How to Do Exercises During the Last Month of a Pregnancy

During the ninth month of pregnancy, you’re in the home stretch. At this point, your body has changed so much it’s probably hard to remember what it felt like to be able to move normally.

But, if your doctor approves, you can and should keep moving. Exercise can help diminish the aches and pains of late pregnancy, improve the quality of your sleep, boost your mood, and may even help stave off complications such as pre-eclampsia or gestational diabetes. However, during this final month you will undoubtedly need to make certain adjustments to your regular routine.

Choose low impact forms of exercise. During the second and third trimesters of pregnancy, the body releases a hormone called “relaxin” that loosens your ligaments and joints in preparation for labor. While softer ligaments facilitate delivery of the baby, it puts you at higher risk for injury or falling down when you exercise. For your final month, choose gentle exercises such as swimming or walking, which do not put undue stress on your joints. Other popular forms of exercise for the ninth month include prenatal yoga, squats, stretches and pelvic tilts.

Drink plenty of water. When you exercise, you’re at an increased risk of becoming dehydrated. Dehydration can cause premature labor. While this is not as problematic in the ninth month as in earlier months, it is preferable to avoid early labor when possible. Drink 2 cups of water an hour before the start of an exercise routine, another cup when halfway finished, and then one more cup after finishing. You should also avoid exercising outdoors in hot, humid weather even if you’re moving very slowly as that too can cause you to overheat or become dehydrated.

Perform Kegel exercises. At 9 months pregnant, your baby is putting a great deal of pressure on your pelvic floor, which can weaken it and cause a variety of problems such as urine leaks and pelvic organ prolaspe. Kegel exercises help keep the pelvic floor strong. To perform a Kegel, tighten your pelvic floor muscles as if you’re stopping the flow of urine, hold the position for five seconds, and then release. Repeat 10 times. Perform these exercises three times daily.

Listen to your body. If you feel exhausted or find yourself unable to exercise at the pace you were maintaining in earlier months of pregnancy, follow your body’s signals and take it easy. Exercising when you are exhausted can make you feel light-headed or dizzy, which may cause you to fall and injure yourself. In addition, if you experience cramping, sharp pains in your back or pelvis, or fluid leaking from your vagina, stop exercising immediately. If these symptoms do not stop within a few minutes, call your doctor -- you may be in labor.