Staying Fit During Your Pregnancy
At Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital, we recommend exercising during pregnancy for a variety of reasons. Staying fit can help you remain healthy during your pregnancy. It reduces the likelihood of complications that can occur during labor, and being in shape before you give birth will help you lose weight quicker after your baby is born. In addition, exercise is believed to result in shorter labors and quicker recoveries for women.
Q: How can I exercise safely?
A: In general, you'll want to begin an exercise program slowly or modify your existing program to account for changes in your body. Make sure to listen to your body — it may give you signals that it's time to reduce your intensity level. It is also important not to exercise to the point of exhaustion or breathlessness, and avoid exercising in extremely hot weather.
During the second and third trimesters, you should avoid exercise that involves lying flat on your back, as this decreases blood flow to your womb, and avoid abdominal-related exercises.
It is important to wear comfortable clothes that don't bind anywhere and footwear that offers strong ankle and arch support. When exercising, make sure to take frequent breaks and drink plenty of fluids during and after exercise. It's a good idea to include relaxation techniques and stretching exercises before and after you work out.
Don't forget to fuel your body throughout the day by eating a healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables and complex carbohydrates.
Q: Can I weight train during pregnancy?
A: Weight-bearing exercises increase bone density, help improve muscle tone and build strength — all important components to a fitness program as long as you practice them safely.
During pregnancy, weight training should focus on improving tone, rather than heavy weight lifting. It is also important to avoid lifting weights above your head, as well as using weights that may strain the lower back muscles.
Q: What fitness classes are available for baby and me?
A: Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital's affiliation with the Lake Forest Health & Fitness Center makes many pre- and post-natal fitness classes available for expecting and new moms. See a complete list with descriptions on the Pre & Postnatal Class page.
For more information about class times and pre- and post-natal exercise, contact 847.535.7060.