What Exercise Should I Avoid During Pregnancy?
For women who are already in top shape, exercising during pregnancy is about maintaining their fitness, not about making fitness gains, Pivarnik says. "Even if I had tried to take it to a new level, my body wouldn't have let me," Amy Hyland says. Before Hyland got pregnant with her first son four years ago, she was a triathlete who had completed an Ironman, and she exercised six or seven days a week. She was determined to stay active during pregnancy and continued to run, swim, and even ride her bike. "For me, it was about maintaining fitness, not training hard," she says. Hyland even did a duathlon (a run/bike/run event) at five months. "My doctor just told me to stop if I had any pain." She finished just fine -- though certainly not in record time. For most pregnant women, the fear of working out too hard is likely a misplaced worry because the pregnant body has a way of both imposing its own limits and adapting.
While there are some things to avoid, such as scuba diving, horseback riding, or any contact sport that could cause blunt-force trauma to the abdomen, there's relatively little that pregnant women can't do. Even the longstanding prohibition against exercising on your back is somewhat of a myth, Dr. Young says. It's true that lying flat on your back late in your pregnancy can cause your growing uterus to push down on the veins whose job it is to deliver blood, leading to decreased blood flow. "Blood can get shunted away from the uterus, and you might feel light-headed," Dr. Young says. But performing exercises on your back for a short period (such as a series of Pilates moves) is not likely to do any harm, and you would feel uncomfortable long before your blood flow was compromised, he explains.