Keeping up or starting a fitness regimen during pregnancy has many benefits for moms-to-be.
Regular exercise – 30 minutes or more most days – can help reduce back pain, ease constipation, promote healthy weight gain and strengthen your heart and blood vessels. It also may decrease the risk of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia and delivery by caesarian section, as well as help you lose the baby weight more quickly after delivery, according to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).
Aquatic exercise has even more potential perks.
The water helps support the belly and relieves pressure from the spine and pelvis while swimming, doing gentle pool aerobics or water walking.
Water workouts also use many of your body’s muscles and contribute to fewer exercise-related injuries and muscle strains than other, dry-land aerobic activities. And, pools are often a cool place to exercise, especially during the summer months.
Despite the many benefits, there are precautions you should take when working out it the water during pregnancy.
Even though you might not feel like you are sweating while exercising in the pool, you are. Be sure to hydrate by drinking plenty of water during your workout and throughout the day. You should stop exercising if you feel dizziness, clamminess or other signs of overheating, according to the ACOG.
Not all water exercises are safe for you or your baby, either.
During pregnancy, avoid scuba diving, water skiing, or activities that involve rapid, uncontrolled bouncing or swinging. You also should avoid high water temperatures in pools and spas. Anything that raises your core body temperature above 102 degrees Fahrenheit is potentially hazardous to your baby.
How to Get Started
Healthy women with normal pregnancies are generally safe to continue or start most types of exercise.
If you were very active before pregnancy, you can often keep doing the same workouts with few modifications. And, if you’re new to exercise, you can start a routine and slowly and gradually increase your activity until you can comfortably workout for 30 minutes.
Talk with your obstetrician or another member of your care team about exercise – either in the water or out – during one of your early prenatal visits. If he or she gives the OK, then you can formulate a plan together that best fits your needs and is safe during pregnancy.