Q: I want to be active during my pregnancy but I don’t want to endanger my baby. Is it safe to exercise during pregnancy?
A: It’s a myth that strenuous exercise during pregnancy can harm the developing baby. For women with uncomplicated pregnancies, regular physical activity during pregnancy improves or maintains your physical fitness, helps you manage your weight, reduces the risk of gestational diabetes and enhances your sense of well-being.
Being inactive and gaining too much weight during pregnancy can cause serious problems, such as obesity and pregnancy-related complications like gestational diabetes.
If you’re having a healthy, uncomplicated pregnancy, you should aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. If you were performing high-intensity exercise before you got pregnant, you may continue doing it during and after pregnancy.
During the second half of pregnancy, you should avoid exercises that require you to lie flat on your back. This can decrease blood flow to your heart and cause low blood pressure.
Your obstetrician can guide you in ways to stay physically fit during your pregnancy.
Q: How much weight should I gain during my pregnancy?
A: It depends on your weight before you got pregnant. The amount of weight gained during pregnancy can affect the health of you and your baby both now and in the future.
If you were underweight, the National Academy of Medicine recommends gaining 28 to 40 pounds. This reduces the risk of preterm birth, which is higher for women who were underweight prior to pregnancy.
If your weight was in the normal range before pregnancy, you should gain 25 to 35 pounds. Overweight women should aim for a 15- to 25-pound weight gain. If you were obese before pregnancy, you should gain no more than 11 to 20 pounds.
Regardless of your pre-pregnancy weight, your weight gain during pregnancy should be monitored closely. If you do not gain enough weight, your baby might be small or premature. Gaining too much weight can result in a baby who is very large and might require a cesarean delivery.
At your first pregnancy visit with your obstetrician, ask her how much weight you should gain for a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.
Joanne Price Williamson, M.D., is an ob-gyn in practice at Memorial Health University Physicians’ Provident OB/GYN Associates at Legacy Center, in Okatie.