Prenatal and Postpartum Exercise and Wellness

In general, participation in a wide range of recreational activities appears to be safe. The safety of each sport is determined largely by the specific movements required by that sport. Participation in recreational sports with a high potential for contact, such as ice hockey, soccer, and basketball, could result in trauma to both the woman and fetus. Similarly, recreational activities with an increased risk of falling, such as gymnastics, horseback riding, downhill skiing, and vigorous racquet sports, have an inherently high risk for trauma in pregnant and nonpregnant women. Those activities with a high risk of falling or for abdominal trauma should be avoided during pregnancy. Scuba diving should be avoided throughout pregnancy because during this activity the fetus is at increased risk for decompression sickness secondary to the inability of the fetal pulmonary circulation to filter bubble formation.

Source: American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Decades past have seen a rise in gestational diabetes as well as other pregnancy related issues including but not limited to birth defects and pregnancy-induced hypertension. Including an active lifestyle in your pre-natal period and even before conception will decrease these risks and even facilitate labor.

While exercise during pregnancy is encouraged it is important to note that women with contraindications or pre-dispositions to certain stressors related to beginning and continuing exercise during pregnancy should have a pre-activity readiness assessment done in accompaniment with a physicians exam and consent. One tool that we use to determine readiness is called the PARmed-X for Pregnancy,

the following points should be considered prior to beginning a prenatal fitness program. Pregnant women who have been sedentary or have a medical condition should gradually increase activity to meet the recommended levels above. Pregnant women who are morbidly obese and/or have gestational diabetes mellitus or hypertension should consult their physician before beginning an exercise program and have
their exercise prescriptions adjusted to their medical condition, symptoms, and functional
capacity. Pregnant women should avoid contact sports and sports/activities that may cause loss of
balance or trauma to the mother or fetus. Examples of sports/activities to avoid include soccer,
basketball, ice hockey, horseback riding, and vigorous-intensity racquet sports.

In addition, delivery complications, adverse pregnancy or neonatal outcomes are not increased for exercising women and may even improve delivery. Moderate exercise during lactation does not affect the quantity or composition of breast milk or impact infant growth. Increased Volume of Oxygen consumed during exercise can also improve circulation which includes delivery of oxygenated blood to the fetus.

The best time to begin a healthy, active lifestyle is ideally before conception. If you are already pregnant and want to begin an organized fitness program, consult with your Obstetrician to have your PARmed-X reviewed. If you are you contemplating a prenatal or postnatal fitness routine and need guidance, Carolina Gold Fitness can help you get organized and maintain a safe and balanced active lifestyle for you and your baby.

Source: Joint Committee of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada, and the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP)
Source: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists