Pregnancy and Exercise. Should you do it?
Exercise is vital to help regulate the body and maintain health. In addition to keeping your body in shape, exercise ensures that your heart functions optimally, your foods are properly digested, and your respiratory system stays at its best. This will only become more important throughout, and immediately after, pregnancy and will help to prepare your body for the birthing experience.
Often expectant mothers think that you should avoid any form of physical activity for the safety of your unborn child. Without preexisting conditions there is no reason to stop exercising once you get confirmation of the pregnancy and it will be possible to continue in one form or another right up until the baby is born.
If you had an active exercise routine before pregnancy, you can safely continue during pregnancy with a few possible modifications. However, be sure to avoid exercises that may be risky or too demanding for your changing body. Instead of a high-impact workout, consider substituting low-impact ones especially as the pregnancy progresses. And this is not the time to start a new vigorous regime.
Benefits of Exercising During Pregnancy
Exercising regularly helps boost both your physical and mental health. These benefits don’t change when you become pregnant. It can also help alleviate some of the discomforts and pain that are commonly associated with pregnancy. Research also suggests that regular workouts can help improve pregnancy-related stress and also prepare you for childbirth. However, you should consult with your obstetrician for professional advice on how best to optimize your workouts during pregnancy.
Other benefits of exercises during pregnancy are:
- Strengthening of your heart and blood vessels which are under extra pressure due to the extra blood volume and the added weight of the growing baby.
- A decrease in your risk of developing certain pregnancy-induced health conditions like preeclampsia and gestational diabetes.
- An alleviation of back pain and also an improvement in your posture which can be thrown off balance as your centre of gravity shifts.
- The conditioning and strengthening of your pelvic muscles in preparation for childbirth and to aid your postpartum recovery.
- Maintenance of a healthy weight during pregnancy which will aid healthy postpartum weight loss.
What Kind of Exercises Should You Do During Pregnancy?
Generally speaking, it is safe to do most types of exercise during pregnancy – provided they are done in moderation and with the help of a certified instructor. Because you and your baby need an uninterrupted supply of oxygen, try to avoid exercise that leaves you breathless.
For starters, walking can be a very beneficial form of physical activity for you, even during your later trimesters. Yoga, Pilates, and the use of an exercise bike are good options. Some exercises may need to be modified so make sure your instructor has all the facts.
Tips for Exercising Safely During Pregnancy
To enjoy the many benefits of regular exercise without putting you and your baby at risk, the following tips may be helpful.
- Moderation is key – do not exercise until you are entirely out of breath. A consistent 15 to 30 minutes every day is more beneficial to keep you fit during pregnancy.
- Avoid elevated surfaces; always work out on level ground to protect your pelvis which can be vulnerable during pregnancy.
- Steer clear of activities that need you to jump, bounce or run rapidly. Your pelvic floor is already working hard to support the growing baby and the added stress of these type of activities could be unhelpful.
- Avoid stretching or applying pressure to your abdominal area during any physical activity.
- Contact sports like soccer or basketball should not be included in your workouts, especially in your later trimesters.
- Stay hydrated during and after your routines.
- Stop exercising immediately if you experience any form of pain, fluid discharge from your vagina, or if your heartbeat becomes irregular.
- Avoid physical activities if you have any heart or lung disorder or are at a risk of miscarriage. Your healthcare provider will advise if you fall into any of these categories.
- Whichever exercises you do, always consider your balance. Avoid exercises that put you at the risk of falling. A fall or impact are potentially dangerous to your baby.