Keeping women healthy for generations to come

Keeping women healthy for generations
to come

EXERCISE GUIDELINES DURING PREGNANCY AND POSTPARTUM

Regular exercise (at least three times per week) is preferable to intermittent activity Competitive activities are discouraged. Lap swimming is encouraged.

Vigorous exercise should not be performed in hot, humid weather or when you have a temperature, Do not allow yourself to become overheated.

Ballistic movements (jerky, bouncy motions) should be avoided. Exercise should be done on a wooden floor or tightly carpeted surface to reduce shock and provide a sure footing.

Deep flexion or extension of joints should be avoided because of connective tissue laxity. Activities that require jumping, jarring motions or rapid changes in direction should be avoided because of joint instability.

Vigorous exercise should be preceded by a 5-minute period of muscle warm-up. This can be accomplished by slow walking or stationary cycling with low resistance. Strenuous exercise should be avoided. Do not exercise to the point of feeling light headed and profuse sweating.

Vigorous exercise should be followed by a period of gradually declining activity that includes gently stationary stretching. Because connective tissue laxity increases the risk of joint injury, stretching should not be taken to the point of maximum resistance. Some form of activity involving the legs such as walking should be continued for a brief period of “cool down” following exercise.

Care should be taken to gradually rise form the floor to prevent orthostatic hypotension (decreased blood pressure)

Heart rate should be measured at times of peak activity. Target heart rate and limits should be established in consultation with your physician or nurse practitioner. Maternal heart rate should not exceed 140 beats per minute. You should still be able to carry on a conversation while exercising. Do not exercise to the point of exhaustion.

Fluids should be taken liberally before, during, and after exercise to prevent dehydration. If necessary, activity should be interrupted to replenish fluids.

Women who have lead sedentary lifestyles should begin physical activity at low intensity and advance their activity levels very gradually.

No exercise should be performed in the supine position (lying flat on your back) after the fourth month of gestation is completed. Exercise that involves the Valsava maneuver (holding the breath and bearing down) should be avoided.

Maternal core temperature should not exceed 38°C. Dress in layers.

The safest and most comfortable exercises for expectant mothers are:

  • Walking–It’s easy and everyone can do it and it’s the perfect way to get started if you didn’t exercise before pregnancy
  • Low impact aerobic classes or pregnancy exercise videotapes done at home
  • Swimming: it uses many different muscle groups and puts less gravitational strain on the joints

Remember, the key to exercising during pregnancy is moderation.Don’t go for the burn and don’t exercise to exhaustion. A good rule of thumb is to slow down if you can’t comfortably carry on a conversation while moving.

Unless you have a medical condition which restricts exercise, mild to moderate exercise is very safe during pregnancy. It’s good for you as long as you don’t overdo it and heed your body’s warning signs such as:

  • Intense pain anywhere, but especially your back or pelvic region
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling faint
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Difficulty walking
  • Contractions
  • Marked decrease in movement of the baby

If you develop any of the above symptoms during or after exercising, stop immediately and call your doctor.

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