Fitness and wellbeing during pregnancy is a very important part of a healthy motherhood. Exercise will contribute to the health of both mother and baby, not only during pregnancy, but after birth. Before you start a pregnancy and wellbeing programme, it is best to check with your doctor. The most important aspect of exercise during pregnancy is safety, the well-being of both mother and baby. By listening to your body, you will be able to feel what exercises and at what intensity is best for you. If any movement feels uncomfortable or strained then it is not advisable to continue what you are doing, and instead make modification to the exercise or intensity if necessary.
In your regular pregnancy fitness exercise program, it is beneficial to include muscle and endurance building exercises. Muscles that should be focused on during your pregnancy fitness programme include: the chest and shoulders, back, abdominal region, pelvic floor muscles and buttocks. Stretching exercises should include the thighs, lower back, calves and hamstrings. During the third trimester of pregnancy, it may be required to lower the intensity of the exercise program, especially if breathing or shortness of breath occurs.
For pregnancy wellbeing healthy eating is essential to keep up with the caloric demands placed upon the body from the pregnancy itself as well as the calories burned due to exercise. It is advised to consume snacks before and after exercise in order to keep blood sugar levels balanced. Remember to stay well hydrated at all times. You may wish to wear clothing that is breathable and light in order to prevent becoming overheated as you exercise. Be cautious to not engage in any activities that could cause trauma to the abdominal region. You should not be exercising for the purpose of losing weight when you are pregnant.
Do not restrict your breathing in any manner, so as to not compress the lung space; therefore you should avoid sit-ups and bending with the head down in a forward direction. After the first trimester of pregnancy it is best to avoid lying down on the back; the uterus is enlarging and blood flow should not be restricted by such a position. Avoid exercises that may overload or strain the joints which are already forced to bear extra weight due to weight gain and hormonal changes that effect joint mobility.
These movements include twisting and jarring, especially on the hip and pelvis joints. Ability to balance is also reduced during pregnancy due to the changes in the body which shift the center of gravity. Relaxing exercises, like yoga, are good for both mother and baby. By following a regular program you will improve your health and feel better at all stages of the pregnancy. You will experience a reduction or relief of pregnancy symptoms and enjoy a feeling of overall wellness due to the many positive benefits of exercise. By following these simple suggestions you will not place yourself or the health of your baby at risk.
Saffron Kirwan Heneghan www.bumpbabyandbeyond.com
Saffron Kirwan Heneghan is a member of the Irish Reflexologist Institute and the International Association of Infant Massage. She is a qualified reflexologist (including maternity reflexology), Infant Massage instructor, Birthlight Pregnancy Yoga teacher and Children’s Yoga teacher.