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Pregnancy Contractions & Exercise

By Holly L. Roberts ; Updated June 13, 2017

During pregnancy, you have plenty of reasons to exercise, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Keeping active helps you sleep better, gain the right amount of weight and helps prevent aches and pain. It may even help speed up your labor and delivery. Exercise may also play a role in your pregnancy contractions, during pregnancy and labor.


Your uterus contracts all the time, but the contractions become stronger and more noticeable when you're pregnant. You may feel a tightening and hardening of your abdomen, increased pressure on your bladder or mild to severe abdominal pain, similar to menstrual cramps. When you go into labor, your contractions will get stronger and stronger until your baby is born. Noticeable regular or intense contractions warrant a call to your doctor.


Contractions are your body's way of preparing to give birth, ranging from advance twinges that tone the uterus to the ready-to-push spasms of the last moments of birth. Expectant moms may not be able to tell the difference, explains registered nurse Jeanne Faulkner in "Fit Pregnancy" magazine. Exercise may cause contractions for some women and it may also help relieve the pain of contractions throughout pregnancy.

Contractions During Exercise

It's not uncommon to experience contractions when you're working out because exercise stimulates the muscles in your uterus, causing them to contract, explains Peg Plumbo, certified nurse-midwife and instructor for the nurse-midwifery program at the University of Minnesota, on These contractions may be especially common in the second and third trimester of pregnancy, and they'll usually subside on their own within a few minutes. If they don't or if you're worried about them, call your doctor.

Exercise During Contractions

Getting a little exercise during labor may actually help you get through your contractions and speed your labor progress along less painfully, says nurse-midwife Katy Dawley in "Fit Pregnancy" magazine. As long as you're not hooked up to a fetal heart monitor or otherwise bed-bound, try gentle lunges during contractions, rocking back and forth on an exercise ball or dropping onto all fours in the cat-cow position.


If you experience any contractions that seem painful, unusual or worrisome during your pregnancy, or if your contractions are accompanied by bleeding or any vaginal leakage, call your health care provider immediately.

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