Pregnancy comes with a lot of discomforts including lower back pain, heartburn, insomnia, constipation, headaches and morning sickness. During this time, the mere thought of engaging in any form of physical activity can sound outrageous. But, experts agree that exercise during pregnancy has significant benefits both for the mother-to-be and the baby.  It is for this reason that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend that pregnant women get at least a total of 150 minutes of tolerable aerobic activity each week. 

If you need more reasons to finally tie up those dusty sneakers and get moving, read on!

Is it Safe to Exercise During Pregnancy?

Overall, exercising during pregnancy is safe and often recommended. Normally, if you were active before pregnancy, it is likely safe to continue being active while pregnant as long as you are comfortable and have no other health complications. 

It is good to note that the main purpose of exercise during pregnancy is not weight loss, though physical activity during this time will likely help you lose weight after delivery. While exercise does not lead to miscarriage in a normal pregnancy, it’s important to consult with your gynecologist before starting any new workout regime.

Also, worth noting is the fact that your fetus is enclosed by the fluid in the amniotic pocket, which is nuzzled inside the uterus. This creates a rather secure environment for the growing baby; though it is still recommended that you stay away from high-impact exercise.

Benefits of Exercise during Pregnancy

Promotes Muscle Tone and Better Posture

Once you enter into the second and third trimesters of your pregnancy, you may notice muscle weakness accompanied by aching and overall fatigue. By increasing the seepage of oxygen and blood to the muscles, exercise can help you fight these symptoms. Exercise also helps strengthen the muscles and this helps with posture. Also, strong muscles mean that you will be able to manage breast sagging after breastfeeding.

Helps Relieve Stress

A lot of changes take place in a woman’s body during pregnancy that may cause her to feel overwhelmed and stressed. Studies show that exercise helps release endorphins (feel-good hormones) that help improve mood while reducing stress and anxiety.

Improves Sleep

While most pregnant women find it hard to fall asleep due to the increasing size of the belly that makes it harder to find a comfortable sleeping posture, those who exercise consistently have been reported to having quality sleep and waking up feeling more rested. It is, however important to ensure you don’t exercise near bedtime as this can be a bit energizing.

It May Help with Weight Management

It is common for pregnant women to add more weight than recommended. But, excess weight gain during this period has been linked to various complications, such as gestational diabetes. Exercise during pregnancy can help you prevent these complications! Ideally, a woman of average weight is required to gain around one pound per week during pregnancy. However, this average weight gain may be less or more depending on whether the woman has a higher or lower body mass index.

Helps you Deal with Labor Pain

This is a huge plus for pregnant women, as labor is expectedly not pain-free. Exercising during pregnancy helps in strengthening the muscles that help during labor and childbirth. Kegel exercises are especially beneficial as they help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles—these are muscles that support the bladder, uterus, and bowel. They help during labor, particularly when pushing out the baby.

What Exercises should you Perform During Pregnancy?

As a rule of thumb, if you engaged in a regular exercise routine before pregnancy, it is probably okay to continue to exercise when pregnant. There are so many workouts that are beneficial and safe to do while pregnant but, take precautions not to overdo anything. 

Always remember to talk to your doctor before you begin any exercise routine. If you have not been active for a long time, walking is a great workout to begin with. Walking is actually safe for everyone as it is easy on the body and joints, and doesn’t require extra equipment. You can also fit it into your busy schedule!

Experts agree that squatting during contractions may help open the pelvis, aiding in baby’s descent. So, you are encouraged to practice squatting during pregnancy.

Pelvic tilts help strengthen the abdominal muscles and relieve back pain during pregnancy. To perform pelvic tilts, get down on your knees and hands. Tilt the hips forward while pulling the abdomen in; your back ought to be slightly round. Maintain this position for a couple of seconds and then relax without allowing your back to sag. Repeat this a few times!

Exercises to Avoid During Pregnancy

  • Waist twisting exercises while standing

  • Intense workouts followed by long stretches of no activity

  • Exercises that are more likely to make you fall

  • Activities that require extensive bouncing, skipping, hopping, or jumping

  • Working out in hot, humid weather

  • Bouncing while stretching

  • Workouts that may lead to any abdominal trauma, including exercises with rapid changes in direction, jarring motions, or contact sports

Basic Guidelines When Exercising During Pregnancy

  • Workout on flat, level ground to prevent injury

  • Eat at least an hour before workout

  • Eat healthy foods

  • Wear loose-fitting clothes and a good supportive bra

  • Wear well-fitting shoes

  • Drink lots of water during, after, and even before your workout

  • After performing floor exercises, stand up gradually and slowly to prevent dizziness

Exercise during pregnancy is extremely beneficial to you and the growing fetus. Unless you have a medical condition such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease, it is perfectly fine to workout while pregnant, especially if you were active before. Of course, you should not forget to consult with your healthcare provider before starting a new exercise regime. Also, exercise may not be recommended if you have a weak cervix, low placenta, bleeding or spotting, recurrent or threatened miscarriage, and a history of early labor or premature births.

 

 

 

 

Published by Shahbaz Ahmed