Exercise

INFORMATION FOR WOMEN WHO ARE THINKING OF EXERCISING, ARE EXERCISING, OR HAVE EXERCISED DURING PREGNANCY OR BREASTFEEDING

The information provided below is for readers based in the United States of America. Readers outside of the United States of America should seek the information from local sources.

What is exercise?

Exercise is activity that requires physical effort and that is performed usually for recreation or to improve fitness and health. Exercise has potential harms and benefits during pregnancy. In particular, it has been proposed that exercise may help to prevent certain pregnancy complications, such as peripartum depression, gestational diabetes, and a condition called preeclampsia. Research has not yet demonstrated the benefits of exercise consistently during pregnancy, but the case for a benefit is much stronger if the exercise is begun prior to pregnancy. In other words, being fit as part of an ongoing process that has already included exercise will help you when you do become pregnant.

Is there a safe amount of exercise that I can perform during pregnancy?

Yes. Studies have suggested that moderate exercise may decrease your risk of developing depression around the time of delivery (peripartum depression), with separate studies suggesting different amounts as being beneficial (1-2 times per week in one study or 4 times per week in another study). Regular exercise is also thought to help reduce the risk of gestational diabetes and to improve circulation to the developing baby, to improve your fitness for delivery, and to help regulate your blood pressure. Generally, pregnant women do not get enough exercise during pregnancy.

Can exercise make it harder for me to get pregnant?

In most cases, exercise improves your fitness and does not make it harder to get pregnant. In cases of extreme levels and amount of exercise, however, as occurs in high performance athletes or as a component of anorexia nervosa, the ovulation cycle can be suppressed, thereby reducing your fertility, making it harder to become pregnant.

Can exercise cause a miscarriage?

Despite a great deal of concern by pregnant women and by some health care provides that exercise might cause spontaneous abortion (miscarriage), no connection between exercise and miscarriage has been established.

Can exercise during my pregnancy cause a birth defect?

No. Exercise during your pregnancy cannot cause a birth defect.

Are there long-term consequences to my baby from my doing exercise while pregnant?

There are no long-term negative consequences. Although doctors are awaiting more consistent evidence from research, it is generally thought that pregnant women do not exercise enough and there is some evidence that moderate exercise during pregnancy can help keep you healthy and avoid pregnancy complications, thereby improving the chances that youll give birth to a healthy baby.

I just found out I am 6 weeks pregnant and last weekend I exercised. Will my baby have a problem?

No, your baby will not have a problem. Although more research is needed to be certain if this is true, moderate exercise is recommended during, and prior to, pregnancy based on growing evidence that exercise can help to prevent pregnancy complications. Most pregnant women do not meet the minimum exercise recommendations and therefore should exercise more.

Is heavy exercise on only some days of the week better than exercising every day but at lower amounts?

Excessive amounts of exercise may possibly be harmful, so actually it is better to exercise moderately and spread that out over multiple days. It need not be every day, but it should be a few days per week.

Is it ok to exercise after the first trimester?

Yes. You should perform moderate exercise throughout pregnancy. One good way to do this is by taking an exercise class that is designed specifically for pregnant women. Another good way is to talk a mild walk lasting 20-30 minutes several times a week.

Can I exercise while breastfeeding?

Yes, you can exercise while breastfeeding, although you must wait a certain amount of time after giving birth before you resume exercise, depending on your fitness level before and during pregnancy, and the method by which you gave birth. After giving birth vaginally, many women can begin regular exercise within a few weeks; those who exercised regularly while pregnant can begin sooner while others require more time. After cesarean section, generally it is recommended that you wait six weeks, and as with vaginal delivery, mothers who are in better physical shape, having exercised throughout pregnancy, will be able to resume exercise sooner than others.

What if the father exercises prior to conception?

There are no implications for your pregnancy, or for the baby, if the father exercises prior to conception. Exercise is good for his health, his libido, and his fertility.

Resources for exercise in pregnancy:

For more information about exercise during pregnancy, contact http://www.womenshealth.gov/ (800-994-9662 [TDD: 888-220-5446]) or read the following articles:

 

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General information

It is very common for women to worry about having a miscarriage or giving birth to a child with a birth defect while they are pregnant. Many decisions that women make about their health during pregnancy are made with these concerns in mind.

For many women these concerns are very real. As many as 1 in 5 pregnancies end in a miscarriage, and 1 in 33 babies are born with a birth defect. These rates are considered the background population risk, which means they do not take into consideration anything about the health of the mom, the medications she is taking, or the family history of the mom or the baby’s dad. A number of different things can increase these risks, including taking certain medications during pregnancy.

It is known that most medications, including over-the-counter medications, taken during pregnancy do get passed on to the baby. Fortunately, most medicines are not harmful to the baby and can be safely taken during pregnancy. But there are some that are known to be harmful to a baby’s normal development and growth, especially when they are taken during certain times of the pregnancy. Because of this, it is important to talk with your doctor or midwife about any medications you are taking, ideally before you even try to get pregnant.

If a doctor other than the one caring for your pregnancy recommends that you start a new medicine while you are pregnant, it is important that you let them know you are pregnant.

If you do need to take a new medication while pregnant, it is important to discuss the possible risks the medicine may pose on your pregnancy with your doctor or midwife. They can help you understand the benefits and the risks of taking the medicine.

Ultimately, the decision to start, stop, or change medications during pregnancy is up to you to make, along with input from your doctor or midwife. If you do take medications during pregnancy, be sure to keep track of all the medications you are taking.


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