Activities in pregnancy
What do I need to do differently while I am pregnant? — During pregnancy, most women can be as active as they were before they got pregnant. This includes traveling, working, exercising, and having sex. If you have any questions about doing an activity during pregnancy, be sure to ask your doctor.
Women with certain conditions might need to limit their activity. If your doctor or midwife thinks you should limit your activity, he or she will let you know.
Travel — Women can drive and travel by car throughout their pregnancy. But when traveling by car, it's important to:
●Always wear your seat belt. The shoulder belt should go between your breasts and to the side of your belly. The lap belt should go under your belly.
●Take plenty of breaks during long trips. Be sure to stop often so that you can walk and stretch your legs.
●Keep the car's air bags turned on.
Women can also travel by plane during pregnancy. But if you are planning to fly toward the end of your pregnancy, check with the airline. Most airlines don't allow women to fly during their last month of pregnancy.
During long flights, be sure to shift your position while seated, and move your legs and feet often. You should also stand up and move around when it is safe to do so. This can prevent blood clots from forming in your legs.
If you are planning to travel to another country, let your doctor or midwife know. In some countries, infection is a concern. Ask your doctor whether you can safely go there. For example, many health care providers recommend that pregnant women not travel to places in the world where malaria or Zika virus is common.
Exercise — Doctors recommend that all adults, including pregnant women, get at least 30 minutes of exercise on all or most days of the week. Exercise has many benefits during pregnancy. It can help with your mood, energy level, and sleep. It can also help with pregnancy symptoms such as constipation, bloating, swelling, and back pain.
The type of exercise that is right for you depends on your current pregnancy, past pregnancies, and how active you were before you got pregnant.
In general, doctors usually recommend walking and swimming as good types of exercise for pregnant women. Pregnant women should avoid activities in which they could easily fall or hurt their belly. These include hockey, soccer, basketball, horseback riding, downhill skiing, and gymnastics.
To exercise safely, you should:
●Avoid lying flat on your back (after the first 3 months of pregnancy)
●Start off slowly and slowly increase your level of activity
●Avoid exercising in hot or humid weather
●Drink plenty of water
●Wear a bra that supports your breasts
●Stop exercising if you get out of breath and can't talk easily
You should stop exercising and let your doctor or midwife know if you have any of the following symptoms:
●Bleeding from the vagina
●Feeling light-headed or dizzy
●A headache or chest pain
●Fluid leaking from vagina
●Leg swelling, pain, redness, or warmth
●Not feeling your baby move as much as usual
Work — Whether or not you should stop working depends on your health, your baby's health, and what your work involves. Women who have no problems during pregnancy can usually work up until they go into labor. But it depends on your job and what it involves.
Every employer has a Material Safety Data Sheet that contains information on the chemical properties and health effects of the substances used in the workplace. If you work with or near chemicals or other toxic substances, you should read this worksheet and discuss with your doctor.
Sex — Women can keep having sex during a normal pregnancy.
Content adapted from UpToDate Patient Information.