How to exercise safely during pregnancy

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Regular physical activity during pregnancy comes with all sorts of benefits. It helps provide mood-boosting endorphins and keeps those flagging energy levels up. It can reduce stress and provide a healthy outlet for some of the natural frustrations. And it can help keep the body strong and toned even as its shape changes. Here are some tips for how to make sure you do it safely.

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Always remember to stay hydrated. This is always important, but even more so while pregnant. Drink more fluids than you think you need.

Never let your body temperature get too high. A sustained raised body temperature can potentially be dangerous for the fetus. Just as you should steer clear of the Jacuzzi for nine months, you should avoid any exercises (think bikram yoga) that raise your core temperature.

Wear comfortable, breathable workout clothing. Again, this also goes for exercising when not pregnant. However, when you’re expecting it’s especially important to dress appropriately so that your body can properly cool down. That means breathable, lightweight fabrics, preferably ones that aren’t too tight. Ideally wear two layers so that you can remove one if you start feeling too warm.

Pay attention to what your baby is doing. Has your baby been kicking less than usual? Are they unusually still while you’re exercising? Pay attention to the signs and if they seem uncommonly sluggish, see a doctor.

Do it regularly. Most of us have a tendency to ignore the gym for long stretches, then work out extra hard to make up for it. The problem with this strategy is that it puts a lot of strain on the body. Shocking your muscles and cardiovascular system with sporadic burst of activity followed by bouts of lethargy is both ineffective and potentially harmful. Make a realistic, moderate workout schedule for at least a few times a week and stick to it.

Avoid lying flat on your back after the first trimester. As your uterus grows heavier, you may want to avoid this position while cooling down after a workout. This is because your baby can press down on crucial veins that carry blood from your lower body up to your heart.

Looking for a doctor for your OB/GYN, WOMEN – GYNECOLOGY questions? We recommend:
Makawan Tananunkul, M.D. Makawan Tananunkul, M.D.
Pulmonary Critical Care, Samitivej Srinakarin
Questions about your pregnancy, child birth or life with an infant? Ask the Doctor!

Don’t forget to eat a little extra. While you may not exactly be “eating for two,” you should be getting an extra 300 calories a day to gain the appropriate amount of weight and keep the fetus nourished. That means if you burn 400 calories on the elliptical, you need to eat even more. Remember: this is not the time to diet. Exercise is a great way to stay fit and boost endorphins, but you aren’t aiming to lose weight.

Don’t go overboard. You know the phrase “no pain, no gain?” Forget about it. The whole masochistic, CrossFit mindset definitely has no place in an expecting mother’s life. If something hurts or feels uncomfortable, just stop. No one is going to judge you and, no, you’re not being a wimp. Talk to your doctor about what’s appropriate and safe.

Photo Credit: photosavvy via Compfight cc

Expecting Expats is the online resource for parents in and around Thailand.

We provide lifestyle and medical content to our visitors, with new content posted daily. Our lifestyle contributors are themselves expat moms who share their experiences and lessons learned through blog articles. We also provide medical content from our partner doctors at Samitivej Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand. Articles of interest span from before pregnancy through the toddler years and cover medical, behavioral and cognitive issues.

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