If you maintain a regular exercise routine throughout your pregnancy, it can help you stay healthy and feel your best. It can not only improve your posture but decrease some common discomforts like fatigue and backaches. In addition, there is evidence that pregnancy exercise might prevent gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that develops during pregnancy. Moreover, exercise can also relieve stress and can build more stamina needed for your labor and child delivery.
If you were physically active before your pregnancy, you should easily continue your activity with slight modifications during pregnancy. You can continue exercising at your former level as long as you are comfortable. But you should take your doctor’s approval. During this period, your doctor will encourage low-impact aerobics compared to high impact. In addition, you need to ensure that your heart rate does not exceed 140 beats per minute.
Suppose you have never exercised before there is nothing to worry about. You can safely begin an exercise program during pregnancy after consulting with your doctor.
Pregnancy Exercise for Normal Delivery
The more fit and active you are during pregnancy, the easier it will be for you to adapt to your weight gain and changing shape. Exercises during pregnancy (especially when you have early signs of pregnancy)will also help you to cope with labor. Moreover, it can help you get back into shape after your childbirth.
You can keep up your normal daily physical activity or exercise for as long as you feel comfortable. These could include sport, yoga, running, dancing, or even walking to the store and back. Your exercise is not dangerous for your baby. There is evidence that proves that active women are less likely to experience problems in later pregnancy and especially during labor.
Less stressful antenatal exercises can help reduce your back pain, prevent excessive weight gain, and make labor easier. Lastly, it can help you recover faster after childbirth. If exercising has always been a part of your life, then you should be able to continue working out also during pregnancy.
If you are just beginning your physical activity, start slowly. You can begin a 15-minute walk and gradually work your way up to maybe 45 minutes every day. Walking for about 30 minutes might be one of the safest exercises for pregnant women because it has a low impact. Make sure you wear loose-fitting clothes and comfortable shoes for easy movement.
Walk at a normal pace but walk briskly at a level that you consider comfortable. Try swimming or water aerobics if you have access to a pool; water exercises are a good option to help relieve the pressure on your back. You can also sign up for an antenatal class that will help you stay flexible. You also need to reduce stress through various poses and breathing exercises during this tenure.
Tips for Pregnancy Exercise
Do not exhaust yourself while you exercise during pregnancy. You may also need to slow down as your pregnancy progresses or if your doctor advises you to do so. If in doubt, consult your doctor immediately.
As a general rule, you should be in a position to hold a conversation as you exercise when pregnant. If you become breathless as you talk – that means you are probably exercising too strenuously.
In case you were not active before you got pregnant, do not start exercising suddenly. If you start an aerobic exercise program, tell your instructor that you are pregnant. And in the beginning, exercise for not more than 15 minutes of continuous exercise, thrice a week. You can Increase this gradually. Remember that your exercises do not have to be strenuous to be beneficial.
Exercise tips when you are pregnant:
- Always warm up before exercising and cool down afterward.
- Try to keep yourself active daily. Thirty minutes of walking each day can be enough for pregnant women. But if that is more for you, any amount is better than nothing.
- Avoid any strenuous exercise if the weather is hot.
- Drink plenty of water and other fluids.
- If you attend exercise classes, make sure your teacher is trained properly.
- You can try swimming during pregnancy because the water will support your increased weight.
- You should avoid exercises that have a risk of falling, like horse riding, downhill skiing, ice hockey, and cycling, which should be done with caution. Falls could be dangerous as they carry a risk of damage to your baby.
Pregnancy Exercise – Who Should Not Exercise?
Any healthy person can start exercising during pregnancy. Do not try a new, strenuous activity. Normal walking and swimming are considered safe to start when pregnant. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day. You can exercise most of the days of the week unless you have a medical or obstetric complication.
In addition, if you have a medical problem, such as heart disease, asthma, or uncontrolled Type 1 diabetes – exercise may not be advisable. Exercise could also be harmful if you have an obstetric condition such as bleeding or spotting. Or, if you have a weak cervix, your doctor might tell you to avoid any movements or exercises that put pressure on the cervix.
You should avoid aerobic exercise during pregnancy if you any of the following conditions:
- Hemodynamically significant heart disease
- Incompetent cervix/cerclage
- Restrictive lung disease
- Multiple gestations at risk for premature labor
- Persistent bleeding during the second or third trimester
- Placenta previa after 26 weeks of gestation
- Any kind of ruptured membranes
- Premature labor during the current pregnancy
- Pregnancy-induced hypertension
Take precautions with aerobic exercise during pregnancy if you have any of the following:
- Severe anemia
- Chronic bronchitis
- Poorly controlled type 1 diabetes
- Extreme morbid obesity
- Extreme underweight (BMI <12)
- History of an extremely sedentary lifestyle
- Poorly controlled hypertension
- Poorly controlled seizure disorder
- Heavy smoker
- Poorly controlled hyperthyroidism
Consult your doctor before beginning an exercise program. Your doctor can offer personalized exercise guidelines based on your medical history.
What Exercises Are Safe During Pregnancy?
Most exercises are safe to perform during pregnancy if you have no complications. As long as you exercise with caution and do not overdo the exercises.
Among the whole list, the safest and most productive activities are brisk walking, swimming, indoor stationary bicycling, and low-impact aerobics. These activities carry very little risk of injury, benefit your entire body, and can be continued until childbirth.
Playing tennis can be considered safe. You can do other activities such as running or jogging in moderation. During this period, you may want to choose activities and exercises that do not require great balance or coordination. Especially later in pregnancy, you should not strain yourself and follow easy practices.
What Should Pregnancy Exercise Program Consist of?
If you are pregnant, try to include exercises in your daily routine. These types of activities will strengthen your muscles so that you carry the extra weight of pregnancy. These exercises will also make your joints stronger. In addition, they ease backache, improve circulation, and generally help you feel well. If you want total fitness, an exercise program should strengthen and condition your body muscles. You can also try Kegel exercises to increase the strength of your pelvic floor muscles.
Always start by warming up for few minutes and stretching for few minutes. Include at least fifteen minutes of cardiovascular activity. You should measure your heart rate at times of peak activity. Your heart rate may range from 140-160 beats per minute during activity. You can try doing an aerobic activity with about ten minutes of gradually slower exercise and end with gentle stretching.
Here are some basic exercise guidelines you should follow while exercising:
- Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothes.
- Choose shoes that are designed for the type of exercise you do. Proper shoes could be your best protection against injury.
- Exercise on a flat surface to prevent injury.
- You should consume enough calories to meet the needs of your pregnancy. Three hundred more calories per day than what you were having before.
- Drink plenty of water before, during, and after your workout.
- Finish eating at least an hour before exercising.
- After doing floor exercises, stand up slowly to prevent dizziness.
- You should never exercise to the point of exhaustion. If you think you are stressed, slow down your activity.
What Physical Changes Might Affect Your Pregnancy Exercise?
Physical changes during pregnancy generally create extra demands on your body. Keep in mind the changes discussed below. Remember that during pregnancy (or when you have pregnancy symptoms), you need to listen to your body. And adjust your exercise routine and activities as necessary.
Your developing baby and other internal changes happening in your body require more oxygen and energy. The hormones produced during pregnancy often cause the ligaments that support your joints to stretch. As a result, it increases the risk of injury. The extra weight and the uneven distribution of your weight together shift your center of gravity. This affects your balance to some extent.
Your added weight also puts stress on your joints and muscles around the lower back. Your lower back and pelvic area carry extra weight, which might make you lose your balance. Exercising daily will helps you cope better with your pains and aches of pregnancy and help build up stamina you will need during labor. So make sure you do not neglect it!