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Network Health Blog

Getting and Staying Active When Expecting

woman making heart symbol with hands over pregnant belly

When my husband and I found out we were expecting a baby, we were thrilled. But, when I realized our due date was the beginning of August, I was nervous how I was going to handle the hot summer months being very pregnant. I have been lucky that it has been a milder summer this year, but nonetheless, pregnant women tend to run hot especially with the additional weight we are carrying.

I’ve been able to continue exercising during my pregnancy but had to alter my routine a bit. Being a runner before I was pregnant, my doctor approved that I could continue running at an easy pace. I was able to run up to five months of pregnancy before I started having shin splints. I listened to my body and decided that I needed to stop running and focus on other ways of exercising. What worked best for me was to walk about 20-30 minutes during lunch with a co-worker, then walk again for 20-30 minutes after work (or later in the evening if it was too warm, often encouraging my husband to come with me). I also invested in work out videos specifically designed for pregnant women that focus on stretching and strengthening of the arms and legs. I switched an evening of walking for a workout video if it was too warm outside.

Swollen ankles and feet are a common concern for women in the later months of pregnancy. Since I sit most of the day at work, it was important to get up every hour to get circulation moving in my legs. My doctor recommended wearing compression socks. I bought running compression socks that pulled up to my knees and I would wear these to bed to help relieve any swelling in my legs, ankles and feet that accumulated during the day. This really helped my swelling to go down and also prevented calf cramping during the night. If you are able, compression socks could be worn during the day underneath pants.

Being active and exercising can benefit your health during pregnancy in the following ways:

  • Increases energy
  • Promotes muscle tone, strength and endurance
  • Helps you sleep better
  • Brings more blood and oxygen to your baby
  • Can have other positive effects on your baby’s health
  • Easier to get back in shape after your baby is born

The ideal exercise routine gets your heart pumping, keeps you limber and controls your weight gain without causing too much physical stress for you or the baby. Unless your health care provider tells you not to, you should do moderate exercise for 30 minutes or more on most days of the week. If you have not been active, start slowly with a few minutes each day and build up to 30 minutes.

Safe exercises can include walking, swimming, prenatal yoga and prenatal exercise videos. You’ll want to avoid activities where there is a high risk of falling or losing balance such as basketball, soccer, some racquet sports and water skiing. Also, after the first trimester of pregnancy, avoid doing any exercises while you are lying on your back. Be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep from overheating and dehydrating and it’s also important to consume the extra daily calories you need during pregnancy. Discuss your exercise routine with your health care provider. When you eat well and exercise during pregnancy, your baby will get what it needs to grow and be healthy.

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