Once upon a time, pregnant moms were told to keep off their feet and avoid exercise, but today’s experts say quite the contrary. “Exercise is great. I recommend it,” says Barbara Dehn, a nurse practitioner in the San Francisco Bay Area with more than 20 years experience.
Walking is a good mom-to-be workout, but marathon runners and other fitness fans need not downsize to strolling, Dehn says. Here are a few pregnancy exercise guidelines to keep in mind:
- You sweat more during pregnancy, so drink plenty of fluids.
- After your fifth month, avoid exercising on your back, as this decreases blood flow to you and your baby.
- If you find yourself out of breath, decrease the intensity.
- Avoid any exercise that could cause you to fall: horseback riding, downhill skiing, rock climbing, and so on.
- Work longer, not harder. “You want to build up your stamina for labor,” Dehn says. Walking for 40 minutes at a moderate pace is better than 10 minutes of fast walking.
- If you haven’t been exercising, “it’s a great time to start,” Dehn says. Begin slowly, with 10-minute walks 5 times per week and gradually increase the duration of your walks. If you need motivation, go with your partner—it’s a nice way to connect. Swimming and prenatal yoga are great options, too.