What do I need to check before I start exercising in pregnancy and am I ‘low risk’?

Anyone can exercise during pregnancy; it doesn’t matter if you exercise regularly or if you are completely new to it. The only exception to bear in mind is if you do not have a straightforward ‘low-risk’ pregnancy. This is sometimes also called ‘uncomplicated’.

From Summary of American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) 2002.

You should not exercise if you have:

  • Hemodynamically significant heart disease
  • Restrictive lung disease
  • Incompetent cervix/cerclage
  • Multiple gestation at risk for premature labour
  • Persistent second- or third-trimester bleeding
  • Placenta previa after 26 weeks of gestation
  • Premature labour during the current pregnancy
  • Ruptured membranes
  • Preeclampsia/pregnancy-induced hypertension

You should also talk to your doctor or midwife before undertaking an exercise programme if you have any of the following:

  • Severe anemia
  • Unevaluated maternal cardiac arrhythmia
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Poorly controlled type 1 diabetes
  • Extreme morbid obesity
  • Extreme underweight (BMI < 12)
  • History of extremely sedentary lifestyle
  • Intrauterine growth restriction in current pregnancy
  • Poorly controlled hypertension
  • Orthopedic limitations
  • Poorly controlled seizure disorder
  • Poorly controlled hyperthyroidism
  • Heavy smoker

If in doubt then have a chat with a medical person first to put your mind at rest. Chances are it will be absolutely fine for you to work out. If you get the go-ahead then check out the 3-Plan (coming in the next few weeks!) which has alternatives to fit your fitness level.

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