Most women will not do much exercise during their pregnancy. A majority of pregnant women will see their condition as an opportunity to eat what they want and not move much, citing the pregnancy as an excuse for the added weight and extra laziness. But pregnancy exercise is just as important to a healthy pregnancy as food or pre-natal care or sleep.
Safety of Pregnancy Exercise
It is a common misconception that you need to stay off your feet as much as possible during pregnancy and not move around a lot, let alone exercise. But this is only true for women who are facing complications in their pregnancy, not for the average pregnant woman.
Pregnancy exercise will not harm you or your baby. It is absolutely safe to exercise to some extent during your pregnancy. In fact, your doctor will highly recommend it for a variety of reasons which we will discuss a little later.
There are some precautions you will have to take before undertaking an exercise program. And obviously there are some things you must avoid altogether as well. Let’s take a look at some of them.
- During pregnancy, it is best if you do not exercise if you are sick.
- Contact sport is a strict no-no exercise during pregnancy.
- Any exercise during pregnancy that involves jumping or leaping about is out too.
- If you plan on aerobic exercises during pregnancy, make sure that your step is at a lower level than usual.
- After your pregnancy first trimester, avoid any type of exercise that requires you to lie on your back as it may interfere with your normal blood circulation.
- During pregnancy, your motive for exercise should be to keep healthy, not lose weight. So do not go overboard and start exercising to burn the fat. You may end up hurting yourself and worse, harming the baby.
- Do not exercise on very hot days as overheating of your body can affect your baby. Even on days with normal weather, ensure that your outdoor pregnancy exercise takes place during the cooler parts of the day like early in the morning or after 4 pm.
- Make sure you stay hydrated when you exercise during pregnancy.
- Also ensure that you are dressed comfortably for exercise. Try to buy supportive underwear.
- Always warm up before you start your pregnancy exercise. And do not forget to stretch and cool down after.
- Remember to always listen to your body while exercising. If you feel dizzy or faint, if you get a sudden pain in your back or chest, if you have any vaginal bleeding or leaking, or if you start feeling your heart beating too rapidly, then it’s time to stop because you are pushing too hard. Call your doctor if you experience any of the above just to be on the safe side.
- There are some instances in which you should now exercise at all during pregnancy. For example, if you have had a prior miscarriage or your previous baby arrived prematurely. Your doctor will know best whether or not you need to be confined to your bed or if pregnancy exercise is for you. It is thus extremely important that you get a full check-up and the green signal from your doctor before starting any exercise during pregnancy.
Benefits of Pregnancy Exercise
- The most obvious benefit of exercise during pregnancy is that it will keep excess weight at bay. Women who exercise during pregnancy find it easier to lose weight after the baby has been born.
- Exercise is an incredible way to relieve stress during pregnancy.
- Pregnancy exercise will help you sleep better if you are suffering from insomnia.
- Do you suffer from constipation? Exercise during pregnancy is a great way to get your intestines moving which will lead to more regular bowel movements.
- Exercise during pregnancy will also strengthen your muscles, joints and back, thus helping to reduce the pain that is normal in those areas during pregnancy.
- If you are worried about the actual delivery of your baby, then exercise will help to ease the experience somewhat. Exercise during pregnancy helps to build your endurance and makes you physically stronger. So you will be better able to manage labour.
- Women who exercise during pregnancy report fewer mood swings and less intense psychological pregnancy symptoms brought on by the massive production of hormones.
- Research has shown that women who exercise during pregnancy are at lower risk of preeclampsia – a condition that leads to premature birth and which is dangerous for the mother and the baby.
- Exercise makes you look good. You will have a wonderful pregnancy glow anyway. And exercise will keep your body fit and make you look great throughout your pregnancy. Many women have a low self-esteem about their bodies as they start to put on weight. Exercise will ensure that you look good throughout your pregnancy and can help with any body image issues.
- Exercise during pregnancy improves your blood circulation. This can help to prevent a variety of known pregnancy problems like varicose veins and haemorrhoids.
- You will find that pregnancy exercise actually increase your energy levels. You will also not feel as fatigued as you would without exercise.
- Pregnancy exercise may prevent the onset of high blood pressure which is known to lead to preeclampsia. Exercise can also prevent pregnancy diabetes.
Types of Pregnancy Exercise
Here are some pregnancy exercise ideas. However, remember that no matter what kind of exercise plan you choose to undertake, you must consult with your doctor first. Your exercise regime during pregnancy should take into consideration your fitness level before you got pregnant. This means that if you did not exercise at all before pregnancy, then you should start slow. And if you had a healthy exercise plan before pregnancy, then you can probably continue with a few minor changes.
- The best pregnancy exercise you can undertake safely is walking. Walking is the simplest thing you can do as you do not need any special equipment or training, it is low impact so no chance of doing yourself an injury, and it is gentle enough so as not to harm the baby. You can walk throughout your pregnancy from the first month to the last.
- Swimming is also a great pregnancy exercise as it puts no pressure at all on your joints but gives you a safe, gentle workout.
- Water aerobics is another popular pregnancy exercise, mainly because it is so much fun.
- Pregnancy yoga is a wonderful way to relax and exercise during pregnancy. Yoga is not just exercise, but will also help to alleviate and perhaps even eliminate those nagging aches and pains of pregnancy.
- An alternative to yoga is Pilates. There are several pregnancy Pilates classes for pregnant women that can, like yoga, help to alleviate certain pregnancy issues. Pilates especially will help you strengthen your core which will help to ease labour.
- Running or jogging can also be done during pregnancy. But as this is a slightly high-impact exercise, you may have to alter your pace so as not to harm the baby. Speak to your doctor if this is your choice of pregnancy exercise.
- Stationary cycling is also a highly recommended pregnancy exercise that can be done all the way to your third trimester. If you are too shy to get out of the house to swim or do yoga when you get too big, this can be a great exercise alternative.
- Strength training is also all right as long as you do not push yourself too hard. If you can find a trainer who can help you identify the appropriate strength training exercises for pregnancy, it would be greatly beneficial as it will help build muscle and make you stronger.
- If you went to the gym or had a high-intensity exercise routine before pregnancy, you may still be able to continue for a few months into the pregnancy if you feel up to it and your doctor says it is OK.