If you’ve always imagined pregnancy to be a nine-month-long nap, it might be time to rethink your prenatal plans. Experts agree that it’s important to keep moving when you’re expecting. That’s because pregnant women who work out typically have less back pain, more energy, a better body image and an easier postpartum recovery.
Follow these do’s and don’ts for exercising while pregnant.
Do: Talk to Your Doctor First
Every woman and every pregnancy is different, so be sure to get the thumbs-up from your OB before hitting the gym. Even if you’ve always exercised regularly, you might need to make some modifications or avoid certain activities that could put your baby at risk. And if you’ve never worked out, map out a beginner’s plan with your doctor’s guidance to ensure you don’t overdo it.
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Do: Get Enough Calories
It can be a big adjustment for many women, but the goal of working out while pregnant is not to lose weight. Depending on the type of exercise you do, you’ll want to be sure you’re eating enough to make up for the calorie burn.
Don’t: Start Training for a Marathon
If you’re a seasoned runner, long races are usually safe. But if you’ve never run before, this is not the time to sign up for a marathon. You should also avoid contact sports like basketball and soccer, as well as activities that could throw off your balance and cause a fall. That means skiing, surfing and mountain biking are out. Walking, swimming, yoga and indoor cycling are safe options for pregnant women.
Do: Stay Hydrated
While there’s no official recommendation for how much water you should drink while pregnant, dehydration can lead to blood loss for the placenta, so always have water at hand, especially when working out. How do you know if you’re drinking enough? Check the color of your urine — dark yellow is a sign of dehydration.
Don’t: Overdo It
If your workout mantra has always been “no pain, no gain,” you may need to slow things down. Try not to exercise to the point of exhaustion and always listen to your body — if something hurts, stop.
Do: Something You Love!
You’re more likely to stick to an exercise regimen if you actually enjoy it. And it won’t be long before finding the time to work out will be difficult (hello, new baby!), so take advantage of the solo time while you can.