Can I do sports during pregnancy?
There used to be quite a few old wives’ tales about pregnancy. Many people thought that sport was harmful during this time. Today we know: that’s not true. If the pregnancy test is positive, you can certainly continue to be active! Appropriate physical activity during pregnancy actually has positive effects on the health of mother and baby. As long as you don’t overdo it and there are no medical reasons against it, you may certainly do sport. Moderate sport helps to pep up pregnant women and is also fun. If you follow your gut instinct and take heed of a few tips, there is nothing to stop the two of you doing some training.
Sport can do wonders for many of the complaints that typically arise during pregnancy: strengthening the musculoskeletal system helps to relieve back pain. An activated circulation and metabolism reduce nausea and dizziness. Exercise also helps to prevent thrombosis and venous disorders.
The water accumulation in the tissues typically seen during pregnancy is also reduced. In addition, the body’s oxygen supply - and thus the child’s too - improves. The chances of developing pregnancy diabetes are reduced, because continuous energy consumption lowers the blood sugar level.
Some experts even think that continuing with sporting activities until the ninth month can make labour pains more bearable. This is due to neurotransmitters, so-called beta-endorphins, which are released during exercise. In addition, the rocking movement in the womb is said to promote development of the sensory organs.
No question: the cardiovascular system, respiration and the entire musculoskeletal system are put under considerable strain during the 40 weeks of pregnancy. It is therefore important not to overdo it with regard to sporting activity. Theoretically, an excessive workload can reduce the child’s blood and oxygen supply. The increased blood supply to the muscles could also have a detrimental effect on placental perfusion.
Furthermore, the pregnancy hormones make the joints and ligaments very flexible, so that the child’s head can pass through the pelvis at birth. The soft ligaments and unstable joints make the expectant mother more prone to injury, such as a sprained ankle. So: Exercise is allowed, but the amount should be tailored to the pregnancy.
Endurance sports are very suitable for pregnant women. They provide energy, reduce stress and help to increase fitness. Swimming is particularly beneficial, because the water takes the weight of your baby bump. At the same time, all the muscle groups are exercised and thrombosis and oedema are prevented.
Cycling and hiking are also considered ideal sports for pregnant women. They are easy on the joints and ligaments. Running with your baby bump is no problem during the first three months of pregnancy, but good shoes with proper support are essential.
At the latest during the last three months of pregnancy, walking is a better alternative. Prenatal yoga and Pilates are also recommended. These sports strengthen the pelvic floor and can make the birth easier. Gym machine workouts are also recommended - allowing a targeted but regulated strengthening of the muscles.
It goes without saying that hazardous sports, such as deep-sea diving, hang-gliding or climbing, are best avoided during pregnancy. Sports with abrupt movement sequences are also taboo for pregnant women. These include:
And you should also postpone that planned New York marathon for now. Your body temperature would rise too much.
Pregnant women with a tendency to varicose veins should wear compression hosiery when doing sport. Specialist medical stores (e.g. medical supply outlets) stock special compression tights with a very soft panty section, which adapts to the growing baby bump. To ensure a comfortable fit, trained staff will take accurate measurements at several points on your leg (foot, ankle, calf, thigh).
It is always advisable to discuss your training programme with your doctor. The intensity with which women may exercise mainly depends on how sporty they were before the pregnancy. During the first three months of pregnancy, women with a good level of fitness can usually continue their exercise programme.
The further the pregnancy progresses, the more gentle the exercise should become. Ask your doctor about your ideal pulse rate and wear a heart-rate monitor to check it. Avoid overheating your body (hyperthermia), because that can harm your baby. If you can still talk while exercising, that is the correct level of intensity.
And don’t forget to always eat and drink sufficient amounts. Complex carbohydrates (wholegrain products) and vitamins (fresh fruit and vegetables) are ideal sources of energy. After physical exercise, a 24-hour recovery phase is important. Remember: at the latest from the 20th week of pregnancy, you should no longer exercise the vertical abdominal muscles in isolation.
And finally: follow your gut instincts and develop a sense of how much exercise is good for you during pregnancy.