#1 ACOG recommends women exercise 30 minutes a day on most if not all days of the week.
True! Additionally, in December 2015, ACOG released a document which recommended that healthy pregnant and postpartum women should participate in "moderate-intensity aerobic activity" exercise at minimum 150 minutes a week, with activity spread throughout the week. They also mention for women who maintained a high level of exercise before pregnancy, they can continue to exercise normally provided they keep in contact with their provider about when and how to adjust their exercise regimen if necessary. In short, during a healthy pregnancy, reducing or stopping exercise altogether is not only discouraged, it isn't good for mom or baby!
#2 You should only exercise as much as you did before you were pregnant.
False. This statement can be misleading. Recommendations state that healthy pregnant women should maintain their current level of exercise. Pregnant women will sometimes falsely believe this means they need to limit their exercise for their entire pregnancy if they didn't participate in regular exercise before pregnancy. This mindset is not good for moms or babies! Healthy pregnant women can start "with as little as 5 minutes a of exercise a day and add 5 minutes each week until [they] can stay active for 30 minutes a day." Building up your exercise to the recommended amount is not only deemed safe, it is best for pregnant mothers who have the all clear from their provider.
#3 Exercising during pregnancy may help prevent or treat gestational diabetes.
True! This is listed as one of the benefits of exercising during pregnancy from "Exercising During Pregnancy" by ACOG in August 2011.
#4 Exercising prevents diastasis recti(separation of the ab muscles).
Both true and false. Exercising the abdominals correctly can help prevent a large gap and decrease your chance of developing diastasis recti. On the other hand, separation is normal since it is caused by the uterus pushing against the abdominal wall and pushing the abdominal muscles apart and sometimes happens regardless of how you exercise. In some women, these muscles will knit back together on their own after birth. In other cases, where there is a large gap, it is wise to visit a PT(Physical Therapist) who can help in healing the separation.
#5 Your level of exercise while pregnant can increase your ability to cope with labor.
True! Again, ACOG confirms this! Regular exercise can increase your stamina which is very important for withstanding the potential rigours of labor and birth. This can have a ripple effect into a smoother transition into the postpartum stage, which can help with breastfeeding and postpartum recovery, and result in a reduction in the risk of developing PPD- Postpartum Depression.
~Callie Corless - Birth Doula and Prenatal Dance Instructor in Dallas - Fort Worth, TX