Maintaining a regular exercise routine during pregnancy can help you stay healthy and can have a positive impact on both baby and mom. You need to be physically active during pregnancy. Woman with normal pregnancies should get atleast 30 minutes of moderate exercise on most days. More women than ever are taking that advice, making fitness a part of their daily-routine. There are plenty of health perks to exercising for two.
As long as you exercise with caution and do not overdo it, most exercises are safe to perform during pregnancy. Do everything in moderation, never exercise to the point of exhaustion. The safest and productive exercises are swimming, brisk walking, stationary cycling, elliptical, pranayama (breathing exercises), light weight training, kegel exercise etc. Any exercise or environment that raises a pregnant woman’s temperature more than 1.5° should be avoided since it causes blood to be shunted away from the uterus to the skin as the body attempts to cool off.
Practising yoga during pregnancy is one of the best ways to keep your mind in balance. If you have never practised yoga before, start with prenatal yoga for a while, you should be able to continue your regular yoga practice with a few modifications.
Squat is one of the best exercises to keep you healthy and make you feel better during pregnancy, provided you do not overdo them. Strong legs are a must when it comes to labor and the final push to give birth. When you squat to induce labor, it creates more room for the baby to move down into the birth canal. Squats are fine, but avoid lunges and deep knee bends because your joints will be more prone to injury.
Kegel exercise helps strengthen your pelvic floor, the muscle group that controls all the flow of urine and the contraction of the vagina and anal sphincter. One of the many benefits of doing your Kegels is that they prevent urinary incontinence, a pretty common complaint late in pregnancy and during postpartum.
A pregnant body is more prone to muscle cramps in the legs and stretching can help you to overcome it. Also you can do it anywhere, anytime-even if you spend most of your day sitting down.
One need to be careful while jumping and running during pregnancy as it can hurt the baby. Use lighter weights with more reps during pregnancy to avoid overloading joints already loosened by increased levels of hormone relaxin during pregnancy.
The benefits of exercise for mom:
Exercise may prevent gestational diabetes, a growing problem among pregnant woman. It causes your brain to release Endorphins, those happy chemicals that give you a natural high-improving your mood, diminishing stress and anxiety. A strong set of abs is the best defence against back pain, which plagues many pregnant woman. But even exercise that is not directly targeting the tummy can also relieve back pain and pressure. An active body encourages active bowels. Moms who exercise tend to have shorter labors and delivery interventions, including C-sections. The more fit you stay during pregnancy, the faster you will recover physically after childbirth. Many pregnant women have a hard time falling asleep, but those who exercise consistently often sleep better and wake up feeling more rested. A little exercise can go a long way in boosting your energy levels. Being pregnant can be stressful and leave you vulnerable to mood swings and exercise can definitely help put you in better spirits.
The benefits of exercise for Babies:
Exercise is just as good for your baby as it is for you for years to come. Babies are also stimulated by the sounds and vibrations they experience in the womb during workouts. Babies of moms who exercise during pregnancy are born at a healthier weight and recover from the stress of birth more quickly. Research shows that babies of moms who exercise throughout pregnancy score higher, on average, on general intelligence tests, have stable heart rates during and after labor and have a more active and mature brain function.
If you are abstaining from exercise on your doctor’s orders, you are helping your baby and yourself. Your doctor may restrict exercise if you have a history of miscarriages or of premature labor, or if you have an incompetent cervix, bleeding or persistent spotting in the second or third trimester, heart disease, high blood pressure, anaemia etc.
A Few Do’s and Don’ts to Remember
- Keep yourself well-hydrated. Drink plenty of water before, during, and after exercise.
- Don’t stretch if anything is uncomfortable
- Start slow and gradually increase your workout
- Take regular breaks
- Be sure to wear loose fitting, comfortable clothes
- Finish eating at least one hour before exercising
- Check with your expert before engaging in any exercise.
- High-impact exercises like jumping, hopping, bouncing, skiing etc
- Sports such as football, basketball, volleyball or gymnastics and avoid overstretching
- Exercises which involve balancing, such as cycling, aerobics, ballet, especially in later pregnancy
- Once you reach 16 weeks of pregnancy, skip exercises that involve lying flat on your back, or standing in one place for long periods.
- Exercise in hot, humid weather
- Overstretch your abdominal muscles
- Do not exercise to the point of exhaustion
Always check with your gynaecologist for your pregnancy exercise protocol
Authored by Pramod CK, a leading personal fitness trainer & health expert with more than 15 years of experience. His areas of specialization include weight-loss management, strength training, Reversing lifestyle diseases, prevention of chronic diseases by means of diet, exercise and lifestyle changes etc