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Working Out For Two: When You Might Be Discouraged From Exercising During Pregnancy

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Most pregnant women hear a series of recommendations from their obstetricians or midwives, including keeping up with routine exercise regimens. Although regular exercise is typically a good thing for pregnant women, there are some instances where you might be told that taking it easy is safer. Here's a look at some of the most common reasons to be cautious about your exercise plan during pregnancy.

Preterm Labor Symptoms or History

If you are experiencing the signs of labor and you're not yet 37 weeks along, you may be told to spend a few weeks resting more and to skip the exercise plans. You may be given the same suggestion if you've had a history of preterm labor either with this pregnancy or a previous one. In some cases, you can return to your exercise regimen after a few weeks, but in other cases, you'll have to take it easy until you deliver. Your doctor or midwife will be able to tell you what's best in your situation.

Warning Signs of Miscarriage

If you've ever had a miscarriage, you may be concerned about exercise causing another one. Although this isn't necessarily the case, you should certainly talk with your care provider if you're seeing the warning signs of a miscarriage, like spot bleeding or abdominal pain. Sometimes, if you've had a miscarriage in the past, you might find that you worry less if you skip the exercise routines until the end of the first trimester, when you're out of the highest risk period for miscarriages.

Having Multiples

If you're carrying more than one baby, that can increase your risk of many pregnancy complications, including the potential for preterm labor. Your doctor may provide you with some recommendations about your level of exercise and whether or not you need to be concerned with bed rest. If you're stuck on bed rest for a few weeks or more, ask your care provider about the safety of a bed rest workout to help maintain your muscle tone.

High-Risk Placental Conditions

If you've been diagnosed with placenta previa or a similar issue, you may be asked to decrease your activity level in general and avoid any significant exercise. The risk of bleeding or premature contractions outweighs the benefit of the exercise plan in those cases. Your midwife or obstetrician can help you understand what activities are safe and which ones to avoid. You'll also want to ask if this is a temporary restriction, or if it will remain in place until delivery.

Weight and Blood Pressure Concerns

Many care providers will advise against excessive exercise plans for pregnant women with high blood pressure or women who are over or underweight. You'll want to work closely with your midwife or obstetrician to develop a safe workout plan in either of these cases.

Exercise can increase your blood pressure while you're working out, so it's important to be attentive to this. You'll also want to consider some adaptations to protect your weight and the baby if you are under or overweight. The goal is to ensure your health and well-being while helping you maintain or improve your weight.

If you have been advised to limit or avoid exercise during your pregnancy, your care provider should give you specific reasons for it. Make sure that you ask if you are uncertain, and ensure that the instructions are clear. You should know what types of exercise are discouraged and for how long. You may even want to ask if there are any exercise plans you can replace the problem activities with. For example, things like swimming and walking are low-impact and don't strain your body too much.

As with any other health concerns during pregnancy, make sure you talk with your care team to ensure a safe and healthy delivery. For more information and tips on your pregnancy, visit