Pregnancy:Should I Stop Exercising?

Posted on 2013-03-25 22:00:33

Dear Ask A Doc, I am currently 5 months pregnant and I have been enjoying an uneventful pregnancy. I have been trying to exercise consistently since the beginning of the pregnancy. Initially I was jogging slowly but I have recently reduced this to walking. The only concern has been that sometimes I have been feeling short of breath. I think this may just be associated with the level of exercise but it has persisted even after cutting back to walking. However, after resting I am able to catch my breath. Should I stop exercising? How do I know when I should stop exercising? Concerned mother.   Dear Concerned mother, Thank you for raising this very important question. First and foremost, you should stop exercising until you can visit your doctor for examination and advice based on the findings of that evaluation. Exercise though recommended in pregnancy, it needs to be safe for both mother and baby. As you presume, shortness of breathe could be related to the exertion during exercise, but it may also be an indicator of a medical condition. It is therefore prudent to be more cautious especially in pregnancy, and have this evaluated by your doctor as soon as possible. There are other symptoms that pregnant mothers should look out for when exercising, and should be evaluated further by a doctor before continuing with exercise. These include:
    • Contractions – any pain in the abdomen that comes on and off, increasing with intensity may be arising from the uterus and hence exercise should be discontinued.
    • shortness of breath – any difficulty in breathing including wheezing
    • dizziness or faintness even without actually fainting
    • difficulty walking
    • chest pain or chest tightness
    • pain in the leg, and especially if accompanied by swelling. The risk of deep venous thrombosis (clots in the veins) is higher in pregnancy and needs to be ruled out when these symptoms occur.
    • fluid leaking from the vagina – clear fluid leaking from the vagina and running down the leg may be amniotic fluid, which may indicate the premature rupture of membranes and/or premature labor.
    • vaginal bleeding – bleeding/spotting may indicate a threatened miscarriage
    • reduced fetal movement – once the fetal movements begin, a noticeable reduction in the frequency of movement should be immediately assessed by a doctor.
If any of these symptoms occur, it will be necessary to visit your doctor immediately for further evaluation, after which you will be advised on whether to discontinue exercise.