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Exercise During Pregnancy: Keeping It Safe

Required Exercise Guidelines for Our Members

Before you begin or continue an exercise program during pregnancy, it is mandatory that you discuss your fitness plan with your medical provider. Continue to obtain approval from your healthcare professional for continued exercise during each prenatal appointment.

Relative Contraindications to Exercise
Use extra precaution, and discuss with your medical professional how your exercise program should be limited and what to avoid. Only proceed with an exercise program under supervision of your healthcare provider, if you have any of the following: (ACOG Guidelines)

  • Heart Problems, High blood pressure/hypertension, or maternal cardio arrhythmia
  • Anemia
  • Asthma, Chronic bronchitis or lung problems
  • Diabetes
  • Thyroid Problems
  • Seizures
  • Extremely over or under weight
  • Muscle or joint problems
  • History of spontaneous miscarriages
  • History of previous premature labors
  • Carrying multiples (e.g., twins, triplets)
  • A previously sedentary lifestyle
  • Smoking (BabyFit recommends immediate cessation of smoking during pregnancy)
  • Orthopedic limitations
  • Intrauterine growth restriction in current pregnancy

Absolute Contraindications to Exercise
Conditions that indicate a woman should not participate in an exercise program during pregnancy. (ACOG Guidelines)
  • Hemodynamically significant heart disease
  • Restrictive lung disease
  • Incompetent cervix/cerclage
  • Multiple gestation at risk of premature labor
  • Persistent second or third trimester bleeding
  • Placenta previa after 28 weeks of gestation
  • Premature labor during current pregnancy
  • Ruptured membranes
  • Preeclampsia/pregnancy induced hypertension

Warning Signs to Stop Exercise
Stop exercise immediately and contact your healthcare provider if you experience any of the following during or after exercise: (ACOG Guidelines)
  • Bleeding
  • Dyspnea (labored respiration) prior to exertion
  • Premature labor
  • Dizziness
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Feeling unusually tired
  • Headache
  • Chest pain
  • Muscle weakness
  • Calf pain or swelling (need to rule out thrombophlebitis)
  • Decreased fetal movement
  • Amniotic fluid leakage

Exercise Intensity during Pregnancy
The exercises you can do during pregnancy depend on two things: your current health and how active you were before you became pregnant.

Experts suggest using the Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) Scale, also called the Modified Borg Scale. The version of the Borg scale that BabyFit uses ranges from 1 to 10, and is a self-assessment. When pregnant, you should exercise between level 4 (somewhat hard) and level 6 (hard).

Do not overdo it. You don't want to become breathless or exhausted. In the proper range, you should be able to carry on a conversation with someone next to you. If you can sing, you may not be exercising intensely enough, but if you are too winded to speak, then slow down. Discuss your exercise intensity and get a recommendation from you healthcare provider beforehand. Here is a full explanation of the Rate of Perceived Exertion scale.
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