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Exercise During Pregnancy: Care Instructions

Your Care Instructions

Exercise is good for healthy pregnant women. It can relieve back pain, swelling, and other discomforts of pregnancy. It also prepares your muscles for childbirth. And exercise can improve your energy level and help you sleep better.

If your doctor or midwife recommends it, get more exercise. Walking is a good choice. Bit by bit, increase the amount you walk every day. Try for at least 2½ hours a week. But if you do not already exercise, be sure to talk with your doctor or midwife before you start a new exercise program. Try exercise classes for pregnant women. Doctors do not recommend contact sports during pregnancy.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Talk with your doctor or midwife about the right kind of exercise for each stage of pregnancy.
  • Listen to your body to know if your exercise is at a safe level.
    • Do not become overheated while you exercise. High body temperature can be harmful to your baby. Avoid activities that can make your body too hot.
    • If you feel tired, take it easy. You might walk instead of run.
    • If you are used to strenuous exercise, pay attention to changes in your body that mean it is time to slow down.
  • If you exercised before getting pregnant, you should be able to keep up your routine early in your pregnancy. That might include running and aerobics. Later, you may want to switch to swimming or walking.
  • Eat a small snack or drink juice 15 to 30 minutes before you exercise.
  • Eat a healthy diet. Make sure it includes plenty of beans, peas, and leafy green vegetables. You may need to increase how much you eat to get extra energy for exercise.
  • Drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after exercise.
  • Avoid contact sports, such as soccer and basketball. Also avoid scuba diving, exercise in high altitude (above 1,800 metres [6,000 feet]), and horseback riding.
  • Do not get overtired while you exercise. You should be able to talk while you work out.
  • After your fourth month of pregnancy, avoid exercises (such as sit-ups and some yoga poses) that require you to lie flat on your back on a hard surface.
  • Try swimming and brisk walking during all your pregnancy.
  • Get plenty of rest. You may be very tired while you are pregnant.

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.