Different trimesters, different exercises

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Made up your mind to exercise during pregnancy? Now work out according to which trimester you are in, says our expert Dr Riddhi Chandarana

The amount and type of exercise that is best for Pregnancy depends on the mother’s general health, the course of pregnancy and usual activity level. Physical changes during pregnancy directly affect the tolerance of the exercise.

The duration of pregnancy is usually divided into three trimesters, each consisting of three months and a fourth, postnatal trimester. Depending on the physical changes happening in every trimester, exercises vary.

FIRST TRIMESTER (1 to 12 weeks)

Less is best in these first weeks as you adapt to hormonal changes and your baby undergoes the most rapid and crucial early formation of the nervous system.

Instead of sticking to your usual fitness routine, step back and discover the power of deep breathing as you kneel, sit or lie down. When you feel overcome by fatigue, use breathing exercises to relax yourself and achieve a positive attitude.

Breathing exercises are a powerful tool to banish anxiety during this intense and delicate period of transformation for you and your baby. A light and slow paced walk for around 10-15 minutes in a day is recommended (only by the gynaecologist) for a fitness enthusiast or an overweight mother.

SECOND TRIMESTER (13 TO 28 weeks)

Once the placenta is well established, the hormones balance out. Now is the time to focus on building strength and stamina, to align your spine at all times and making space for two to ‘breathe’ as your baby grows up towards your rib cage. This is also the time for you to enjoy your pregnancy.

Pelvic floor workout begins from 14th week of pregnancy. As you sense the first fluttering movements of your baby after the 20th week, pelvic floor workout can become a focus for you to develop a receptiveness and connection with this miraculous feat of life inside you. A light and normal paced walk for around 30-45 minutes in a day is recommended too.

Click on Continue Reading to read about exercising during the 3rd trimester.

THIRD TRIMESTER (29 TO 40+ weeks)

In these last weeks, you experience a greater heaviness and need to focus on the birth. As priorities change, the aim of pelvic floor workout is now to keep you comfortable and prepare you physically, mentally, and spiritually for labour.

Energetic hip movements alternated with supported stretches to tone your pelvic floor muscles helps baby attain optimal position for labour and childbirth. Longer periods of deep breathing and relaxation helps you tune in with your baby and body without fear.

Walking can now be according to your comfort. Pelvic floor workout should be continued with the purpose of preparation for labour and childbirth at least 5 times a week.

exercise during pregnancy

Pelvic floor exercise help ease labour

FOURTH TRIMESTER (BIRTH to 16 weeks)

It is recommended to start toning your abdominal muscles and strengthen your back along with your pelvic floor muscles only after 6 weeks of childbirth.

Mothers who undergo natural childbirth can resume walk (inside the house/outside in the garden) after 4 weeks of childbirth followed by the post-pregnancy fitness regime once the bleeding stops.

Mothers who undergo C-section can resume walk (inside the house/outside in the garden) after 6 weeks of childbirth followed by the post-pregnancy fitness regime once after consultation with the gynaecologist.

Our expert, Dr Riddhi P Chandarana is a physiotherapist and a certified childbirth educator at Fit For Birth, Mumbai.

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Written by

Harshikaa Udasi