Pregnant Women - Not Getting Enough Exercise - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

Pregnant Women - Not Getting Enough Exercise

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WMDT 47 NEWS - Labor is called labor for a reason. Giving birth to a baby is serious work. And staying fit prior to the big day can make all the difference leading up to, and during, delivery.

But even knowing this a good number of pregnant women still don't work out. "It doesn't surprise me at all," admits John McCloskey, a personal trainer at World Gym in Salisbury, who helps teach prenatal exercise to pregnant women.

He's referring to numbers from a recent study which shows 3 out of 4 pregnant women in the U.S. do not get enough exercise. "They're not sure if they should be exercising," McCloskey tells WMDT, recalling what some of his clients have told him. "They hear a lot of horror stories where there could be complications because of exercise."

But that is not the case for most women, explains Michell Jordan, midwife and professor of Maternal Child Nursing at Salisbury University, "We always recommend regular exercise during pregnancy." Jordan says the recommendation for women with uncomplicated pregnancies is at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily, up to 5 days a week. "It helps keep them in shape. It keeps their heart in shape cardiovascularly. It helps prepare their muscles and keep them ready for the big event. I always tell people you wouldn't go out and run a marathon without practice ahead of time. So they need to keep their bodies ready for the marathon of labor."

On the flip-side of this issue, are people like the woman called the "CrossFit Mom". She recently caused a stir online by posting pictures of herself lifting heavy weights during the last few weeks of her pregnancy. Despite negative backlash, she gave birth to a healthy baby boy in November.

"She was used to that type of exercise," Jordan says of the CrossFit Mom. "She had been doing it for several years before she became pregnant, so there are aspects of it she can continue."

Experts recommend the average woman lift no more than 20 pounds during pregnancy, and anyone who decides to do more than that is essentially taking the risk upon themselves.

Even if you are physically fit and have been exercising regularly for years, it's still recommended that you meet with your doctor to determine if there are other risk factors that might make exercise dangerous for your pregnancy.

If your doctor gives you the green light to get moving, you'll be happy to know recent studies show regular exercise likely reduces the risk of pregnancy complications, such as preclampsia and gestational diabetes. The American Diabetes Association says gestational diabetes affects about 18 percent of pregnancies. Exercise through pregnancy is also believed to shorten the duration of active labor.

Here's what is considered acceptably safe exercise in uncomplicated pregnancies, by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: brisk walking, swimming, cycling, and aerobic classes.

The ACOG says these should also be fine for women who have not exercised regularly before becoming pregnant, but recommends that women who have not exercised regularly before becoming pregnant start slowly and build up to the recommended 30-minute a day minimum.

Running, racquet sports, and strength training are also okay, in moderation, for women who have regularly engaged in these activities before pregnancy.

The ACOG advises against activities like downhill skiing, contact sports, and scuba diving.

Other recommendations include: Avoid exercises that require you to lie on your back (after the first trimester). Avoid exercise in hot and humid weather or when you have a fever. Wear comfortable clothing and a bra that fits well and gives lots of support. Drink plenty of water during exercise to avoid dehydration. Stop exercising if you experience vaginal bleeding, dizziness, chest pain, headache, decreased fetal movement, or fluid leaking from the vagina.

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