The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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Here’s the latest official thinking on exercise during pregnancy:
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) now recommends that pregnant women get 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise on most, if not all, days of the week.
Before you start, check with your OB or midwife. Women with an “incompetent cervix,” risk factors for premature labor, bleeding during the second or third trimester, placenta previa, preeclampsia or several other medical conditions should not work out while pregnant.
Start out slowly, and don’t get overheated. However, with your doctor’s OK, vigorous types of exercise such as running are fine, provided you don’t exceed your prepreg-nancy activity level. In many cases, athletes can even continue their activities, says Raul Artal, M.D., chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at Saint Louis University School of Medicine in Missouri. But plain old walking is an excellent prenatal exercise; Walking Through Pregnancy and Beyond (The Lyons Press, 2004) by Mark and Lisa Fenton with Tracy Teare, is a comprehensive guide.
Tai Chi Tips
Stand with your knees slightly bent, your head in line with your hips, spine erect but not rigid, abdominals drawn in. Move slowly and gently, keeping your legs moving at all times. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, keeping your face “soft” and your jaw relaxed. Keep your tongue on the roof of the mouth just behind your teeth; doing this will actually help you balance correctly. Try to still your mind, focusing on the connection between you and your baby. As your pregnancy progresses, you may choose to do tai chi on a large stability ball, in a chair or in chest-height water. — Teri Hanson
Tai Chi Flow for Pregnancy
This video program, designed by Carolyn Cooper, features calming qigong exercises and tai chi movements and is appropriate for all three trimesters. (Tai Chi Flow, 2003; 40 minutes; $20 plus shipping and handling). www.taichiflow.com 888-399-3569