It was once believed that pregnancy was a time for women to rest, relax, and take it easy.  While pregnant women should still get plenty of rest, prenatal fitness is now highly recommended by doctors and midwives.  It may be difficult for pregnant women to be extremely active, especially in the third trimester, but light exercise during pregnancy offers many benefits to both the mother and the baby.  Pregnant women who exercise throughout their pregnancy should take the following precautions so that they do not injure themselves or their babies.

1.  Take it easy on the joints

Pregnancy hormones cause tendons and ligaments in a woman’s body to soften and stretch.  This comes in handy when the pelvis needs to expand during labor to accommodate the baby.  However, it also adds an element of danger to prenatal exercise.  A woman should be aware of her limber joints and not partake in any activity or exercise during pregnancy that places too much stress on her joints and may cause injury.

2.  Keep it cool

Especially during the first trimester of pregnancy, it is important that women do not let themselves overheat while exercising.  Studies have shown that this can interfere with the development of the baby’s neural tube.  Experts recommend that pregnant women work out in an air conditioned environment and drink plenty of water so that their body temperatures stay within a reasonable range.

3.  Do not exercise for weight loss

Pregnancy is a time when a woman gains weight.  Many women fear this aspect of pregnancy, but it is essential if a healthy child is to be born.  On average, most women gain about 35 pounds during the course of the pregnancy.  Some women are so worried about this weight gain that they exercise for the purpose of either maintaining their pre-pregnancy weight or actually losing weight.  This is very dangerous and unhealthy for the baby.  Exercise during pregnancy may be used to keep weight gain within normal range, but it should not be used to completely restrict it.

4.  Listen to the body’s signals

The human body has a wonderful way of communicating, and pregnant women should listen to their bodies’ warning signals.  If a pregnant woman feels faint, dizzy, or short of breath during exercise, she should stop the activity and let her body take a break.  Sudden weakness and dizziness may be caused by low blood sugar levels, and women who experience this should be sure to eat a healthy snack.  Getting short of breath is a sign of over exertion, and this should be avoided as well.  The goal is not to train for a marathon race, but simply to keep the body active and fit.

As a mother, a woman has a great responsibility for the well-being of her child.  While it is important that she takes care of her own body during pregnancy, she should not take part in strenuous activities that may harm her baby.  Expecting mothers should use keep these tips in mind when exercising during pregnancy so that healthy and safe pregnancies can progress.