There are a lot of myths about pregnancy and exercising while being pregnant. It has long been believed that it was too risky to work out while pregnant because the baby would suffer damage and have birth defects. This is not true. As long as the mother is cautious and knows when and how to limit her activity, exercising and staying fit during pregnancy are beneficial for both her and the baby. Exercising can help with backaches, bloating constipation; can improve mood and relieve stress and will lower your changes of developing gestational diabetes.
The amount of exercise that a woman should do during pregnancy depends largely on whether or not she was physically active before pregnancy. The women who were not active and did not work out should work at a slower fitness level than women who was very active before pregnancy. ALL women should see their doctor before exercising during pregnancy; you might have an incompetent cervix or be having multiple children, both of which are good causes for you NOT to exercise, or at the very least limit the physical strain you exert on your self.
Women New to Exercising
Only about 20-30% of people exercise on a regular basis, so it is not a stretch to assume that most pregnant women were not very active before they were pregnant, but it’s not too late to start. If you are one of these women you will want to start out slowly and work up to maybe some light to moderate exercise sessions lasting 30 minutes for 3-4 times a week. If you find this amount of time difficult at first, start slowly adding five minutes as week each passes. You should note that you’re not trying to strain yourself to the point where it hurts or to where you cannot breathe normally. If you cannot carry on a conversation while exercising, you should slow down and not work as hard.
Some exercises that are good for you include taking brisk walks, swimming, water aerobics and yoga. These will help you stay fit and they won’t put too much strain on the baby or you. These exercises will strengthen the muscles supporting the uterus which relieves some of the pains of carrying a child; it also helps you prepare for the arduous task of delivering the child. Exercising is also shown to relieve stress and help people have a positive self image; both of these are good for pregnant women and help them control their mood and emotions.
- Swimming and water aerobics are ideal exercises for pregnancy. Not only do you feel 90% lighter when you are in water, but extra resistance from the water helps to build and tone the muscles in your body with less effort or strain.
- Yoga is also great for pregnant women. The stretching and breathing exercises help to prepare you for giving birth and teach you to calm and center yourself.
- There are also exercise classes made especially for pregnant women, these can help you by creating a comfortable atmosphere where there are people who are going through the same things as you are. It is also good to have an instructor there who knows what they are doing and can help ensure that you don’t hurt yourself or the baby.
Women Who Exercise Regularly
If you are one of the women who is very active, you should remain active just not as vigorously so. You may continue running but avoid over doing it. You body will let you know when you should slow down; listen to it. If you feel pain or discomfort, do not work through it like you would if you were training for a marathon. Again, you should be able to carry on a conversation while you are working out, if you are out of breath, this is a good sign that you need to slow down. Working out less is a good idea while you are pregnant, but you can still do moderate to strenuous exercises as long as you modify the way in which you do this. For example, if you like to lift weights, lift less weight but do more reps. Consult your doctor when you find out you are pregnant and map out a plan of some exercises that will make you feel good and also keep your baby safe from harm.
Overexertion While Exercising
Overexertion is something you need to avoid, because if you are over doing it, you are going to need more and more oxygen and you cut into your baby’s supply. In order to ensure that your baby is handling the extra effort you will want to make sure that they are kicking you about five times an hour (average for most babies) if they do not, don’t panic! Give it one extra half hour because the fetus has 20 minute sleep intervals and so they might not be kicking as often because of that. If the kicking stops altogether, you experience vaginal bleeding, membrane breakage or severe pain in you abdomen, you should cease physical activity and call or go to your doctor right away. Do not panic if your baby starts kicking harder after you exercise either. They are just reacting to the extra glucose and rush of oxygen that has been temporarily diverted because of the exercise.
Things to Remember While Exercising
- Drink lots of water, you need to make sure you stay cool and hydrated. Studies show that having a high core body temperature at the beginning of a pregnancy cause birth defects and dehydration later in the pregnancy can cause premature births.
- Wear light clothes that will absorb your sweat. When wearing tennis shoes or running shoes make sure that they have high supported backs to help you avoid foot or Achilles heel injuries. Your bras should be very supportive.
- Stop exercising immediately if you experience severe chest pains, vaginal bleeding or if your water breaks. Call or go to you doctor immediately so as to avoid any infections that could harm you and your baby.
- Stop using exercises where you lie on your back after the first trimester, or when you begin to feel dizzy or nauseous.
- Include a warm and a cool down when you exercise and stretch after you do.
- Avoid contact sports (football, hockey, base ball, etc), adventure sports ( rafting, scuba diving etc.) and any sports that might cause trauma like horse back riding or down-hill skiing.
- And, of course, remember that eating a well balanced diet will help you and your baby remain healthy and fit.