Pregnancy usually brings a lot of things that should not be done to keep the mother and the baby healthy and one of them is exercise. But not all exercise routines should be avoided by women. In fact, exercising while pregnant can help a mother-to-be stay healthy and strong all throughout her pregnancy and during delivery. If you are now pregnant but have been doing regular exercise before, there is no reason for you to stop just because of your condition.
What are Safe Exercises for Pregnant Women?
Knowing what exercises to do while pregnant will help keep you and your baby safe especially during the first trimester or the first four months. Getting fit during pregnancy should be every pregnant woman’s concern and so, aside from eating healthy foods, exercising is also needed. During the first few weeks of pregnancy, there are not many physical changes in your body. However, this period is quite critical because the risk of losing the baby is high. Many miscarriages happen in the early stage of pregnancy because many women continue to engage in tasks that are strenuous. However, this does not mean that you should stay at home or in bed. Pregnancy and exercise should go together if you want to keep you and your baby healthy.
Actually, if you did not exercise in the past, now is the time to start so that you will have stamina during childbirth.
- The best exercise during the early part of pregnancy is one that does not require you to exert too much effort. Brisk walking is good because it improves circulation. If you live in tropical countries, do this early in the morning or early at night, not during the hot part of the day. If you live in cold countries, doing this exercise when it is cold will not do you much good. As you walk, breathe in the fresh air, enjoy the scenery, and think happy thoughts. This will also keep the baby inside you feel peaceful, safe, and healthy.
- Swimming is highly recommended exercise while pregnant. This is because it does not require lots of exertions. Water acts as great body support and prevents too much pressure on the spine and limbs. In fact, when you float, your body seems weightless and you can just relax and not make any movements at all. There is no danger of falling or having your stomach hit by hard objects, which can cause harm to the child. Also, always have a companion when swimming. Some physical changes may make you prone to cramps or dizziness while in the water. But just like other activities, do not overdo it. If you have been into competitive swimming before, avoid strokes that make you exert too much effort and too much movement.
- If you have been jogging regularly before you discovered that you are pregnant, you can continue doing it. It is a good exercise. As your stomach becomes bigger and heavier though, it might be difficult to jog briskly and to cover long distances. It will be best to switch to brisk walking as your due date approaches because moving could be difficult when you have a heavy stomach. During our prenatal visits to your doctor, it will be best to consult with him regarding the exercise routines that are good for you.
Working Out During Pregnancy
If you have been working out in a gym long before, there is no reason for you to stop doing it. However, to be on the safe side, try to make a workout plan with your doctor. There are workouts for pregnant women that will be good for you such as pedaling on a stationary bike. As your stomach grow bigger, your balance is affected and biking can be dangerous. You can fall while biking, which can be detrimental to you and the child. Weight lifting should be avoided, especially when you have to lie on your back to do it.
The position can cut off the supply of oxygen to the uterus and this could harm you and the baby inside you. Cardio exercises are highly recommended. However, your fitness level should always be the first consideration. Using the treadmill may do you good but if you feel you are not up to it, then, don’t drag yourself. Working out during pregnancy will keep you strong, healthy, and ready for your due date. Aside from aerobic exercises, pregnant women should develop their strength.
Giving birth would require all your strength. Ask any women who had borne a child and you will be told how giving birth have robbed them of their strength after the baby is out. To improve your stamina in preparation for your due date, doing Yoga will be of help. This exercise is known to enhance your stored energy and add more. However, do not do it in hot and stuffed places. Go to an air-conditioned gym for this workout. Pilates exercise for pregnant women helps tone your muscles and increase strength. Go for sessions designed for pregnant women for your safety.
Always consult your doctor before performing this because some of the workouts can be strenuous and may not give you the benefits you expect. Kegel exercise is recommended for women in their advanced stage of pregnancy and after birth. This activity helps strengthen the pelvic muscles, which acts as a support to your rectum, bladder, and uterus. The exercise centers on the pelvic floor and is very simple. All you need to do is to tighten those muscles as if you are trying to prevent urine from coming out. Doing this before and after delivering a baby will help you have easy labor and fast healing process after birth. Coupled with enough rest and sleep, plenty of water, and nutritious foods, exercise can do wonders during your pregnancy especially when done within the second trimester of pregnancy and beyond.
What Not to Do When Pregnant
Pregnancy brings lots of changes to your body and the things that you used to do may be avoided until the time you have delivered your child. Getting fit is of utmost importance and when pregnant, exercise is the best way to achieve excellent health. Some exercises are good while others can be harmful to you and to your baby. Here are some of the exercises to avoid when pregnant.
