You may not realize it, but performing exercise during pregnancy can benefit you greatly. Even though you may not be up for a competitive sport, light to moderate exercises will help you feel better throughout the pregnancy. Various reports say that exercises may lead to an easier delivery (depending on the types of exercises you do) and will even help you lose the pregnancy weight after childbirth. What can be better than that?
Is It Safe to Do Exercise During Pregnancy?
Doing heavy exercises during pregnancy is considered risky and unsafe. However, moderate pregnancy exercises are safe and extremely beneficial to pregnant women with good health and a normal pregnancy without complications. Fitness levels of women who do not exercise during pregnancy begin to decrease month by month as the pregnancy continues and the pregnant woman becomes heavier and heavier. A good exercise routine that fits into a pregnant woman’s daily lifestyle can prevent fitness levels from dropping and encourages a sense of overall happiness and well-being.
If you did not exercise regularly before, you should speak to your healthcare provider and even a trainer to develop the appropriate exercise plan for your pregnancy. Make sure you do not overdo it! Keep your heart rate under 140 during your third trimester (for more information, speak to your healthcare provider about your personal medical history and what will be best for you). If you have certain medical conditions or a high-risk pregnancy, exercising is not recommended. Therefore, you should not start exercising on your own if you have not done so regularly before pregnancy.
Benefits of Doing Exercise During Pregnancy
Regular exercise during pregnancy improves physical and mental health, reduces the risk of developing obesity, and prepares the body for labor. Here are some of the benefits of doing exercise during pregnancy:
#Boosts Your Energy
Now that your body is changing and your energy levels are lower than usual, exercising can help you feel better and keep your energy levels up. You will be pleasantly surprised that after a good workout, you will feel refreshed, even during the first trimester (which can be the most tiring trimester).
#Reduces Aches and Pain
Exercising during pregnancy will also help relieve backaches you may be experiencing and improve your posture by toning and strengthening your thigh, butt, and back muscles.
Exercising will help reduce constipation by speeding up the stool movement through the intestines, prevent wear and tear injuries in your joints by activating the lubricating fluid that goes on a toss in pregnancy due to hormonal changes. It will also help you get better sleep by easing the stress and anxiety that often lead to nighttime restlessness.
#Prepares for Labor
The stronger your body is, the more prepared it will become for childbirth. Exercise strengthens your muscles and increases endurance to help you cope with labor better. You will have an easier time managing pain and have better control over your breathing technique.
Other notable benefits of exercising during pregnancy include:
- Improves both physical and mental well-being by producing endorphins-the happy hormones!!
- Helps pregnant women cope with the imbalance of a growing abdomen
- Reduces the swelling of hands and feet
- Helps women to regain pre-pregnancy shape sooner after the birth of their baby
Choosing the Right Exercise During Pregnancy
If you are already a regular participant in exercise or a sport you can probably continue to participate throughout your pregnancy with some alterations which take in account your pregnancy but it is always best to seek advice from your healthcare provider.
It is not advised to take up a new sport during your pregnancy but here are some pregnancy exercise ideas that are safe for healthy pregnant women (experiencing normal pregnancies with no complications) new to exercise to participate in:
- Walking at a brisk pace
- Swimming in shallow water that is neither too hot or too cold, this is a non-weight-bearing exercise and one of the easiest ways to stay fit during pregnancy.
- Aqua natal programs designed for pregnant women
- Cycling on a stationary bike at a comfortable speed and tension setting
- A step machine, at a comfortable tension setting
- Yoga and Pilates designed for pregnancy
- Pelvic toning (Kegel exercises)
- Relaxation techniques
Guidelines for Doing Exercise During Pregnancy
Working out is good for you and your unborn baby, as long as you take safety precautions. Here are some precautions to keep in mind while performing any exercise during pregnancy:
Always warm-up slowly and cool down gradually. Muscles and joints are vulnerable when cold and are especially vulnerable during pregnancy.
Wear loose-fitting comfortable clothes designed for pregnant women, including pregnancy yoga wear and a good well-fitted maternity bra to support your breasts whilst exercising.
Levels of the hormone ‘Relaxin’ increase during pregnancy which relaxes your joints, making it easier to hurt yourself. Stretching should therefore be performed to maintain flexibility, instead of improving it. In other words, avoid developmental stretching.
Inform your instructor that you are pregnant so they can inform you of exercises which are unsafe and give you a safe alternative.
Avoid exercising flat on your back after the first three months because it restricts blood flow to your baby.
It is extremely important to drink plenty of water so you do not become dehydrated.
Stop if you feel any pain or muscular pain or are uncomfortable.
Do not get too hot and do not exercise to exhaustion.
Avoid using a sauna, steam room or jacuzzi.
Don’t perform exercises which pull on the abdomen such as sit-ups and double leg lifts.
Avoid pointing toes as this could lead to cramping in your calves, flex feet instead by pointing feet up towards your face.