When do I Stop Exercising in Pregnancy?

Photo by Cheryl Empey

Exercising has Plenty of Perks for the Pregnant Mom

Exercising has plenty of perks for the pregnant mom. It definitely makes you feel better, boosts your mood, gives you more energy, and helps relieve those uncomfortable aches and pains. For most women, exercising is safe and recommended. However, you may want to avoid exercise if your doctor has warned you against it, or if you’re experiencing a high-risk pregnancy.

Exercising in Pregnancy

When you’re working out, you need to pay careful attention to your body and what it’s telling you. During pregnancy, you don’t want to overdo it. You should never exercise to the point where you are completely exhausted. You will also want to stop exercising immediately and contact a doctor if you notice any of the following symptoms:

Vaginal Bleeding

If you are exercising and you experience any vaginal bleeding at all – even if it’s spotting – you should consult your doctor. In the first trimester, vaginal bleeding may be a sign of a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy. Spotting in the first three months may turn out to be minor, but it’s always best to play it safe. In the second and third trimester, any vaginal bleeding that you notice can be due to placental abruption (the placenta detaches from the uterine wall before your baby is ready to be born); miscarriage or loss of your pregnancy; placenta previa (the placenta covers the opening of your uterus); an infection of the cervix; or early labor.

You should treat any vaginal bleeding during pregnancy as a potential emergency. Stop exercising and contact your doctor right away.

Leaking Fluid from Your Vagina

It’s common for pregnant women to have extra vaginal discharge, but it is not normal to start leaking fluid from your vagina. This may be a sign that you’re leaking amniotic fluid. This can be a sign that your water has broken. (Unlike in the movies, when your bag of fluid breaks, it can come out as a small trickle. Sometimes, it does gush out in a huge puddle.) When you start to leak fluid from your vagina, contact your doctor right away.

Difficulty or Labored Breathing Before Exercising

Shortness of breath or labored breathing (which is called dyspnea) is a common pregnancy symptom in the second and third trimesters. It may be the result of cardiovascular and respiratory changes in your pregnant body. Regardless of what causes it, if you are having a hard time breathing, do NOT exercise. Contact your healthcare provider and get his or her recommendations. If you have difficulty or labored breathing, don’t start working out until your doctor gives you his or her OK.

Dizziness

Feeling dizzy in pregnancy is a normal sensation, due to the cardiovascular changes in your body. When you’re exercising, you want to stop your workout immediately if you start to feel dizzy or lightheaded. You do not want to risk the chance of fainting or passing out.

Decreased Fetal Movement

By the end of your second trimester, you will have felt your baby’s kicks. You may have noticed that there is a consistent pattern of fetal movements. If you’re exercising and you suddenly notice a decrease in your baby’s movements – or you just feel that something is off – you need to contact your doctor right away. Decreased fetal movement can be a sign that something is seriously wrong with your baby.

Other Warning Signs

You will want to stop exercising right away if you start to notice any chest pains or palpitations, muscle weakness, pain or swelling in your calves, or any signs of preterm labor (contractions, more vaginal discharge than normal, abdominal pain, menstrual-like cramping, pressure in your pelvic area, and dull low back pain).

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