Trying to conceive a baby can be such a confusing process. Most women, when consciously starting to try to get pregnant, aren't sure where or how to start making lifestyle changes. Should you be avoiding alcohol completely? What foods should you increase or decrease? And what about exercise? It can be overwhelming to try to think of how much is too much, or what is unsafe. Like, is it safe to work out and lose weight while trying to conceive?
According to Dr. Carla Ortique, OB-GYN at The Women's Specialists of Houston at Texas Children's Pavilion for Women, exercise can play a vital role in successful conception. "Maintaining a fitness regimen is important to increasing the likelihood of a healthy pregnancy," she tells Romper. "Therefore," Ortique continues, "exercise and if needed, weight reduction, are encouraged prior to pregnancy and are not contraindicated during the time of attempting to conceive."
In fact, exercise and weight loss is often used as a tool to help women who are overweight become pregnant, says New York City nurse/midwife Kara Manglani. "However being underweight negatively impacts fertility. As with everything, just don’t overdo it," she tells Romper.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, which includes proper nutrition and moderate exercise appropriate for your body type and condition (there is a big difference between exercising and over-exercising), can help increase your chances of getting, and staying, pregnant.
If you're concerned whether or not your current exercise regimen is safe for conception and pregnancy, talking to your healthcare provider is always a good idea. In general, Dr. Wendy Goodall McDonald, OB-GYN, tells Romper, guidelines recommend 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, even in pregnancy. "This could be 30 minutes of cardio, five days per week, for example," she says. While losing weight prior to pregnancy might help you conceive if you are overweight or obese, losing weight during pregnancy is not recommended, McDonald notes.
"But," McDonald continues, "gaining minimal weight is recommended in women who are already overweight or obese." For example, a woman with a normal BMI 21-26 should expect to gain 25 to 35 pounds during the pregnancy. A woman with a starting BMI over 30 may only want to gain 10 to 15 pounds. "Working out and eating a healthy diet can cause a woman to only gain minimal or no weight in certain parts of the pregnancy, and that is OK," McDonald assures.
Both also play a huge role in helping to support healthy growth and development of your baby once you are pregnant. So, if you exercise regularly, it's best to continue when trying to concieve. And, if you don't, it's probably a good idea to start.
As Parents noted, it's tempting to wait until the strip turns pink in order to settle into a exercise routine, but being in good physical shape during those early days of pregnancy can impact fetal development in a positive way. When you're pregnant, your health directly correlates with your baby's health, so there's no reason to wait. Making exercise and healthy eating a habit before you're even pregnant can help you keep it that way when you do become pregnant.
Moderate routines, such as walking, hiking, swimming, and working out on the elliptical or treadmill, are all great ways to ease into simple, effective exercise. Weight loss is definitely not the priority here, so stay away from gimmicky diets and exercise programs that promote quick weight loss (in general, those are typically neither healthy nor safe).
Before you continue your old exercise routine or begin a new one, you should talk to your doctor about exercising, especially after you get pregnant.
Check out Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries:
Watch full episodes of Romper's Doula Diaries on Facebook Watch.