Traditionally, pregnant women were asked to refrain from exercising when pregnant for fear of the unknown. However, today doctors advise women to exercise before, during, and after their pregnancy. So how do you proceed after getting the green light from your doctor? Here is a guide explaining every aspect of an early pregnancy workout.
Is It Ok To Exercise In Early Pregnancy?
Experts have found no reason to discourage women from exercising early on in their pregnancy. Pregnant women should exercise in early pregnancy and throughout as it is good for them and their unborn baby. That said, there are some critical points they ask pregnant women to take note of, and they include:
Some women assume that they have nothing to worry about just because they are not yet showing and can exercise as they wish. That is not the case. Everything changes when your pregnancy test reads positive. You now have to start thinking of the safety of two people. Talk to a doctor to determine the most suitable exercise program.
You may have an underlying condition that may not permit you to exercise. In most cases, women are discouraged against aerobic exercise if they have the following conditions (4):
- Restrictive lung disease
- Hemodynamically significant cardiovascular disease
- Ruptured membrane
- Severe anemia
- An incompetent cervix
- Severe obesity
- Poorly controlled hypertension, seizure disorder, type 1 diabetes, and hyperthyroidism
Your doctor will give you a way forward or recommend a fitting exercise program based on your medical history.
The Type Of Exercise
By now, you know that not every other exercise is good to perform when pregnant. Doctors recommend light or moderate exercises that have less injury risk and do not take a toll on you physically and emotionally. This means activities like brisk walking, dancing, swimming, light yoga, Pilates, indoor stationary biking, and low-impact aerobics can do the trick (4).
Is an abdominal workout ok in early pregnancy? WebMD does not think so. According to WebMD, any exercise prone to cause mild abdominal trauma is not okay (4). Other activities that are unsafe in early pregnancy include (4).
- Activities that require you to hold your breath
- Activities with a high risk of falling
- Activities that involve a lot of contact like basketball
- Exercise with extensive jumping, bouncing, hopping, and skipping
Read More: Pregnancy Cardio Workout: Everything You Need To Know To Do It Safely
Can Exercise In Early Pregnancy Cause A Miscarriage?
Unfortunately, many women who test positive for pregnancy keep away from exercise during early pregnancy for fear of miscarriage. The belief is that exercising in early pregnancy may cause miscarriage.
However, experts rule out this theory as a myth. They acknowledge that most miscarriages occur when the unborn child has fatal genetic problems (2). Other common causes of miscarriage include (2):
- An infection
- Underlying conditions in the mother, such as diabetes and thyroid disease
- Hormonal problems
- Physical issues in the mother
- Uterine abnormalities
- Immune system responses
- Mother’s unpleasant behaviors like smoking and drinking alcohol
- Exposure to toxic or radioactive substances
Notice that we did not mention exercise as it is not a risk factor. Similarly, some women are more susceptible to suffering a miscarriage than others. Those with a higher risk include (2):
- Women who have suffered three or more miscarriages before
- Women aged 35 and above
- Those with conditions like thyroid problems and diabetes
Doctors suggest you always check in with them when you first learn that you are pregnant. They are there to guide you on how to proceed to avoid such an experience if you have the listed risk factors. (2):
- Bleeding that shifts from light to heavy
- Intense cramps
- Abdominal pain
- Fever accompanied by any of these symptoms
- White-pink mucus
- Severe back pain that gets worse with time
- Fewer pregnancy signs
- Discharge of tissue that looks like blood clots from your vagina
- Weight loss
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How To Design A Workout Plan For Early Pregnancy
Designing an early pregnancy workout plan can be tedious, especially if you have to deal with terrible morning sickness on top of this stress. This is where fitness coaches come in handy. However, if you want to or are capable of crafting the plan yourself, here are some essential tips to remember:
Include Light Exercises Only
Can you work out the same during early pregnancy? Yes and no. If before you were doing light or moderate exercises, then you can continue with the exercise program. However, have it reviewed by your instructor as some exercises may not be suitable.
If you were doing heavy weight lifting exercises or other vigorous activities, you cannot continue with such a routine. You might be required to tone it down for your safety and that of your little one.
Stick To A 30-Minute Window
Some women worry about adding excessive weight during their pregnancy. Instead they choose to exercise for longer durations in the hopes that they will burn more calories. Experts note that this is dangerous and advise you to stick to doing 30 minutes of moderate exercise for most or all days of the week (1).
Read More: Pelvic Floor Exercises For Pregnancy: 6 Safe Exercises To Get Rid Of Aches
Experts cannot emphasize enough the importance of hydration when exercising, especially when pregnant. Therefore, they advise you to drink water before, during, and after exercising. Similarly, they also recommend exercising away from hot weather or in a hot, humid environment, increasing the risk of hypoglycemia (3).
Listen To Your Body
An excellent early pregnancy workout plan also advises women to listen to their bodies. You do not have to exercise for thirty minutes if you are struggling or extremely tired. Never work out to the point of exhaustion, whereby you are struggling to talk and breathe. Similarly, stop exercising when you spot various warning signs. Some of these include (4):
- Intense chest pain
- Pelvic and abdominal pain or persistent contractions
- Vaginal bleeding
- A rapid or irregular heartbeat
- Sudden swelling in the hands, face, or ankles
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty walking
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
The Bottom Line
There are many myths and misconceptions about adopting an early pregnancy workout. Some believe it can cause a miscarriage, while others think it is dangerous and unsafe for the baby. However, there is no evidence to support either of the two theories. Instead, experts advise pregnant women to exercise in their pregnancy as it is good for them and their unborn child. However, they must first consult with their doctors and create a customized exercise program that accounts for their medical history, fitness level, and needs.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on for decision-making. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Exercise in Pregnancy (2015, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Miscarriage (2020, webmd.com)
- Pregnancy And Exercise (2021, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Pregnancy: Exercise During Pregnancy (2021, webmd.com)