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Be it your first or third pregnancy, exercising to stay active will help elevate anything from pains to general aches to even easing your labor. However, if you are not accustomed to exercising in your pre-pregnancy days, then you might not know what moves are okay for your body while you have a little human inside you. Having a baby turns your usual body chemistry upside down as they change to accommodate another being inside you.
Is walking good during pregnancy? Why walk? Walking is an aerobic activity that doctors will recommend you to take part in when you are pregnant because it is accessible, effective, and safe. You need ample exercise to keep yourself fit during pregnancy and to ease any labor pain. Here are more facts about walking during pregnancy, how much walking you should do, when to stop, and how to modify your exercise as you move through your pregnancy.
Is It Safe To Walk While Being Pregnant?
The CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) states that pregnant folks or people postpartum who are healthy must aim to exercise about 150 minutes every week. You may split it into 5 30 minute sessions with moderate intensity workouts such as brisk walking.
Walking is a great activity to work up your cardiovascular system with no taxing on your joints and muscles. CDC recommends it as a low-risk activity that is safe for the child and the mother. It will not lead to any complications such as miscarriage, preterm labor, or low birth weight.
However, every person has a different pregnancy story to tell so you must always consider your doctor’s words while beginning any kind of best exercise during pregnancy.
What Are The Benefits Of Walking During Pregnancy?
You may not feel like moving your body when you are pregnant especially if you have morning sickness but to keep fit you need to be active. Fitness during pregnancy comes with several benefits that will show its benefits on you in the long run. Walking and other kinds of moderate exercises during your pregnancy will reduce the risks of gestational diabetes and preeclampsia, says the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). It even saves you from the risk of going through cesarean delivery (C-section). Here are some other benefits of walking:
- It helps shed the baby weight postpartum if you continue walking pos-delivery.
- It is a workout for your heart, blood vessels, and lungs and ensures overall cardiovascular health.
- It either improves or maintains your fitness level throughout the pregnancy.
- It saves your bowel from combat constipation.
- It keeps the muscles strong enough to reduce back pain.
- You will maintain a healthy weight gain throughout your pregnancy.
Here is a 2009 review of pregnant women and their exercises that reveals that walking has the power to elevate your mood and reduce all kinds of pains and aches. Apart from walking, you can also indulge in other kinds of aerobic activity such as,
- Cycling on a stationary bike
Is Pelvic Pain Normal Or A Cause Of Concern?
Pelvic or abdominal pain is quite normal during pregnancy because during this time your muscles and ligaments are stretching to accommodate the baby’s growing size. However, you notice that your pelvic pain increases with walking, ease up to see if you are having an off-day. Do remember to monitor all symptoms to make sure that you are not experiencing premature labor.
Immediately stop exercising if you notice any of the following symptoms and call your healthcare provider:
- Contractions (especially if it is painful or regular)
- Calves swelling
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath that starts even before you exercise
- Feeling faint or dizzy
- Any fluid coming out of your vagina
- Any bleeding from your vagina
Remember to call your doctor if the pain in the pubic bone or the pelvis increases. It may also be possible that you are experiencing symphysis pubis dysfunction which is also called pelvic girdle pain. It will cause pain in your pelvis because the muscles and ligaments in your pelvic region have loosened due to pregnancy. Your doctor will refer you to a physical therapist to change your exercises to benefit your pelvis and restore function.
Precautions For Each Trimester
At whatever stage of pregnancy, you are in remember to wear supportive shoes such as athletic sneakers when you start walking as an exercise. Also, hydration is very important too. Keep a bottle in handy all the time and have water before and after your exercise. According to a 2020 study by the Institute of Medicine, it is recommended that you must drink 2.7 liters of water every day, which is around 11 glasses of water (8 ounces).
If you are worried it might take you on a number of trips to the bathroom, then walk around an area that has access to public restrooms or do it near your house. Here‘s what to do for each trimester of your pregnancy.
First Trimester: When To Start Walking During Pregnancy
Morning sickness or exhaustion will be your friends during your first trimester. This might also be the time you are beginning to exercise. So the key is to start short and slow then build up. The ACOG’s suggestion is to start walking 5 minutes every day for a week and then add 5 more minutes every week. Do this till you reach the 30 minutes at a time mark.
If you were physically active before pregnancy then it is fine to keep doing the same workouts even the vigorous exercise of running. However, your doctor’s approval is necessary for the running while pregnant.
Second Trimester: Benefits Of Walking During Pregnancy
By the time you reach your 2nd trimester you will be motivated and energized to exercise but do not overdo it. Keep up a brisk walking pace and do not exercise to the point of extreme exhaustion. Working up a sweat can be a real feel-good moment, but at the same time, you must be able to have a conversation and not be too out of breath.
Third Trimester: When To Stop Walking Or Exercising During Pregnancy
In your third trimester of pregnancy, your center of gravity must have changed so take note of it and stick to flat surfaces while walking to avoid falling or tripping. If you experience abdominal or pelvic pain, try a pregnancy support belt to relieve some pressure off your joints.
Take A Break!
Sometimes, no matter at what stage of pregnancy you are in, your doctor may ask you to take certain steps of precautions to avoid certain complications. Every person’s case might be different so keep in touch with the healthcare provider to guide you properly if you exhibit some of the following symptoms or conditions:
- Severe anemia
- High blood pressure or preeclampsia
- Ruptured membranes
- Placenta previa after 26 weeks
- Preterm labor risks
- Lung or heart diseases
Your pregnancy symptoms will wax and wane which is why you may find yourself unmotivated to go out and walk or you may be feeling too sick for not having slept properly the night before. So on the days that you feel drained or tired, try to walk short distances or do other kinds of gentle exercises such as yoga. Or you may even take the day off.
If you feel drained all the time get in touch with your doctor to detect other issues such as anemia which might be the culprit impacting your energy levels.
Consult Your Doctor!
Walking Is the safest exercise for most pregnant people. If you are a novice at exercising, consult your doctor for any guidelines on how to begin safely. It is time to call your healthcare provider if you experience signs of preterm labor such as blood or fluid from the vagina, or regular contractions. Even issues like headaches, swelling, or chest pain must be reported.
No excuses for missing your prenatal appointments as these visits will help your doctor keep an eye on your and your baby’s health progress. Plus, this would be an excellent opportunity to ask questions and concerns about your health issues.
Walking During Pregnancy: Final Words
All you need for walking is a great pair of shoes and a flat path to walk on. Pack a bottle of water with you to sip no and then for hydration and you are good to go. Before you know it, you’ll be having a tiny tot on row on your walks!