to stop exercising when fatigued and not exercise to exhaustion.
- Walking/Brisk Walking: This is a great weight bearing exercise you can do, and it can be done throughout your whole pregnancy. It’s easier on the joints than jogging, increases heart rate, increases circulation, increases your energy level, and keeps your muscles strong.
- Swimming: This is a great non-weight bearing exercise. The pressure of the water can help reduce low back pain and edema, frequent sources of discomfort.
- Stationary Cycling: When you lean forward on the bike, try to bend at the hip joint rather than bending at the waist; it will help reduce low back pain. This is a great exercise to increase heart rate and strengthen leg muscles.
- Yoga/Pilates: This is a great low impact workout and helps keep the body strong, flexible, and in balance. Avoid inverted moves that that can put strain on the uterus and shunt blood away from the uterus.
- Low Impact Aerobics and Dance: This is less harsh on the joints but still increases heart rate.
- Weights: Lifting weights can still be continued during pregnancy, but it’s best to opt for lower weight and higher reps. Don’t start a powerlifting workout routine if you are new to weights.
- Jogging: You can continue this only if you were jogging pre-pregnancy. It’s not recommended to start jogging if you didn’t before. It can be jarring on the joints and uncomfortable.
- Body Weights Exercises: Squats, push ups, side plank, lunges. After the first trimester, avoid any exercise where you lie flat on your back as this can put pressure on the inferior vena cava and shunt blood away from the baby. Also avoid laying flat on your stomach after the first trimester. Don’t go down as deep in your squats or lunges if you are feeling uncomfortable or pain, and it’s best to start cutting back on any jumping in the last few months.
Berk, B. (2005). Motherwell maternity fitness plan. Champaign, Ill.: Human Kinetics
Brin, L. (2014). How to exercise when you’re expecting. New York: Plume.
Dion, B., Dion, S., Heller, J. and McIntosh, P. (n.d.). The pregnant athlete.
Sears, W., Sears, M. Prepare right now for a healthy pregnancy.
Author: Andrea Short
A Note From The Raise Vegan Staff
Don’t forget to check out the Facebook Group Ask A Plant Based Dietitian for some great ideas on easy peasy meal ideas for that amazing plant based family! We have awesome posts about Amazing Snacks To Feed Your Kids & If you’re looking for other like minded parents, we have the main group, Vegan Pregnancy and Parenting, over thirty thousand parents, all Raising Vegan! From homeschooling, to food and everything in between. We have you covered for every over asked question that may come your way.
Raising children vegan is sometime wrought with worries about nutrition, and doubts from outside influences. You are doing an amazing thing for your kids, the planet, and most importantly, the animals. We thank you, we are grateful to you, and we admire you! Keep on rocking vegan parents, we are changing the world together!