Safety Considerations and Contraindications

Doctor examining pregnant patient
Please check with your healthcare provider before starting an exercise program.

Absolute Contraindications

If you have any of these conditions you should not participate in an exercise program during pregnancy:

  • Severe heart disease
  • Restrictive lung disease - reduced lung volume
  • Cervix that will not stay closed - possibility of opening without labor or contractions (incompetent cervix)
  • Multiple birth - at risk for early labor
  • Constant second or third-trimester bleeding
  • Low lying placenta that is next to or covering your cervix (placenta previa)
  • Premature labor during current pregnancy
  • Ruptured membranes
  • Pregnancy induced high blood pressure (pre-eclampsia)

Relative Contraindications

If you have any of these conditions use extra precaution and only proceed with an exercise program under your healthcare provider's supervision:

  • Feelings of weakness or fatigue and/or shortness of breath during exercise
  • Unevaluated irregular heart beat of the mother
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Poorly controlled type 1 diabetes
  • Extreme morbid obesity (BMI ≥ 40)
  • Extreme underweight (BMI < 12)
  • History of extremely sedentary lifestyle
  • Underdeveloped growth of the fetus
  • Poorly controlled high blood pressure
  • Muscle, joint, ligament or bone limitations
  • Poorly controlled seizure disorders
  • Poorly controlled hyperthyroidism

Warning signs to terminate exercise during pregnancy

If you experience any of these signs during or after exercise please stop exercise immediately and contact your healthcare provider:

  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Muscle weakness
  • Dizziness or feeling faint
  • Calf pain or swelling
  • Increased shortness of breath
  • Uterine contractions
  • Chest pain
  • Decreased fetal movement
  • Headache
  • Fluid leaking from the vagina

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References

  1. American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Committee (ACOG). Opinion no. 267: exercise during pregnancy and the postpartum period. Obstet Gynecol 2002;99:171-3.
  2. ACSM Current Comment: Exercise During Pregnancy. Authors: Artal, R., Clapp, J., Vigil, D. August 2000.
  3. Wolfe LA, Brenner IK, Mottola MF. Maternal exercise, fetal well‐being and pregnancy outcome. Exerc Sport Sci Rev. 22:145-94. 1994
  4. Cola, S. Understanding the effects of exercise and the on set of hypoglycemia. ACSM’s Health and Fitness Journal. Vol 5. Issue 3. May/June 2001.