From yoga to swimming, exercise classes for pregnant women are all the rage. If you like a workout, you might be curious about them too! On one hand, you might have some anxieties: what’s the right kind of early pregnancy exercise for you? And how much is too much?
On the other hand, bringing your baby into the world is going to take all your strength, so isn’t it good to build up some stamina for labor? Let’s have a look at the myths and facts on exercise in the first trimester.
First trimester exercise: Is it safe?
The fourteen weeks of the first trimester is the period of the time in which most miscarriages occur. Nearly 80% of all miscarriages occur at this time, and generally happen before the first 12 weeks.
However, in almost all of these cases, this is due to chromosomal abnormalities in the embryo. In most cases, there is nothing the mother could have done to avoid a miscarriage. Despite the common misconception, the rate of miscarriages caused by exercise in the first trimester is very small overall.
So exercise in early pregnancy can be safe?
Aside from chromosomal abnormalities, the overall health of the uterus is also thought to be a contributing factor in miscarriage and infertility. Irregularities such as poor blood flow to the womb could cause the placenta to develop abnormally, preventing nutrition from reaching the developing embryo and leading to pregnancy loss. Mild exercises can improve the blood circulation around your uterus and reproductive organs, boosting your chances of a healthy pregnancy.
It’s true that too much strenuous exercise is risky for your pregnancy, and moderation is key. The right balance of exercise in the first trimester can bring a number of positive effects to pregnant women, from stress relief to relieving constipation. This goes for the morning sickness period of early pregnancy, too: a little light exercise gives you the chance to get some fresh air and to refresh your mood, which may be helpful in reducing the severity of morning sickness.
Exercise in early pregnancy: Safety first
As we’ve noted, it’s rare for exercise in first trimester to be the cause of a miscarriage. However, you still shouldn’t push your luck with high-intensity workouts. For instance, at the very early stage of pregnancy in the first trimester, the fertilized egg hasn’t attached itself to the uterine lining securely, so it’s best to avoid more strenuous exercises – particularly activities where you have to jump or move your body up and down.
Other high-risk activities to avoid in all stages of your pregnancy include ball games, contact sports and intense muscle training. You will also need to be careful about the risk of falling. Finally, as riding a bicycle causes vibrations from the saddle to travel through your belly, it would also be best to avoid cycling.
The best first trimester workout: Walking!
The number one recommendation for the first trimester exercise is walking. Try to keep these points in mind when you’re out and about:
- Try to walk continuously for about 30 minutes per day
- Choose a familiar path with wide streets
- Avoid areas with heavy traffic
- Minimize the amount of things you bring with you, and don’t carry anything heavy
- Don’t push yourself if you feel too tired, or ill from morning sickness
- Keep yourself well hydrated
Just in case anything were to go wrong, keep numbers like your obstetrician and local taxi company on hand in your maternal health log or saved to your phone. Knowing they are just a phone call away will help keep your mind at ease.
It’s also fine if you want to join in maternity yoga or swimming at this time, but a number of classes don’t accommodate women in the early stages of pregnancy, and the symptoms of morning sickness might make participating a bit difficult. These early pregnancy symptoms will likely settle down as you enter the second trimester, which means the end of morning sickness could be a good time to get started.
Speak to your doctor about exercise in early pregnancy
The most important thing about exercise in the first trimester is to see it through feeling safe and relaxed. Exercise can be a great way to relieve stress — so, as long as you don’t push yourself it could do you good to move about a bit. Speak to your doctor — they should be able to suggest a level of exercise that best suits your fitness and pregnancy goals.
However, with your body undergoing such rapid changes, it’s understandable if just breathing feels like a chore right now. Everyone’s experience of pregnancy is different, but if you feel up to doing some exercise, get the OK from your doctor first. Then you’re good to go!