This is a fun topic for me because pre and post natal care is an area of specialty in my physical therapy practice, and as I write this I am 11 weeks pregnant. I promise that all of my posts for the next 6 months will not revolve around pregnancy, but there will be a few, and I am certain that even if it does not pertain to you, perhaps the information will be beneficial to someone that you know.
As always, the safety suggestions below are based on medical research and suggestions by the American College of Gynecologists (ACOG), but as always this information is not meant to substitute or override information or directions given to you by your physician.
Continuing with your current exercise program is suggested by most obstetricians provided that you are not carrying multiples. In the case of twins and beyond most practitioners recommend that you take it easy, with some walking and perhaps pre-natal yoga, however your running may be put on hold until after you deliver. The benefits to continuing your exercise program are improved aerobic and muscular fitness, facilitation of labor and recovery from labor, enhanced maternal psychological well being, and re-establishment of permanent healthy lifestyle habits.
Reasons to discontinue running:
You should discontinue any exercise if you experience pain in the pelvis or low back, are bleeding vaginally, feel dizziness or faint, palpitations, rapid heart rate, shortness of breath, difficulty walking, or sensation of contractions ( this could be pre-term labor).
Absolute No’s in exercise and running:
Signs of pre-term labor, pre-eclampsia, diabetes Type I or II, vascular disease, pulmonary hypertension, and vaginal bleeding . Always avoid contact sports, or activities where falling are a risk (soccer, volleyball, gymnastics, skiing, waterskiing, horseback riding).
Safety Recommendations while running, according to the American College of Gynecologists:
- Your heart rate should not exceed 140 beats per minute. Note: this is a general recommendation, and your obstetrician may change this to fit your health status. For example, my physician knew that I was a marathon runner, and has allowed me to run at a bit higher heart rate, though not by much. I invested in the Garmin 210 Forerunner which comes with a heart rate monitor in addition to GPS, and mileage, speed, and pace tracking. You are able to set an alarm on the heart rate so that it beeps to notify you if your heart rate is too high. You can then download all of the information from your run and save it on your computer and track your progress. Or your husband can check your run and scold you if you were beeped at too many times. The thing that you will find is that it is very easy to elevate your heart rate once you are pregnant. My resting heart rate was about 53 pre-pregnancy and is about 79 now…You can image what one little hill can do to you.
Check out the Garmin at: http://www.amazon.com/Garmin-Forerunner-GPS-Enabled-Sport-Monitor/dp/B0045ZPVB4
- No exercises should be performed in supine position after the 4th month: This means that getting down on the floor and doing flat lying Pilates is no longer an option after month 4. Fear not my friends, there are still many other great cross-training and Pilates workouts that are safe. Look forward to pre-natal Pilates posts to come!
- Avoid bearing down: Also referred to as a valsalva maneuver, this is often the result when you hold your breath during an exercise, or push through your pelvis to lift something heavy. This can result in a hernia, rectal issues, and other pregnancy disasters. Make sure that when exercising you maintain an even inhale and exhale.
- Maternal core temperature should not exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit, 38 deg. C for my Canadian and British friends. Keep cool and stay hydrated!
Above all, take care of your body, and continue to do what you can. Your baby is lucky to have a mother who values fitness and wellness!
Make your day great!