Fear Factor: Why Are Moms-to-Be Afraid of Exercise?
Studies show the health benefits of exercise during pregnancy—so why are so many moms-to-be afraid to workout?
A survey of 90 pregnant women found that many expectant moms still believe exercise does prenatal health more harm than good. “Despite what we have said over the last 10 years, pregnant women are still afraid exercise is going to hurt their child,” Dr. Melissa J. Hague, a clinical assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Kansas School of Medicine in Wichita and survey author, tells WebMD.
Conducting interviews with pregnant moms between 16 to 30 weeks pregnant, Dr. Hague found a number of surprising attitudes:
- Before pregnancy, almost 50 percent of women said they exercised moderately, at least 90 minutes a week. After becoming pregnant, less than 27 percent did. Women cited safety concerns as the number one reason why they stopped.
- Approximately 60 percent of women who exercised regularly during pregnancy thought working out longer than 30 minutes is safe. Among non-exercising women, only 18 percent did.
What gives? It could be that “myths passed down within the family may trigger women’s fears,” says Dr. Hague. “If [their own] moms tell them, ‘You are going to hurt the baby,’ they are not going to do it.”
What is a safe workout during pregnancy? For otherwise healthy women, guidelines from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists encourage pregnant women to engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise on most days of the week. Top exercise choices for moms-to-be include walking, prenatal yoga, and swimming.
If you have any questions, be sure to talk to your doctor or midwife about which exercise is right for you.
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