Exercise During Pregnancy

Guidelines have changed for exercise during pregnancy

Trillia Newbell features@knoxnews.com

Friday, July 8, 2011

Exercise during pregnancy is not only beneficial but recommended by scientific boards and governing organizations such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. But it hasn’t always been.

Only in the last 10 years has exercise during pregnancy been given a full stamp of approval. Research of pregnancy and exercise has increased as women have become more health-conscious and as the fitness industry has expanded, providing more opportunities for individuals to exercise. Pregnant women have taken the opportunities available to stay fit.

In 1985, ACOG printed a pamphlet addressing the concerns of exercise during pregnancy. It was the first time exercise and pregnancy had been officially addressed by the governing board. The reason for its new interest? More women were coming to physicians asking for recommendations.

An excerpt of the 1985 document, which is out of print, warned of the increase of competition between women and the need for clear guidelines on exercise and pregnancy: “The societal pressures to exercise today and the competitive spirit that challenges some women to place performance goals over safety indicate the need for a scientific approach to recommendations to exercise.”

At the time exercise that would be considered strenuous was recommended to be limited to only 15 minutes.

Times have changed, and so have the recommendations. The current ACOG pamphlet’s lead paragraph no longer warns of the potential dangers for exercising during pregnancy; rather, it commences with the benefits of exercise during pregnancy.

The new recommendation for duration is 30 minutes or more a day of moderate exercise during pregnancy.

Though exercise is encouraged and supported by physicians, pregnant exercisers should follow certain protocols and precautions. The most up-to-date information from ACOG is its June 2003 “Exercise During Pregnancy,” which was reaffirmed in 2009.

ACOG currently recommends pregnant exercisers should:

* After the first trimester of pregnancy, avoid doing any exercises on your back.

* Avoid brisk exercise in hot, humid weather or when you have a fever.

* Wear comfortable clothing that will help you to remain cool.

* Wear a bra that fits well and gives lots of support to help protect your breasts.

* Drink plenty of water to help keep you from overheating and dehydrating.

* Make sure you consume the daily extra calories you need during pregnancy.

Stop exercising and call your doctor if you get any of these symptoms:

* Vaginal bleeding

* Dizziness or feeling faint

* Increased shortness of breath

* Chest pain

* Headache

* Muscle weakness

* Calf pain or swelling

* Uterine contractions

* Decreased fetal movement

* Fluid leaking from the vagina

Trillia Newbell is a freelance contributor to the News Sentinel.