Doctors Urge Pregnant Women to Fit in Light Exercise

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists' new guidelines urge pregnant women to exercise while expecting, as its proven to improve pregnancy outcomes and babies' health.
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Everybody loves to tell pregnant women about all the stuff they can't do: No coffee, no sushi, no nightly glass of wine...

Yawn.

But now the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) is telling pregnant women about something they CAN do: exercise.

In fact, according to ACOG's new recommendations, exercising while pregnanct can actually help improve pregnancy outcomes and prevent gestational diabetes, and may also reduce the risk of preeclampsia and Caesarean deliveries.

"Pregnancy should not be looked at as a state of confinement," said Dr. Raul Artal, chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at St. Louis University, who led the recommendation team. "In fact, it is an ideal time for lifestyle modification. That is because, more than any other time in her life, a pregnant woman has the most available access to medical care and supervision."

Every woman is different, but here are some things to keep in mind when adjusting your exercise routine during pregnancy.

According to ACOG, obese and overweight moms-to-be have higher rates of miscarriage, premature birth, stillbirth, and babies with birth defects. And yet nearly half of U.S. women gain too much weight while they're pregnant. "Maintaining a healthy weight is important to overall health at all times, but it becomes a vital sign when a woman is pregnant or planning a pregnancy," added Dr. Patrick Catalano, another ob-gyn who helped work up the guidelines.

So what kind of exercise are we talking about here? ACOG says walking is the best choice. The org also gives the thumbs up to cycling, swimming, yoga, running, and pilates, but caution that skiing, contact sports, and scuba diving aren't such good ideas. Also, after the first trimester, a mom-to-be should avoid doing any exercises on her back.

Hollee Actman Becker is a freelance writer, blogger, and a mom. Check out her website holleeactmanbecker.com for more, and follow her on Twitter at @holleewoodworld.

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