- Exercises that require you to maintain balance such as biking, skiing, ice skating, and horseback riding should be avoided even if you are not experiencing any complications in your pregnancy. These activities can put you at risk of getting involved in accidents such as falling or stumbling down. Getting injured will surely affect the well-being of your child. Directly hitting the ground in your stomach will result in high impact that can cause harm to your child. Such accidents can easily result in miscarriage.
- Among other activities to avoid especially during the later months of pregnancy are running, gymnastics, some workout routines, and contact sports. Even if you have been a runner before you got pregnant, you should stop doing it when your stomach is already big. You can just imagine the pressure on the baby inside your womb when you run. Likewise, you will also feel the discomfort of carrying heavy weight while running. Because of your big belly, your movements can be awkward. You are at risk of falling to the ground, which can hurt you and your child.
- Gymnastics is an activity that pregnant women may not engage in. This activity is strenuous and several events can be harmful to the mother and the child. Flying gymnastics, for example, may be something you excel in but when you are with child, engaging in it is highly dangerous for you and your baby. Bouncing, jumping, tumbling, and diving movements are considered hazardous for women who are carrying a child.
- Contact sports such as basketball, baseball, and volleyball, as well as lawn tennis and table tennis, are not good for pregnant women. Ball games are contact sports, meaning the player can be pushed, hit or kicked. Being hit in the stomach can endanger the child in your womb. Also, you can trip or slide, resulting in a bad fall that can affect your baby and yourself. Also, when already 6 months or more pregnant, activities that involve lying on your back should be avoided. This position impedes the flow of oxygen to the uterus, which can harm the baby inside your womb.
- Even if you are performing exercises that are considered safe and beneficial women, you are advised to visit your doctor when you experience dizziness, excessive muscle pains, blurred vision, vomiting, difficulty in breathing, and irregular heartbeat. They may be signs that something is wrong with you and your baby and thus, consulting the doctor will be to your interest. These symptoms are experienced by women suffering from preeclampsia. Going to the doctor will determine cause of those signs.
Can Pregnant Women Do Squats?
Some people may advise you against squatting because they believe that it can lead to premature birth. However, doing squats is highly beneficial to pregnant women. Here are some benefits of doing squats:
- It strengthens the floor muscle of the pelvis. This muscle provides support to the uterus and contributes to giving birth. Squats make it well-toned and strong so that it can properly perform its function.
- It reduces back and pelvic pains. When you are already 6 to 9 months pregnant, carrying the weight of your baby can cause back and pelvic pain that can be unbearable at times. By doing squats, you exercise those muscles and tone them. The squats can help reduce the muscle aches that are suffered by many pregnant women.
- Doing squats prepares you for labor. Usually, women prefer the squatting stance when in labor. It seems easier and faster to give birth when in this position.
- It is a good exercise before and after giving birth. Squatting strengthens the muscles in your buttocks and keeps it in excellent condition. Women who have several children tend to have sagging buttocks. By doing squats several times a day, you can look forward to great looking buttocks regardless of the number of times that you have gotten pregnant.
- Allows for excellent position when giving birth. Many women would prefer to squat during labor. This position opens the pelvic bone wider so that the baby can easily pass through. This means easier and shorter labors. However, there are situations that can make doing squats hazardous.
- When the baby is not yet in the proper position in the birth canal, squatting can pull it down farther. When it is not yet positioned properly, this situation is not favorable because it might take longer than normal for the child to come out. Women are usually advised to lie down and relax to give time for the baby to position itself properly. Don’t squat until the baby has turned and aligned itself to the birth canal.
- When you experience pain but you know that it is not your due date yet, avoid the squatting position. This can result in premature deliveries, which is dangerous for you and for your child. Lie down and relax until the pain subsides.
- Squatting can induce labor. If your doctor tells you to avoid doing squats, follow his advice for your safety and that of your baby.
You don’t need to give up exercising when you are pregnant. However, you should know which exercises are good for you and which are not. You can go to the gym for workouts as long as you avoid exercises that are strenuous or dangerous. When exercising and you feel some pains or discomforts, talk with your doctor right away. For all you know, you might be experiencing symptoms of preeclampsia, a complication experienced by pregnant women only. Early detection will give you the chance to observe precautionary measures to prevent the full development of preeclampsia. Disregarding the signs can lead to eclampsia, which can be severe and sometimes, fatal.