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Why Exercise Is Important For A Healthy Pregnancy

Between the advice from crossfit legends, Navy SEAL fitness founders, and elite marathoners, you’ll be well prepared to maintain your exercise routine once you’re an exhausted, time-strapped parent. Of course, “maintain” implies that you had one before, which means you’d better get moving now. While that might seem like the last thing on the mind of your exhausted, time-strapped, pregnant wife, doctors actually recommend 30 minutes of exercise a day during pregnancy. In fact, once in the second trimester, it’s advised that she avoid standing still for long periods of time. You, on the other hand, probably don’t need to wait 6 months to get up off your ass, so here’s all the fitness that’s fit for you to do together.

The Basics
There are a whole bunch of totally safe activities for pregnant women; Body And Soul has an entire category dedicated to “Exercise During Pregnancy” you can hit up for examples. Interestingly, if not questionably relevant, exertion is okay at altitudes up to 6,000 feet. That doesn’t necessarily mean should choose now to cross off “Scale Mount Kilimanjaro” from your couple’s bucket list, but you could. (Seriously though, don’t do that.)

There are also a whole bunch of totally unsafe activities, like anything with a high risk of falling or shots to the gut. So much for you guys winning your regional wife carrying championship, but on the plus side, you can refuse to take her horseback riding and call it a supportive display of solidarity. Your wife should also avoid any exercise that requires lying on her back; she’ll have to wait until next year’s combine to beast out in the 225-pound bench press. There’s a list about a mile long of warning signs to stop exercising or conditions where she shouldn’t. As long as she’s healthy, though, you guys can feel free to run to the end of that list and back.

Prenatal Yoga
Prenatal yoga has been proven to improve strength, stamina, and balance while relieving high-stress muscle groups as the baby grows. It also relaxes the nervous system, improves circulation, and is great breathing practice. One study even suggests one 75-minute class a week for 10 weeks could effectively treat depression. Incidentally, all those things would probably benefit you, too, without the whole growing another human inside of you for 9 months deal. Then again, only your wife will enjoy benefits like preparation for labor and quiet connection with your baby, so she wins. Either way, here’s a 15-minute sequence to get you started.

Prenatal Massage
The health benefits of massage are widely accepted, among them helping to alleviate various pregnancy-related issues, with one important caveat: you must know what the hell you’re doing.This video offers a solid primer. A few quick tips:

  • Make sure your wife is semi-reclined (after 22 weeks), or have a pillow under her right side while lying on their back (from 13-22 weeks).
  • Have her leaning up and looking forward, not up at the ceiling, as you massage the neck shoulders, and chest, which gets very tight during pregnancy.
  • Be careful massaging arms as pregnancy hormones will greatly relax ligaments.
  • When massaging the legs, don’t use any deep pressure as pregnant women are susceptible to blood clots. Redness, achiness, shininess of skin, or swelling in the calves can be a sign of this. Call a doctor, don’t try to massage it away.
  • Massage the back with her in a side-lying position.
  • Not that you needed the reminder, but here it is: don’t forget the feet.