Although most workout routines are still safe to do while you’re waiting for your baby to arrive, there are a few exercises to avoid during pregnancy. Find out what they are and why they’re no-nos!
Exercising while you’re expecting has so many fabulous benefits when done right. Regular physical activity can help relieve pregnancy woes like back pain and excess weight gain. It also helps get your body and mind in great shape for delivery day! When done wrong, though, it can be incredibly dangerous and put both you and your baby at risk for severe injury. So which exercises are “right” and which are “wrong”? Let’s find out!
7 Exercises to Avoid During Pregnancy
Let me start by saying that none of this is meant to be taken as medical advice. Before you start any new exercise regimen during pregnancy you should talk to your doctor. Got that? Okay, on to the exercises to avoid during pregnancy. Some of these are specific exercises, while others are more like guidelines.
1) Heavy Weight Training Exercises
If you’ve never lifted weights, pregnancy is definitely not the time to start. If, however, you’ve been weight training for a while, you may be able to continue. Light and moderate weight training isn’t typically dangerous during pregnancy. However, you will need to avoid heavy weights.
Not only are you at a greater risk for accidents during pregnancy, but lifting heavy weights diverts much-needed oxygen from your internal organs to your muscles. The general rule of thumb is up to 30 pounds, or 15 in each hand if doing free weights. Again, talk to your doctor first to make sure that rule applies to you.
2) Certain yoga positions
Even if you’ve been practicing yoga your whole life, you’ll need to avoid certain poses during pregnancy. Examples include exercises that have you sharply or severely twisting your body, extended back bends, and headstands or other inversion poses. Consider taking a prenatal yoga class with a qualified instructor for maximum safety. You can also buy fantastic prenatal yoga DVDs or books.
3) High impact & contact sports
While you can probably keep your pitching position on your softball team, sports like football and hockey are pretty much out. Basically, if the sport involves people slamming into each other, you should avoid it during pregnancy. Your doctor will likely also recommend high-impact sports that involve heavy running or lunging. Competitive tennis, for example, will likely be off the table, especially if you’re an aggressive player.
4) Any exercises that involve laying on your stomach or back
Avoiding exercises that have you laying on your stomach makes sense, but what about your back? During the first trimester, you should be okay (again, ask your doctor). However, as your belly starts to expand, back exercises put more strain on your lungs and reduce blood flow to your baby.
5) Scuba Diving
Planning one last great beach vacation before your baby comes? Skip the deep-sea diving! It puts a lot of pressure on your growing baby and can actually cause birth defects, among other issues. Stick to snorkeling in shallow water if you want to see fish up close. Better yet, just enjoy your time lounging on the beach! With sunscreen and plenty of water to stay hydrated, of course. Honestly, I almost didn’t include this because I thought “how many pregnant women are going to slap on a wet suit and dive into the ocean.” Apparently enough to make studying the effects of scuba diving on unborn babies worthwhile!
6) Exercises with a high fall risk
Basically, you want to avoid any exercises that increase your risk of falling. Remember, your center of gravity has shifted and even exercises that you have mastered can become dangerous. These include things like gymnastics, horseback riding, skiing and snowboarding, and so on. If you’re a professional at any of these things, you may be able to do modified versions. Talk to your doctor to find out.
7) Exercising in extreme heat
Every exercise has the potential to become dangerous if you’re doing it in extreme heat or humidity. During the blazing hot summer months, stick to things like swimming, water sports, and yoga classes in air conditioned facilities. If you love running or just can’t do without your daily walk, do it early in the morning or in the evening, when the sun isn’t quite so hot.
8) Anything in excess
Even the best exercises for pregnancy can become dangerous when you over-do it. Running while pregnant, for example, is usually okay IF you were a runner before pregnancy. However, running too much during pregnancy can be dangerous even if you were previously a marathon runner!
9) Any exercise that leaves you breathless
If you find yourself holding your breath during a certain exercise, ditch it. Even yoga, which encourages deep breathing, leaves me actually forgetting to breathe at times! I find myself focusing on the movements instead of my breath. Your baby needs a steady supply of oxygen!
10) Anything new!
A good rule of thumb to stay safe while exercising during pregnancy: avoid starting new workout regimens. While you can continue to do many of the same sports and exercises that you did before pregnancy, if you’ve never gone running, now is not the time to start. There are a few exceptions, of course. If your doc gives the okay, you could start a light walking routine or prenatal yoga class. Just don’t embark on any strenuous new exercise journeys!
Remember, these exercises to avoid during pregnancy are just general guidelines. Every pregnancy is different and your doctor or midwife will better be able to guide you in what you can do and what you need to skip. No matter which exercise you choose, it’s important to stay hydrated and avoid over-heating. It’s also important to listen to your own body and mind. For example, if you feel winded doing exercises that are typically safe, stop and choose something else.