Specialty Care for Pregnant and Postpartum Athletes
Staying active during and after pregnancy is good for you and your baby.
Regular exercise reduces your risk of developing gestational diabetes or needing a C-section. It can also help you recover more quickly after giving birth—and it may help with postpartum depression.
While it's important to stay active, it's equally important to have expert guidance to help keep you and your baby safe.
University of Iowa Health Care specialists will help you adjust your activities and workout intensity during pregnancy. And they'll help you return safely to activity after you give birth.
Whether you're an elite athlete or a weekend warrior, our experts in pregnancy and postpartum care for athletes can help keep you and your baby healthy.
Iowa's only team focused on pregnant and postpartum athletes
UI Health Care is home to the state's only team of sports medicine providers offering specialized care for pregnant and postpartum athletes.
Our specialists—many of whom are mothers themselves—are experienced in working with athletes during pregnancy and after giving birth.
Boosting your wellness and performance
Your pregnancy, fitness level, and athletic performance goals are unique. That's why your care team gets to know every aspect of your needs.
They'll work with you on a customized plan for staying active during and after your pregnancy.
Your care team
Depending on your needs, several UI Health Care experts may collaborate on your care plan. Your sports medicine provider may also coordinate with your obstetrician and primary care provider so that everyone who cares for you is on the same page.
Other specialists on your team could include:
The UI Health Care approach to care for pregnant and postpartum athletes
Your team helps make sure you're exercising safely during your pregnancy and returning safely to activity after you deliver.
Staying active during your pregnancy
Research shows that moderate to vigorous exercise is beneficial during pregnancy. But if you're used to exercising at a strenuous level, you'll need to modify your approach. Our team can help.
- As your fetus grows, your lung capacity decreases, and your oxygen uptake increases. Monitoring your heart rate and breathing while you exercise will help make sure you're getting enough oxygen.
- Your center of gravity and alignment change, and your abdominal muscles stretch as pregnancy progresses. This can put pressure on your lower back, causing back pain. Targeted exercises will help you keep your core strong without straining your spine.
Your personalized plan will take your fitness level into account. Your team will then help you modify your activities for maximum benefit. If you're a runner, for example, your care team will help you adjust your stride to your new center of gravity.
Returning to activity after your baby's birth
After you deliver, your team will help guide you on your journey back to activity, whatever that looks like for you.
- It's important to take the time you need to recover, establish your new routines, and let incisions or tears heal.
- Once you're ready to start training again, your team will do a functional assessment of your musculoskeletal system.
- They'll work with you on an individualized exercise plan to safely relearn muscle patterns and stabilize your core.
- Pelvic floor physical therapy, nutrition counseling, and breastfeeding support may also be part of your plan.
- You and your team will update and adjust your plan as needed to get you where you want to be.
Conditions treated for pregnant and postpartum athletes
- Lateral femoral cutaneous neuropathy
- Low back pain
- Musculoskeletal conditions
- Osteitis pubis
- Pain with intercourse (dyspareunia)
- Pelvic floor dysfunction
- Pelvic organ prolapse
- Pelvic pain
- Perinatal depression
- Pubic symphysis separation
- Relative energy deficiency in sport (RED-S)
- Scar tissue restrictions from perineal tearing or C-section
- Separated abdominal muscles (diastasis rectus abdominis)
- Stress fractures
- Transient osteoporosis of pregnancy (TOP)
- Urinary or bowel leakage