Some women think that pregnancy is a time to sit back and put their feet up. Not so! For most women, it’s important to exercise during pregnancy. In fact, it has many health benefits.
Healthy pregnant women need at least 2½ hours of exercise each week. This is about 30 minutes each day. If this sounds like a lot, don’t worry. You don’t have to do it all at once. Instead, split up your exercise by doing something active for 10 minutes three times each day.
For healthy pregnant women, exercise can:
Exercise is safe for most healthy pregnant women. With your health care provider’s OK, exercising during pregnancy is safe for you and your baby. Talk to your health care provider before you start any exercise program. Ask about what kinds of exercise are safe for you to do.
No. Not every woman should exercise during pregnancy. Don’t exercise if you have:
Ask your provider if it’s safe for you to exercise if:
If your provider says it’s safe for you to exercise, pick activities you think you’ll enjoy. Some hospitals and health clubs offer aerobics and yoga classes just for pregnant women. Or try things you can do with your partner or friends, like walking or dancing.
Swimming is especially good for you. The water supports the weight of your growing body, and moving against it keeps your heart rate up.
If you exercised before you were pregnant, it’s usually safe to continue what you were doing. Be sure to check with your provider first. As your pregnancy continues and your belly gets bigger, you may need to change some activities or ease up on your workout.
If you didn’t exercise before you were pregnant, start slowly. Try to build up your fitness little by little.
Be careful and check with your provider when choosing your activities. During pregnancy, avoid:
When you exercise, drink lots of water. Pay attention to your body and how you feel. Stop exercising and call your provider if you have any of these signs:
During pregnancy, your body changes in many ways. When you’re exercising, you may notice these changes:
Yes. Once your baby is born, exercise can help you regain your energy and get back to your prepregnancy weight. It also can help prevent the baby blues. Baby blues are feelings of sadness that some women have in the first few days after having a baby.
You may feel ready to exercise again a few days after your baby is born. Or you may want to wait longer. With your health provider's OK, you can start light exercise as soon as you feel up to it.
If you were active during your pregnancy, it’s easier to get back into exercise after your baby is born. Just be sure to start slowly. If you feel pain or have other problems during exercise, stop doing the activity and talk to your provider. If you had a cesarean section, don’t exercise until your provider says it’s OK. A c-section is surgery in which your baby is born through a cut your provider makes in your belly and uterus.
Last reviewed March 2012
Yes. Don't do exercises, like riding a bike, that could make you lose your balance. You don't want to fall and hurt yourself or your baby. Don't do activities that have potential for serious injury. These include horseback riding, scuba diving, downhill skiing or a sport in which you could get hit in the stomach. Stay out of saunas, hot tubs and steam rooms, and don't do things that could make you overheated. After your first trimester, keep from doing activities that make you lie flat on your back.
For most women, yes. Unless your health care provider advises you otherwise, sex during pregnancy is safe for you and your baby. Some circumstances make sex during pregnancy unsafe. Pregnant women who have any of these health complications should talk to their provider before having sex:
Usually, a woman can continue sexual activity during pregnancy as long as she feels comfortable. Talk to your health care provider about any specific questions.