Is it safe to exercise during pregnancy?
Wondering whether you should exercise during pregnancy? Of course you can and you must, but under expert supervision
Every pregnancy is unique and becoming a mother is a special adventure. Exercise is important and safe to do during pregnancy. As the body grows and the mother-to-be gains weight, regular exercises help remain healthy and comfortable.
It is recommended that pregnant women always check with their doctor before attempting any kind of exercise. It is also recommended that exercise be taught and supervised by a physiotherapist or a certified exercise therapist so that there is a better understanding of how the body adapts to the various changes in pregnancy and childbirth.
What are the benefits of exercising during pregnancy?
Exercise during pregnancy helps tone and strengthen the muscles most affected by pregnancy, including those in the pelvic floor, the abdomen and the lower back. It also helps maintain good respiration, circulation and posture, besides having a positive effect on mood and self-image.
Although prenatal exercise and physical fitness do not guarantee an easy labour or natural childbirth, they may give the mother more stamina to cope with a long and hard labour and more awareness to help work with the body during labour.
Women who exercise during pregnancy have higher level of endorphins (the body’s natural pain relieving substance) which helps the mother to cope with aches and pain in pregnancy and labour.
Recovering energy levels, strength and pre-pregnant size is unquestionably easier when one has maintained good physical condition during pregnancy. Most importantly, the developing babies of prenatal exercisers have more efficient hearts than those of non-exercisers, and this higher card fitness level seems to last into the childhood years. Babies of mothers who have exercised prenatally are less prone to childhood obesity and developmental restrictions.
Click on Continue Reading to know who should avoid exercise during pregnancy.
Who should not exercise?
Exercise during pregnancy has to be within safe limits. A moderate intensity workout is usually recommended. However, mothers diagnosed with conditions such as a significant heart or lung disease, incompetent cervix (when your cervix is short or is open), multiple gestation at risk for premature labor (twin or more babies), bleeding in the second and/or third trimester; low-lying placenta, and high blood pressure (preeclampsia) during pregnancy, will be not allowed to exercise in pregnancy.
What type of exercise is ideal during pregnancy?
A moderate intensity workout is recommended in pregnancy. Bouncing or jerking or high-impact exercise such as Zumba, running on the treadmill or high impact aerobics must be avoided.
Prenatal workout consists of a cardiovascular workout (walking on plain ground and swimming), breathing and pelvic floor toning and strengthening workout. Besides, prenatal yoga, pilates, slow dance, low impact aerobics, aqua aerobics and belly dance are also recommended.
Every exercise routine should include a ‘warm-up’ and a ‘cool down’ period. Exercising with smooth movements and correct postures help baby to adjust to the changes in the body.
Click on Continue Reading for essential points to remember while exercising during pregnancy.
What are the important points to remember while exercising during pregnancy?
Remember not to hold your breath at any point of time. Holding breath puts excess pressure on your pelvic floor and abdominal muscles, which can make you feel dizzy.
While you go for a walk or any prenatal workout, wear comfortable clothing and supportive footwear, carry a bottle of water and napkin and choose a time of the day when the weather outside suits you and you have consumed some food at least 30 minutes prior to exercise.
You can consume water before; during and after the exercise. You have to stop exercising if you feel nausea, dizziness, vomiting, pain in the calf muscles or pain in the lower abdomen and back. It is a must that you keep a track of your baby’s kicks before, during and after the exercise and your pulse rate.
How often should a pregnant woman exercise?
Exercising regularly 5-6 times a week will provide most benefit and avoid unnecessary aches and pains. Walking and breathing exercises are a must everyday. Pelvic floor workout can be done 3 to 5 times a week. Please learn and perform the pelvic floor workout under a supervision of physical therapist or a certified prenatal fitness specialist to avoid injuries.
Our expert, Dr Riddhi P Chandarana is a physiotherapist and a certified childbirth educator at Fit For Birth, Mumbai.
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