Why you should exercise
Women without any form of medical complications can safely start or keep on exercising during a second-trimester pregnancy. Exercises a woman can do in the 2nd trimester of pregnancy include walking, swimming, stationary cycling, and yoga and Pilates.
Women without any form of medical complications can safely start or keep on exercising during a second-trimester pregnancy. Staying active at all stages of your pregnancy is beneficial for your health.
Here’s what you need to know about exercising during your second trimester:
Most of the reasons people choose to exercise when not pregnant are even more true when carrying a baby. Exercise helps to:
- Boost your energy levels
- Reduce back and pelvic pain
- Prepare you for delivery
- Reduce complications during delivery
- Improve sleep and reduce stress
- Increase your fitness levels
- Manage your weight and stay in shape
Before you start – getting the okay
Remember to talk about your exercise plan with your OB-GYN before your start. The OB-GYN or Obstetrician-Gynecologist is a doctor who specializes in female health.
They will advise you whether it’s okay to exercise. They will also be able to suggest exercises that you can safely carry out during your pregnancy.
Exercise is usually not recommended for women who have any of the following complications:
- Some types of lung and heart diseases
- Cerclage, a kind of cervical stitch done to prevent a late miscarriage or an early delivery
- Preeclampsia which is high blood pressure that comes up during pregnancy
- Cervical or placental problems
- Severe anemia
- If you keep having vaginal bleeding during your second and third trimester
- If you’re expecting twins, triplets, or more, and there’s a risk you might deliver before they’re due
Body changes in pregnancy and how they affect the way you exercise
During pregnancy, your body can go through many changes. That means you have to be a little more careful how you exercise to prevent injury, pain, or discomfort.
- Joints become more relaxed: During pregnancy, your body releases hormones that make your joints more relaxed. That makes it easy for your joints to be hurt. Avoid exercises that have sudden fast movements or any form of exercise that’s high-impact. High-impact exercises put a lot of stress on your joints.
- Your sense of balance can be affected: As you go forward with your pregnancy, you start to put on more weight. The way that the weight is distributed around your body also changes. It can be more challenging to keep your balance when you exercise. There are greater chances of falling. Avoid sudden movements and make sure you can maintain your balance as you exercise.
- Decrease in blood pressure: During the second trimester of pregnancy, your blood pressure may drop. Avoid exercises that make you change positions quickly. For example, don’t go from sitting or lying down to standing upright quickly. That can make you start to feel dizzy.
- Some exercises can put more strain on your body during pregnancy: Avoid lying flat on your back for long periods. The weight of your pregnancy bump puts pressure on the vein that carries blood to your heart. It can cause you to feel faint. Some of these positions can be made safer by lying on your side.
- Need for more oxygen: When you’re pregnant, your body needs more oxygen. That just means that you may get tired more easily. Avoid exercises that make you work too hard or leave you short of breath.
Types of exercises you can do
There are a few different exercises that are considered safe for pregnant women. Unless your medical support restricts your activities, you can practice these at all stages of your pregnancy, including your second and third trimesters:
- Walking: Your whole body gets a workout when you walk. Walking also doesn’t put stress on your joints.
- Swimming or other water workouts: The water supports your weight, so there is less stress on your joints.
- Stationary Bicycling: Using a normal cycle may make it difficult to keep balance. You’re also at a greater risk of falling. A stationary bicycle can be a safer choice.
- Yoga and Pilates: Use versions of these exercises meant for pregnant women. Yoga is great for pregnancy as it gives you a good stretch and improves your flexibility and breathing.
How long to exercise
If you’ve never exercised before, start with 15-minute sessions three times a week to ease into an exercise routine. Slowly increase to 30 minutes a day when you feel ready.
If you’re a regular exerciser, you should be able to maintain the same pace. But talk to your doctor as your body will change, and you may need to change the way you do some exercises.
You’re working at the right pace if you can talk normally but not sing. You also shouldn’t get tired too quickly.
If you can’t talk normally, it means you’re working out too hard, and it’s time to take a break or slow down.
Remember to do warm-up exercises before you start. Also, do cool-down exercises at the end of your exercise program. Drink lots of water and other fluids. So you’re hydrated.
Your body temperature should never go so high that you’re sweating heavily. Also, reduce the amount of time you spend exercising during hot or humid weather conditions.
Exercises and sports activities to avoid
Avoid the following exercises and sporting activities. These can increase the risk of injury or cause complications:
- Contact sports like boxing, soccer, kickboxing, volleyball, basketball, and ice hockey. In contact sports, your body comes in contact with the bodies of others, so the chances of you getting injured are more.
- Scuba diving. It can cause the baby to develop a medical condition called decompression sickness.
- Activities that can increase your risk of falls like surfing, horseback riding, different types of skiing like downhill snow skiing and water skiing, cycling, and gymnastics.
- Sports that can make you hit the water with great force include water skiing, surfing, and diving.
- Any activity at high altitudes (above 6000 feet).
Watch out for these signs that tell you to stop exercising
If you see any of the following symptoms while you’re exercising or after you’re done, stop exercising and contact your doctor for medical support:
- Headache, dizziness, or feeling faint
- Swelling in the hands, feet, face, or calves (the lower part at the back of your legs)
- Pain in the chest, calves, pubic or pelvic areas
- Increased or irregular heart rate called palpitations
- Bleeding from the vagina
- Difficulty breathing
- Cramps in the lower part of your stomach
- Amniotic fluid leaking from your vagina. That’s the fluid surrounding your baby in the womb.
- Contractions. That’s when the muscles of your uterus tighten up and relax. Contractions usually take place before and during childbirth.
- Feelings of weakness in the muscles
- Your baby’s movements suddenly feel different.
- You have difficulty walking.
Exercising during all stages of your pregnancy can be beneficial for your health. Use these guidelines to make sure you’re exercising safely and avoid complications. Talk to your doctor or OB-GYN before you start any exercise program. Remember to listen to your body and seek medical help if you see any warning signs listed.
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Medically Reviewed on 4/8/2022
Better Health: “Pregnancy and health.”
Mayo Clinic: “Pregnancy and exercise: Baby, let’s move!”
NHS: “Exercise in pregnancy.”
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: “Exercise During Pregnancy.”