What are Safe Pregnancy Exercise Programs?

What are safe pregnancy exercise programs

What are Safe Pregnancy Exercise Programs?

Most people have heard the advice not to start a new or vigorous exercise program during pregnancy. However, for someone who was very active before becoming pregnant, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (in their committee opinion #804), says it’s safe to continue those activities during pregnancy. 

The truth is… at first you may not want to. Pregnancy often comes with nausea, fatigue, and plenty of aches and pains that may make your usual exercise methods unappealing or even unsafe. Acupuncture is well known to help with all of these symptoms of pregnancy and can help you be able to maintain the best level of activity for you during your pregnancy.

I played indoor soccer right up until the week I got pregnant. I have friends who played soccer while they were pregnant, so I asked my doctor if it was ok for me to continue. She said yes, but then I explained that indoor soccer is pretty intense and I had seen one teammate get her nose broken and another teammate dislocate her shoulder. My doctor quickly reversed her decision and told me it would be best to stop playing indoor soccer while I was pregnant.

A couple of weeks after this conversation, morning sickness set in and I didn’t want to play soccer anyway! Even if an activity is considered a ‘safe pregnancy exercise program,’ it may not be right for you.

On the other hand, I have friends who were aerialists before they became parents, and who continued working on the trapeze or other aerial equipment throughout their pregnancy. I have other friends who have practiced yoga for a long time and made the informed decision to continue doing inversions through pregnancy. I’ve seen people continue their typical activities throughout their whole pregnancy.

One thing to consider is that each of us has different tolerances for risk. Often, an increased aversion to risk is due to a very good reason – a health history that includes multiple miscarriages, for example. For anyone who is risk-averse, the best thing is to stay with the gentlest forms of pregnancy exercise recommended by their physician or midwife, which might include walking, prenatal yoga, swimming, biking, tai chi, or qi gong.

For some, concerns about pregnancy loss can grow so large and looming that any exercise feels scary. The issue becomes not so much which activities are safe, but how to calm the worries enough that you can participate in activities generally considered safe in pregnancy.

Acupuncture is one tool you can use to relax and calm the nervous system. With the help of acupuncture and other providers, a state of calm can prevail so that being pregnant can feel safe and even empowering for you. 

For anyone who has joint hypermobility (including Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome), even something as gentle as prenatal yoga could be too much stretching, because the hormone relaxin helps prepare the body for delivery by relaxing the ligaments and tendons, which are already weak.

Other physician-approved gentle pregnancy exercise options, like swimming, walking, or tai chi, would be better choices. There is no one-size-fits-all exercise program for pregnancy, including jumping jacks. Here’s the general rule:  If in doubt, ask your primary care provider and listen closely to your body.

At Portland Acupuncture Studio, we always work together with our patients and their providers to offer the best care to help you thrive in pregnancy – as you get ready to meet your beautiful baby!  Contact us to learn more about how we can support you to have a healthy, active pregnancy. 

Established patients can schedule online, patients who haven’t seen us at Kwan Yin Healing Center call (503) 701-8766, or email us to schedule your appointment.

About Lisa Tongel

We are practitioners of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine specializing in fertility, IVF support, pregnancy care, reproductive health, and pelvic pain.