6 Myths About Prenatal Exercise

6 Myths About Prenatal Exercise

You don't need to interrupt your exercise regimen just because you are pregnant. Most exercise is perfectly safe during pregnancy, or simply needs some minor modifications. 

Soon-to-be moms have enough to worry about without piling on fitness “advice” that is based completely on rumor, fear-mongering and outright myths. Here are six of the most prevalent of those prenatal fitness myths, and why you can completely ignore them without any guilt.

Myth #1: Ab exercises can hurt your baby

*Bzzzt!* Wrong! Ab exercises are actually a great way to build lower back, pelvis and core strength, which will come in very handy when the big day rolls around. When you reach the third trimester, you can continue doing ab exercises, but avoid laying on your back. Instead transition to crunches on an exercise ball, pelvic tilts and planks.

Myth #2: Working out makes your baby too hot

This one sounds silly on the face of it, and it turns out to be nothing more than an old wives' tale, one thoroughly debunked by modern medicine (and a little common sense). Your body is more than able to naturally dissipate the heat you build up while exercising. Other than a little jostling, your baby won't know the difference.

Myth #3: Exercise increases the likelihood of low birth weight

This myth has been the subject of numerous intensive studies, all of which reveal that babies born to mothers who regularly exercise are no more likely to weigh less at birth than babies born to mothers who do not exercise. Some studies found a correlation between mothers who exercised during pregnancy and leaner babies, but the results were still well within healthy norms for weight and strength.

Myth #4: Exercising during the first trimester can increase the likelihood of suffering a miscarriage

This is another myth that has been disproved as a result of numerous studies. There is no link between miscarriage and exercising in the first trimester. While it is true that most miscarriages occur in the first trimester, this is simply coincidence. Exercise is not a risk factor. Exercise also does not cause preterm labor.

Myth #5: You need to cut out yoga while pregnant

Certain yoga poses? Yes, these need to go: inversion poses, extreme forward or back bends, Bikram yoga, deep twists, and (after the first trimester) poses done lying on your back. Otherwise, yoga is safe for pregnant mothers and helps build strength, flexibility and endurance. There are even specialized yoga classes for pregnancy.

Myth #6: Your heartbeat should never go past 140 beats per minute

This myth was actually recommended for a time by doctors, however further research determined there is too much natural variation in women's heart rates for 140BPM to be an effective measure of overexertion. Pregnant mothers should instead use the Borg Scale: during moderate activity, you should  be able to talk throughout, slow down if you have difficulty.

Bottom line: Your normal exercise routine probably needs very little adjustment on account of being pregnant. Pay attention to your body, rest or hydrate more often if you need to, and continue to keep yourself healthy and strong.


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