Exercise and Pregnancy

You’ve made it! It’s July in Seattle and summer is here! The Mountain is out, and the gray drizzle of November is a distant memory. But hold on, you’re also pregnant or thinking about pregnancy. What does that mean for your jog around Green Lake, or your stroll around the neighborhood or your next Barre/Yoga/CrossFit class? 


Exercise in pregnancy is a hot topic and there are many long-held beliefs and much unsolicited advice pregnant women come across. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends pregnant women get at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise each week. Ideally this would be split-up throughout the week, for example 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. If you already have an exercise routine, it’s likely that you can continue it through pregnancy. If you don’t have a routine, and you are pregnant, now is a great time to get moving! Before starting an exercise program (or if you have any questions), check with your healthcare provider.


Most exercise during pregnancy is safe and beneficial to both mom and your developing baby. Just a few of the benefits of regular exercise during pregnancy are a reduction in the risk of gestational diabetes (diabetes of pregnancy), lower risk of needing a c-section and faster postpartum recovery. Activities that are generally considered safe range from walking, swimming, and cycling, to Pilates, jogging and yoga. 


As your pregnancy progresses, some modifications may be necessary to avoid positions that might limit blood flow to the uterus or cause sudden drops in blood pressure. Additionally, it is normal for joints to become looser and balance to change during your pregnancy. These changes can increase the risk of injury during some activities and should be addressed with your physician or midwife. 


Until about 12 weeks of gestation, the bones of the pelvis largely protect the uterus, but there is still concern about traumatic falls and the effect they might have on a developing pregnancy. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) does suggest that there are some activities, such as contact sports, sports with a high risk of falling, scuba diving, skydiving and hot yoga, that are safer to avoid in pregnancy. 


While it may be safer to let someone else enjoy the water skiing during your pregnancy, there is no better place to be than the Pacific Northwest in the summer. Enjoy being outside and take advantage of all that our corner of the world has to offer. 


Dennis Goulet, MD, MPH, is an Obstetrics & Gynecology physician with The Everett Clinic at Shoreline.  Dr. Goulet feels that every patient is unique and finds great joy in building relationships with patients and partnering with them to achieve wellness throughout their lifespan. He is currently accepting new patients to his practice.  Before starting an exercise program, please check with your healthcare provider.

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