Exercising during pregnancy isn’t just a good idea—it’s one of the smartest things you can do for both you and your baby. As long as you have no medically complicating factors, maintaining optimum health during your pregnancy getting 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise each day, according to major health organizations including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American College of Sports Medicine.
The best pregnancy exercises
Walking, swimming and aerobics are considered safe. However, pregnant women should avoid activities such as:
- downhill snow skiing, which carries a high risk of falling injury and altitude sickness (activity at elevations higher than 6,000 feet should be avoided);
- contact sports, which can result in trauma to mother and baby;
- scuba diving, which puts a fetus at risk for decompression sickness;
- and anything that calls for jumping, jarring motions, or quick changes in direction that might strain your joints, which are already taxed by conditions associated with pregnancy.
After the first trimester, you should also avoid doing any exercise on your back.
The best post-pregnancy exercises
After your baby is born, it’s considered medically safe for you to resume gentle exercise as soon after delivery as you feel up to it as long as you have experienced no complications and your obstetrician gives you the go-ahead.
The ACOG recommends starting off light (walking with the baby in a stroller for as little as 5 minutes a day, for example) and working up to more challenging activities very gradually.
Be sure to eat enough small, frequent meals and drink plenty of water during pregnancy and while breastfeeding so that you and your baby are adequately fueled and hydrated and your milk supply continues to flourish.