Updated: Aug 22
In honor of our final days with Dr. P before she begins her maternity leave we wanted to discuss what is is like to be Pregnant and still be an Athlete. We know- it may sound weird to put these two words together, but is is possible to be pregnant and still be an athlete. We also wanted to talk a little bit about how post pregnancy, you can get back into moving and feeling good so you get your body back quickly. The 3 of us Doctors here at Physical Therapy San Pedro are mothers who all have had different pregnancy experiences and we are ready to weigh in on this subject!!
When a woman becomes pregnant, perspective begins to shift. Daily exercise or training for your sport that you have always thought to be normal may now come into question, is this safe for me and my baby? We are here today to discuss the do's, don'ts, myth's, misconceptions, and great benefits of continuing to exercise throughout one's pregnancy.
Continuing to exercise throughout pregnancy holds many benefits. Here are some Stats:
Women who exercise at a moderate to somewhat hard level (3-4/10 RPE) during pregnancy are at a significantly lower risk for cesarian delivery? (Dr. Brown wishes she knew that!)
Prenatal Exercise increases cardiac output for 30-50% which can provide a safety reserve for the fetus during times of stress/labor contractions.
Prenatal exercise reduces the risk of a large birthweight baby (>90th percentile) by 31%.
When planning your exercise for the day here are some DO's to consider:
Do movements familiar to you
Do listen to your body
Do what feels good that day
Do move with intention: focus on form, quality of movement, breath
Do what brings joy :)
Do walk/cardio. Aim to maintain 25-40 min of aerobic exercise training (this can be split into 2 shorter sessions later in pregnancy)
As you train and move check in on the intensity of your exercise by using either the talk test or checking in on your Rating of Perceived Exertion. To avoid over-training you should be able to continue to carry on a conversation or keep the intensity between a 3-4/10 on the RPE scale throughout your exercise session (see below for a list of signs you may be over-training). Continue to monitor and modify your exercise intensity throughout pregnancy, as you increase your weight that will increase your workload.
Be thoughtful about the safety of yourself and the fetus, consider these DONT's:
Don't move through pain. Check in with your physical therapist if your are experiencing pain for an assessment. The body is going through big changes between changes in center of gravity and hormones causing joint laxity. You may need help!
Don't start something new, sticking to the familiar can reduce the risk of injury.
Don't forget about safety. Continue to breathe, brace, and move with control- especially when weight lifting.(see lists below for warnings signs/contraindications to exercise)
Don't compare yourself to others or even your past self, no pregnancy is the same.
Our advice is to keep moving and stay strong. There are many benefits for mother and baby to continue safe levels of exercise throughout pregnancy. We all did this differently. Check out our Blog Discussion posted on IG and FB to hear a bit about our pregnancy journey's. If you have been following our pages you will see that Dr. P has been doing it right! She is well aware that the better we keep up during pregnancy, the more quickly we will recover postpartum.
Stay Tuned for our Blog following Dr. P's return called the "Post Partum Athlete" where we will touch on our journeys of returning to sport post pregnancy:)
Yours in strength,
Dr. Brown, Dr. P, Dr. Bay
*Signs of Overtraining (Elevated Resting Heart Rate, Frequent Illness, Lack of Normal Pregnancy, Weight Gain, Chronic Exhaustion, Depressed Mood State)
*Red Flag/Contraindications to Exercise (Hemodynamically Significant Heart Disease, Restrictive Lung Disease, Incompetent Cervix or Cerclage, Multiple Gestation at risk of premature labor, Persistent 2nd or 3rd trimester bleeding, Placenta previa after 26 weeks of gestation, Preterm labor during current pregnancy, Ruptured membranes, Preeclampsia or pregnancy-induced hypertension, Severe Anemia)
*Yellow Flag/Get Clearance from you Healthcare Provider (Anemia, Unevaluated Maternal Cardiac Arrhythmias, Chronic Bronchitis, Extreme Morbid Obesity, Extreme Underweight (BMI <12), History of extreme sedentary lifestyle, Orthopedic limitations, Poorly controlled type II diabetes, hyperextension, seizure disorder, or hyperthyroidism, Heavy Smoker)
*Warning Signs to Discontinue Prenatal Exercise: (Vaginal Bleeding, Regular Painful Contractions, Amniotic Fluid Leakage, Dyspnea before exertion, Dizziness, Headache, Chest Pain, Muscle weakness affecting balance, Calf pain or swelling)