Exercising during pregnancy
Exercise benefits women during their pregnancy; making them feel better, boosting energy levels, relieving aches and strengthening muscles.
Exercise can also prevent damage to the joints which become loosened during pregnancy due to hormonal changes and reduces the likelihood of constipation, exhaustion, stress and anxiety.
However, pregnant women must discuss exercise with their doctor to determine an appropriate exercise plan.
The level of exercise during pregnancy depends on your level of pre-pregnancy fitness; if you exercised regularly before becoming pregnant, continue your program, with modifications. Those who have exercised very seldom before pregnancy begin slowly and build up gradually. Generally, 2-and-a-half hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week is recommended.
Dancing, swimming, water aerobics, yoga, pilates, cycling and walking are recommended activities. Walking for a mile at a brisk pace, 3 days a week, is particularly advised, especially at the end of pregnancy.
If you were a runner before you were pregnant, you might be able to continue running during your pregnancy, although you may have to modify your routine.
Should you feel dizziness, fatigue, heart palpitations, shortness of breath or pain; your body is telling you it has had enough. It’s dangerous to overdo it- your baby can become over-heated, which can lead to birth defects.
After the first trimester, avoid exercises that require you to lie flat on your back. Also avoid bouncing, leaping, contact sports, skiing, scuba diving, horseriding and suddenly changing direction. Should you experience warning signs such as vaginal bleeding, chest pain, light-headedness etc, contact your doctor straight away.
Women are advised to practise Kegel exercises to help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and reduce incontinence (the leakage of urine) which is caused by the weight of the baby on the bladder. These exercises are easy to do and can be done anywhere – in your car, at the desk, standing, sitting on the couch etc. Just pretend you’re trying to stop the flow of urine and squeeze for a few seconds.
- If you’ve been inactive, start gradually. Even 5 minutes a day is a good start.
- Wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothes and a supportive bra.
- Drink plenty of water to avoid overheating and dehydration.
- If you don’t feel up to it, skip your exercises.
- Don’t exercise in hot weather. Try stick to air-conditioned places to avoid your baby becoming over heated.
- Avoid the sauna as the intense heat can cause dilation of the blood vessels causing you to faint and reduce the blood supply to the placenta.
What exercises are you trying out at the moment? Share your progress with other moms in the comments section below.