Congratulations! You’re pregnant. It’s so exciting. And, when you’re one of the 12% of couples battling infertility, that positive pregnancy result can be terrifying too. There’s so much at stake, and you want to ensure that your body and your fetus the very best chance to make it through a healthy, full-term pregnancy.
One of the first questions most RRC patients ask after a successful IVF cycle is: Is it safe to exercise? Even during the first trimester?
First: for the purposes of this article, the word Exercise refers to low- to moderate-levels of activity. Training for a marathon or triathlon, horse jumping, playing contact or ultra-competitive sports, or exercising 175-minutes a week or more is considered Vigorous. Moderate exercise refers to 150-minutes of moderate activity per week. Ideally, that would be 30-minutes a day, five-days per week. Even things like mowing the lawn or taking the dog for a walk count. Read Moderate to Vigorous…posted by The American Heart Association to learn how to determine the difference for your body.
Exercise is healthy. Yes, it helps you to burn off excess calories, but it’s also good for your heart, biochemistry and blood sugar levels. Several studies have found a correlation between women who exercise regularly and increased pregnancy rates. That being said, if you are a normally sedentary person, early pregnancy is not the time to abruptly step up your exercise routine. If you want to start exercising, good for you, but start very slowly with gentle movement in the beginning and then gradually add to your program so you don’t shock your body.
Observe Doctor’s Recommendations During Egg Retrieval & the Two-Week Wait
Once you start IVF, the rules change a bit. Because of ovarian swelling that occurs with injectable fertility meds, used to retrieve the eggs for IVF, you will be told to abstain from exercising during this phase of your treatment. This is because you are more at risk for ovarian torsion, where the ovaries actually twist around, which can be very painful.
You will also be asked to take it easy for the first few days after your embryo has been transferred to give it the very best chance of implanting. Fertility experts also recommend slowing things down during the two-week wait (TWW), although things like slow walks are just fine.
Also, depending on your medical and pregnancy history, your doctor may have more specific recommendations or suggestions regarding exercising after IVF. There are certain conditions or scenarios where exercise may not be advised, or where careful considerations are in order. Those include women with:
- A history of recurrent miscarriage
- A history of premature labor
- Vaginal bleeding
- Heart disease
Your doctor will have specific recommendations or guidelines ready for you at your first post-pregnancy appointment.
Pregnancy Recommendations During the First Trimester
Once your first-trimester is officially underway, most IVF patients can follow the same pregnancy exercise guidelines set forth by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Safe, low-moderate exercised include things like:
- Swimming or water aerobics
- Running (if you ran before your pregnancy, you should be fine to run now – although you may need to modify your running schedule. If you weren’t a runner before pregnancy, stick to lower-impact exercises.
Other considerations for exercising during the first trimester after IVF:
- Avoid exercising in excessively hot or humid weather.
- If you haven’t exercised in a while, start with just 5-minutes per day of activity and increase it as you build endurance.
- Drink plenty of water before, during and after exercising to avoid overheating and dehydration.
- Make sure you are consuming an adequate daily calorie intake for your pregnancy.
Also, we recommend listening to your body. It will give you signs and warning signals that are dangerous to ignore. You should stop exercising, and contact your doctor, if you experience any of the following:
- Vaginal bleeding
- Increased shortness of breath
- Dizziness or feeling faint
- Muscle weakness
- Swelling or pain in calves or ankles
- Chest pains
- Prolonged headaches
- Uterine cramping or unusual lower back pain
- Fluid leaking from vagina
- Decreased fetal movement
These are all signs that your current activity level is too high for your body and your baby, and/or that something may be going on inside that precious uterus. It’s worth checking in with a healthcare provider.
victor at picjumbo.com