Exercise During Pregnancy
An active lifestyle is helpful your whole life, including during pregnancy. In general, most forms of exercise you’ve been doing before pregnancy are safe to do in pregnancy. Just avoid any exercise that could result in a fall or impact to the abdomen, such as skiing, non-stationary cycling, horseback riding, scuba diving, basketball, softball, etc. Bikraim yoga also should be avoided due to the potential of increasing your core body temperature.
It is okay to swim and weight train throughout pregnancy. However, avoid hot tubs. Heavy lifting won’t hurt your baby, but you may hurt yourself since the joints in the body become “loose” during pregnancy and muscle strain can occur more easily. Heat or cold packs are good to use for sore muscles. Try to keep your core body temperature normal while exercising and drink plenty of water.
Outdated heart rate restrictions during pregnancy suggested a 140-beat maximum limitation; however, there is no medical basis for this restriction. If you can carry on a conversation while exercising, your heart rate is at an acceptable level. Core abdominal exercises are great to do in pregnancy as they improve posture and help reduce back pain. Avoid lying flat on your back for long periods of time after 20 weeks.
Discuss exercise with your physician if you are high risk, or if you have pre-term labor, ruptured membranes, vaginal bleeding, placenta problems, recurrent miscarriage, high blood pressure, fetal growth restriction, or incompetent cervix.
Hobbies and Activities
Self-care is important during pregnancy. Take time for yourself! Many of your activities are perfectly safe in pregnancy. For example, it’s okay to color your hair and use acrylic nails during pregnancy. Taking baths and using the whirlpool function on your tub are okay. Hot tubs should be avoided, as the temperature is often set very high. You may continue to swim and weight train during pregnancy (see Exercise).
Tanning beds are not recommended during pregnancy. However, self-tanners and spray tans are safe. Teeth whiteners are also safe to use while pregnant. Sex is safe throughout pregnancy, unless otherwise noted by your physician.
Time to work on the nursery? It’s ok to paint those walls while pregnant, as long as you only use latex- or water-based paint, and keep the area well-ventilated.
Sleep is important to keep you healthy in body and mind. As your pregnancy progresses, it’s generally best to sleep on your left side, and to avoid lying on your back after 20 weeks. But if you wake up and you are on your back, don’t panic—it is impossible to sleep on your left side constantly for your entire pregnancy! It’s just preferable to sleep tilted to one side or the other, particularly in your third trimester, as this may promote better blood flow to the uterus and prevents maternal symptoms of dizziness, nausea and vomiting.
Travel During Pregnancy
Seatbelts expand with your growing baby, so always wear a seatbelt in the car, whether you’re the driver or a passenger. If you’re planning a long trip, you can travel the United States by land, air or water before 36 weeks into your pregnancy, as long as your pregnancy is free of complications. Limit international travel to the first 32 weeks of your pregnancy. Keep in mind that pregnancy increases your risk of blood clots, so be sure to stretch and move your legs every hour or two while traveling, and stay hydrated.
We encourage you to continue normal dentist visits. Periodontal disease (gingivitis) has been found to be associated with an increased risk of pre-term labor and delivery. Local anesthetic is safe to use, but nitrous oxide (laughing gas) is not. Your abdomen must be shielded if your dentist feels x-rays must be done.
Changing cat litter can cause an infection called toxoplasmosis in your baby. You can’t get this by cuddling with your cat, but you can get it if you have contact with cat feces. This is especially true with outdoor cats. If you must change a littler box, wear gloves, but we recommend that if possible, you make this someone else’s job for the duration of your pregnancy.
If you love to tend to a garden, it’s okay to continue this in pregnancy. Just be sure to wear gloves to protect yourself from contact with animal feces or other substances in soil. And if you’re gardening on a hot day, be sure to take rests and keep yourself well-hydrated.