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The Dos and Don'ts of Working out While Pregnant

Is it safe to exercise when pregnant? This differs for each woman and each pregnancy, and before doing any sort of fitness it's important to check first with your healthcare provider on what you can safely do. However, there are a few general dos and don't when it comes to your fitness routine.

Don't do any sports that involve a lot of contact as this could be potentially dangerous to your unborn baby. Examples of such sports include horseback riding, cycling, skiing and water skiing, as it's easy to lose your balance. And don't lift heavy weights.

Don't do anything that requires you to lie flat on your back. According to BabyCenter, after the first trimester, you should not be doing any exercise that requires you to lie flat on your back, the reason for this is that the weight of your uterus puts pressure on the vena cava vein, and this can result in reduced blood flow to the heart, brain, and uterus.

Do stay hydrated! If you've been given the all clear to exercise, ensure that you are drinking plenty of fluids both before your workout and after. Dehydration can have incredibly harmful effects on your pregnancy, which according to Health, include causing contractions and raising your body temperature to an unsafe level.

Do warm up, and cool down. Regardless of whether you're pregnant or not, it's always important to do warm-ups to prepare your muscles for exercise, however, this is even more important when pregnant, because according to Health this helps to get your heart rate at a moderate pace—when pregnant, your heart rate is higher.

Do make use of prenatal yoga and pilates classes (which can help with balance and lower back pain) during your first trimester. According to Parents, for the most part, during the first trimester, you can continue to do the same amount of exercise that you have been doing. However, once you head into the second trimester, your heart starts to beat faster and work harder, so you need to be more careful with the activities that you take part in. For example, if you are a cyclist, you should switch to a stationary bike, and if you enjoy yoga, limit the positions to avoid ones that include backbends (like Downward Dog), lying on your back, anything with abdominal twists, or feet over your head.

Do strengthen your core. According to Mother and Baby, deep breathing exercises can help you to toughen your core and help support your spine.

And remember not to overdo it, even if you had a regular fitness regime prior to your pregnancy. Listen to your body, and if a problem does arise such as dizziness, shortness of breath (this is bound to happen much faster than you were used to), headaches, abdominal cramping or vaginal bleeding, be sure to contact your doctor immediately.

[Image via Shutterstock]

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