Your physical body, just like any other living being, requires nourishment and an ample amount of care. What you consume, when you eat, how many meals you eat, how active you are, what you do to keep yourself active, how many hours of sleep you get, are all common questions you should ask yourself to introspect if you are giving your body what it needs.
Of all the things that we do for our body, exercise is one of the most important of them all. Exercise can be done for various reasons. Some might want to lose a few kilos to look a certain way, while others do it to get fitter and build stamina that allows them to do strenuous activities.Exercising regularly during your pregnancy can benefit both, the mother and child.
While most people have the notion that during pregnancy they ought to relax and avoid doing a lot of physical activities, science has proven that exercise during pregnancy benefits you in more ways than possible. it can reduce the risk of certain complications and also help you with body aches! If you’re worried about the excess weight gained during pregnancy, then this is one way to keep that in check as well.
It is also imperative to unlearn myths that dictate that exercising can increase the risks of miscarriages, premature births, or birth defects.
Is it safe to exercise during pregnancy?
One of the first things that to-be parents ask their medical healthcare professional is if exercise or any form of physical activity could be harmful to the mother or child. Exercising in moderation and practicing moves that are baby-friendly are entirely safe. A little bit of physical activity from time to time is recommended by most doctors. Age-old myths manifest you to believe that physical exertion can lead to miscarriages; however, over-stressing your body with excessive exercise results in fatigue and causes your body to strain to push blood around the body organs. However, the same exercise that you used to do before pregnancy can take around double the amount of effort and energy. To avoid pushing yourself too hard, consider talking to a fitness instructor before delving into it. This should make exercising during pregnancy safer and also gives the parents a sense of security.
When to avoid exercising during pregnancy?
Generally, the prerequisite to avoid exercising during pregnancy could be underlying health conditions like gestational diabetes, high BP, or asthma. Getting a sign of approval from your medical professional before beginning an exercise routine would be beneficial. Your doctor might give you specific tips to avoid worsening your medical problem or give you alternatives to counter that. However, you should stop exercising if you feel unusually exhausted, experience nausea, or have immense body aches. More severe problems that one may rarely face include vaginal bleeding, pelvic pain, inflammation or swelling, excessive breathlessness, and irregular palpitations. Under any of these circumstances, you should make sure to inform your doctor, even if they had pre-approved you to exercise. If you prefer going to the gym, let your instructor know about your pregnancy so that he/she can assist you with lighter exercises.
What are the benefits of exercising during pregnancy?
- Exercising regularly can help release endorphins (the “feel-good hormones”) that can boost your morale during pregnancy. It can also help relieve any kind of stress, anxiety, or depression.
- One of the most critical reasons doctors recommend regular exercise is to help counter backaches, body aches, and other common pregnancy discomforts which pregnant women go through, like constipation or cramps. Exercise is known to help with a healthy delivery and improve your endurance to help you with labor pain.
- Certain health conditions emerge during pregnancy, like gestational diabetes or preeclampsia, which might increase your child’s risk of being born early or with specific congenital disabilities. Regular exercise can reduce or almost eliminate the chances of high blood glucose or high blood pressure.
- You can avoid gaining excessive weight by doing moderately intensive exercises. This helps you regain your strength and physical body faster post-delivery.
- It fosters proper blood circulation throughout the body, boosting your energy level and making you feel fitter during pregnancy.
- Recent studies suggest that babies of mothers who regularly exercised during pregnancy had developed greater motor skills.
What kind of exercises can you do, and how intensive can they be?
It is essential to know what kind of exercises are safe to practice, how long you can do them, and how intensive they can be. Some women prefer guided yoga or pilates, while some might prefer going to the gym, dancing, or sports like swimming. If you know what you like best, go with that! Here is a list of what you can do to keep your body fit and active during pregnancy,
- If you find it too much of a task to adhere to a routine by yourself, you can sign up for prenatal exercise classes, wherein pregnant women are guided by a professional throughout. You can expect your exercises to be modified and lighter based on your pace and level of activity. These classes are also a great way to communicate and discuss common problems with your fellow to-be moms!
- Pilates is slowly gaining more attention and recognition as the preferred form of exercise for women. Pilates essentially is excellent for pregnant women as it is low impact and aids in flexibility,endurance, and strengthening, which are all vital for the mother. It also helps with back pain that could be caused due to the growing belly. Specific kegel exercises can also help in the natural delivery process.
- For a sense of peace and serenity, you can opt yoga. It is one of the most common forms of exercise for pregnant women, which is why most prenatal exercise classes focus on yoga, as it enhances breathing, blood flow and strengthens your core muscles. However, avoid doing intensive asanas towards the end of your pregnancy.
- An alternative to regular exercise is water aerobics. It helps keep your body cool while also making you feel lighter in water. It is recommended mainly in the third trimester of pregnancy. Be careful of mishaps like drowning or slipping to avoid further complications.
- Avoid abs training, major muscle building exercises, or weight lifting during your pregnancy, as excessive pressure on your core or pelvis can make you feel nauseous and cause considerable discomfort to the body, variably reducing your blood flow.
- Apart from the above-mentioned forms of exercises, you can also do light cardio. Using the treadmill or elliptical trainer are both safe options. Avoid heavy running and adhere to brisk walking for at least 30 mins.
- The recommended hours for exercising during pregnancy are around 2 to 2 and a half hours. You can do it in equal halves in either part of the day to help give your body some rest in between.
- Most doctors would recommend you avoid doing exercises that require you to lay on your back. This can cause pressure on your blood vessels and compromise blood flow to the baby.
- High-intensity training is not recommended as it tires you out a lot faster than usual and can cause nausea or give you a bloated feeling.
- If you’re on vacation and wish to go paragliding or scuba diving, avoid doing so. It can lead to the formation of harmful bubbles of gas in your baby’s body, also known as decompression sickness.
When can you start working out during pregnancy?
Essentially, you can start working out at any point during your pregnancy; however, the level of intensity, duration, and type of exercise would vary based on each trimester. As the belly grows bigger and the body’s weight increases, specific activities become riskier to practice.
In your first trimester, which is anywhere from 1-12 weeks from conception, you can do most of the exercises as you used to, pre-pregnancy. You can start your prenatal exercise classes for starters and slowly build a routine that suits you best.
Your body puts a lot more pressure on you to circulate blood flow throughout your body efficiently in the Second trimester, so it would be an excellent time to reduce the intensity of cardiovascular exercises.At this time, since your belly’s weight increases, specific postures that require you to lay on your back or turn upside-down would not be advisable to practice. You can continue brisk walking and moderately intensive exercises.
Your third trimester indicates you are closer to the delivery date; it also means you need to preserve as much energy as possible. Cardio exercises can still be continued, but at a much lighter intensity and pace than you did in the second trimester. Try doing more stretching and relaxing asanas to prepare your body for the birthing process at this time. Water aerobics is a great form of exercise to indulge in during this trimester, as it eases any possible stress on the joints and makes you feel weightless underwater. Weight lifting is a strict no-no!
Apart from regular exercise, eat and sleep right to ensure effectiveness. Wish you a happy and healthy pregnancy ahead!
This is general information, issued in public interest. Please contact your doctor for more details.