If you believe that can benefit greatly from exercising throughout you are pregnancy – you are right, however, there are some exercises you should avoid while pregnant.
The workout that will best fit your needs and the difficulty of exercises will largely depend on three main factors: your health, your pre-pregnancy fitness level and how far you are in your pregnancy.
For example, if before pregnancy your typical workout routine included a few head rolls and light stretches while sitting in your office chair, then running a marathon during pregnancy might not be a good idea.
However, if you led a very active lifestyle all of your life, your doctor or health care professional may allow you to continue with your workout, while suggesting you to make a few common-sense adjustments and excluding a number of high-risk exercises that can potentially harm you or your baby.
Some of those exercises to avoid while pregnant include:
- Working out in hot, humid weather.
- Holding your breath during any activity.
- Extensive jumping, hopping, bouncing or skipping.
- Rapid changes of direction and high probability of falling.
- Rapid blood pressure changes that are experienced when doing scuba diving.
- 1 Exercises to Avoid while Pregnant: First Trimester
- 2 Exercises to Avoid while Pregnant: Second Trimester
- 3 Exercises to Avoid while Pregnant: Third Trimester
Exercises to Avoid while Pregnant: First Trimester
During the first three months of your pregnancy (if your health condition allow it) you can still be as active as you like, given that you will follow certain safety precautions and do not push yourself too hard during your workouts.
But there are still a few exercises women should avoid from the day one of their pregnancy:
Active sports that require quite a bit of balance
exercises to avoid while pregnantThe common symptoms women experience during the first trimester include fatigue, tiredness, lack of concentration and sometimes morning sickness. If you throw in slight changes that happen in your center of gravity into the mix of the pregnancy changes, you will understand why sports as downhill skiing, mountain climbing, horseback riding, tennis and gymnastics are not your optimal choice of leisure activities (to say the least). You should absolutely avoid these exercises while pregnant.
Another type of activities that you want to avoid on throughout your pregnancy are contact sports as soccer, karate, kickboxing and pretty much any sport that has to do something with the “ball” (i.e – basketball, volleyball, football, softball or baseball). They carry a high risk of abdominal trauma and involve abrupt side-to-side movements that put a lot of stress on the fetus.
Overheating and dehydration are one of the biggest concerns during the first months of pregnancy, because during this time the fetus is more susceptible to the temperature changes of mother’s body. When your body temperature rises the blood flow is diverted from the uterus (and consequently from the baby) to cool you down. To prevent this from happening and lowering the risk of birth defects avoid situations in which your body can become overheated (as workouts on the hot summer days, or relaxation sessions in hot tub, sauna or hot bubble bath).
Exercises to Avoid while Pregnant: Second Trimester
As the baby grows bigger and the physical pregnancy changes become more pronounced in your body, the list of potentially harmful exercises gets longer. Amongst the exercises to watch out for are:
Supine (back lying) exercises
Any pilates, yoga, aerobics or weight lifting exercises that require you to lie on your back should be avoided after the first trimester. They can cause some circulatory problems with blood returning from the uterus back to your heart. In most cases this position is uncomfortable anyway, so excluding it from your workout routine should not be a problem.
Exercises that require an extended period of motionless standing
Certain standing yoga asanas and some of tai chi exercises, while promote relaxation or the body and clarity of the mind, also cause the heart rate to drop and reduce the amount of blood flow to the uterus. Therefore, they should be avoided by women in their second trimester.
You may want to consult with your doctor, but generally, it is suggested to avoid this type of weight training after the first trimester. Just as back exercises, it decreases the amount of blood flow to the kidneys and uterus and reduces the amount of oxygen that your baby receives. Besides, it puts unneeded pressure on the spine and makes you hold your breath, which often leads to lightheadedness and dizziness.
Exercises to Avoid while Pregnant: Third Trimester
During the last three months of your pregnancy, you may no longer feel like taking long walks or working out and it is okay. However, according to James F. Clapp III M.D., author of Exercising During Pregnancy, women that stop exercising in their mid-late pregnancy may start to experience the usual pregnancy related symptoms that exercise helps relieve (back ache, fatigue, etc) and don’t return to pre-pregnancy weight as fast.
If you feel that you can do some light form of exercise, here are some suggestions that you want to add to your list of “Exercises to avoid while pregnant”:
Poses and exercises that require you to twist your spine too much are potentially dangerous, as they may placental abruption and lower back strain.
Throughout during pregnancy and especially during the last trimester of the pregnancy the body produces a hormone called relaxin. Just as the name suggests, relaxin helps our whole body become a bit looser. For example, one of its effects is the relaxation of arteries, which allows the body to accommodate a much bigger blood volume, without drastically increasing the blood pressure. The joints also become more vulnerable at this stage and with the belly shifting the balance center of the body, the possibility to get hurt during your usual strength training routine is greatly increased. For example, deep knee bends is an absolute no-no during this time, just as is bending past ninety degrees while holding heavy weight.
If you feel that you still want to continue working out, chose lighter weights (15 lbs or less), while slightly increasing the number of reps (no more than 15 reps). Also try doing your strength training routine in the sitting position to prevent yourself from losing balance.
Extreme stretching and bouncy movements
Besides the already mentioned effects of relaxin on your body, it also contributes to flexibility of the body. This is a great help when preparing your musculoskeletal system for carrying and delivering a baby. Although, greater flexibility also makes your body more susceptible to overstretching and may leave you feeling unpleasant pain sensations long after your workout is over.
Note: As it has been mentioned in the beginning of this article your workout routine may vary greatly and depend on many factors. That is why it is always a good idea to consult your doctor or health care professional about any particular exercises that YOU need to avoid while pregnant.