Exercise While Pregnant

Hey,

In case you didn’t know, my wife Heather is pregnant. 30 weeks in. And I’m still freaking out, man.

babyshower

I’ve been doing some research into exercise while pregnant. I’ve done my best in talking to MDs, reseaching nerdy crap and talking to people with experience. But really, I just want to make sure it’s easier for you than it was for me in terms of being confident when you continue or start an exercise program. Below are general guidelines on exercise and things to look out for while you or your significant other has a bun in the oven:

Found a great meta-analysis of exercise and health while pregnant. A couple of things to highlight, which I’ll steal right from the article.
My narrative is in Bold.

The first box is a group of things that would have your MD saying ‘Don’t exercise’.

Box 1 Absolute contraindications to aerobic exercise during pregnancy (with permission from ACOG1)

  • Haemodynamically significant heart disease, Restrictive lung disease, Incompetent cervix/cerclage, Multiple gestation at risk for premature labour, Persistent second or third trimester bleeding, Placenta praevia after 26 weeks gestation, Premature labour during the current pregnancy, Ruptured membranes, Pregnancy induced hypertension

 
The Second box is a group of things that would have you MD saying, ‘Maybe you shouldn’t exercise’:

Box 2 Relative contraindications to aerobic exercise during pregnancy (with permission from ACOG1)

  • Severe anaemia, Unevaluated maternal cardiac arrhythmia, Chronic bronchitis, Poorly controlled type I diabetes, Extreme morbid obesity, Extreme underweight, body mass index <12), History of extremely sedentary lifestyle, Intrauterine growth restriction in current pregnancy, Poorly controlled hypertension/pre-eclampsia, Orthopaedic limitations, Poorly controlled seizure disorder, Poorly controlled thyroid disease, Heavy smoker

The third box is a group of things that would have your MD saying, ‘stop because you’re experiencing something messed up’,
 

Box 3 Warning signs to terminate exercise while pregnant

  • Vaginal bleeding, Dyspnoea before exertion, Dizziness, Headache, Chest pain, Muscle weakness, Calf pain or swelling (need to rule out thrombophlebitis), Preterm labour, Decreased fetal movement, Amniotic fluid leakage


 
To expand, I took away a few things: 
– Moderate intensity exercise during pregnancy hasn’t been shown to affect fetal heart rate in a negative way unless the mother had previously listed contraindications. 
 

– As long as nutrition is sufficient (not undereating, increased amount of carbohydrate and protein), exercise is beneficial in the same way as those who are not pregnant. Big stress on the article was making sure the mother was receiving adequate nutrition through exercise. Increased carbohydrate intake should be stressed as it takes more energy to grow a baby. Mothers will have a higher breakdown of sugar relative to non-preggo folk.

 
– There is a lack of quantitative research on high intensity exercise during pregnancy, due to this, the recommendation is to stay around moderate exercise levels. (rating of perceived exertion on a scale of 6-20 should be anywhere from 12-15).
– Heart rate monitoring is HIGHLY variable, so the researchers don’t set a specific heart rate for exercise while pregnant (I think it would still be good to put a ‘soft ceiling’ on heart rate around 150. If you go over, don’t freak out, just don’t spend the whole workout above that number).
 
– There have been studies on subjects who reach >80% of their max who were previously exercising and there were no negative effects.
 
– A second article I found, utilizing a study of >5,000 participants comes to the following conclusion: Research on baby weight and structured exercise : These data demonstrate that structured prenatal exercise reduces the risk of having a large newborn without a change in the risk of having a small newborn.
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