Considerations for Starting a Prenatal Fitness Routine

pregnancy exercise ball

The benefits of an exercise routine during pregnancy have been well documented. Prenatal exercise promotes overall health and wellness, reduces pregnancy aches and pains.  It may also protect against preeclampsia, gestational diabetes and lower your risk of c-section.

However, there are times when exercise during pregnancy is contraindicated and should be avoided. It’s crucial that you check with your obstetrician for the green light before beginning or continuing any exercise routine during pregnancy.

Conditions That Make Exercise Unsafe During Pregnancy

  • Certain heart and lung diseases

  • Incompetent cervix or cervical cerclage

  • Pregnant with multiples where there is also a risk of preterm labor

  • Preterm rupture of membranes (when your water breaks early)

  • Preeclampsia

  • Severe anemia

Contrary to prior beliefs, exercise during pregnancy does not cause miscarriage, preterm labor or low birth weight. You can continue to do most types of sports and exercise during pregnancy. However, there is a short list of activities to avoid.

Unsafe Physical Activities During Pregnancy

  • Activities in which there is a risk of major trauma: skydiving, snow skiing, water skiing, off-road cycling, horseback riding, gymnastics

  • Contact sports which could result in blows to the abdomen: hockey, boxing, soccer and basketball

  • Scuba diving

  • Activities at 6000ft of elevation, unless you are already acclimated to living at a high altitude

There are a lot of physical and metabolic changes that occur during pregnancy. These may affect your exercise routine in some way. Always ask for modifications if something feels painful or wrong. However, know the following warning signs that you should immediately stop exercise and call your doctor, nurse or midwife.

Warning Signs to Stop Exercise

  • Vaginal bleeding

  • Dizziness

  • Shortness of breath when at rest

  • Chest pain

  • Headache

  • Swelling of the foot/ankle/calf

  • Uterine contractions

  • Leaking fluid from the vagina

There is a final category of activities that we at The Lotus Method do not recommend. This is not because they are potentially harmful to your baby, but because they are risky to your pelvic floor. Certain activities during pregnancy may increase your risk of pelvic floor dysfunction including urinary and/or fecal incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse. Certain other exercises may increase your risk of postpartum diastasis recti. These exercises also may not cause any harm to the health of your core and pelvic floor. We can’t say for certain, but we have determined the risk is greater than the reward and we therefore advise against them.

Activities We Don’t Recommend for your Core and Pelvic Floor

  • Running after the 1st trimester

  • Jumping and other high impact exercises

  • Traditional ab exercises such as crunches, sit-ups, leg lowers and russian twists

  • Powerlifting or Olympic Weightlifting above 75% your 1 Rep Max (1RM)