Exercise during Pregnancy: What You Can Do for a Healthy Pregnancy
Pregnancy is the time when your body goes through many changes. During pregnancy, you must prepare your mind and body for the delivery ahead. It is important for you to know that a fit body with strong muscles makes the delivery easy by giving you the stamina to endure pain. To achieve this, exercising is a must during pregnancy after considering all other health aspects.
Exercise during Pregnancy
Before starting any exercise regimen during pregnancy, you must consult your doctor. If you have any health problem, then exercise may adversely affect you and your baby. You must do some light exercise, only if your pregnancy is not complicated and you do not have any other health problem. Exercises done during pregnancy increase your stamina and prepare your body for delivery. It also helps in maintaining healthy body weight and prevents associated symptoms like body pains, backaches, varicose veins and constipation. Regular exercise lowers risk of preterm delivery, gestational diabetes and preeclampsia. Physical activities done during pregnancy improve sleep and self esteem, and lower risk of anxiety and depression.
Starting an exercise program
Before starting any exercise program you must take the advice of your doctor. When you exercise you must keep in mind that you should stop exercising, if you feel excess fatigue, shortness of breath, and pain. You must gradually increase the duration of the exercise. If you have been regularly exercising even before pregnancy, then you will find it easier to do exercise when you are pregnant. Aerobic activity of moderate intensity, each week for 2 hours and 30 minutes is recommended by the U.S Department of Health and Human Services for healthy pregnant women who have not been doing any vigorous exercise. You must exercise in the early morning or late evening during hot weathers to avoid getting over heated. Good ventilation and a fan are necessary to keep you cool. Drinking lots of water and eating a well balanced diet is very important. The conditions in which you must be careful not to overstrain is vaginal bleeding, early contractions, high blood pressure which is induced due to pregnancy, and when water breaks due to premature rupture of membranes (amniotic fluid around the fetus comes out early).
Types of exercise
The doctor will advice you on the type of exercise that is best suited for your body. The exercises or activities that are generally helpful during pregnancy are walking, swimming, water aerobics, pilates, stationary cycling, and low impact aerobics. Make sure that your body does not overstrain. Swimming is very soothing as it gives you a calming effect and a feeling of weightlessness that is appealing. A combination of flexibility exercises, strength, and aerobics (cardio) workout is advised. When you take up walking, go for a mile at moderate pace thrice a week. Gradually add few minutes to your walking duration every week. As you show progress in the coming weeks and your stamina increases, you can try going through routes with hills. This will increase your stamina further. Before any exercise routine a warm up for 5 minutes is essential where you stretch your muscles. Also a cool down for 5 minutes is a must after completion of your exercises to relax the muscles.
Exercises to be avoided
There are certain exercises and activities that you must avoid during pregnancy. You must avoid contact sports like basketball, soccer, and ice hockey. In downhill snow skiing, there is high risk of losing balance that is dangerous to the mother and child and so must be avoided at all costs. If you are exercising in a place that is around 6000 feet above sea level, you have the risk of suffering altitude sickness. It would be difficult for you to breathe and the oxygen supply to the baby is also decreased which can be harmful to the growth of the unborn baby. In activities like scuba diving, there is a large amount of pressure from water that falls on the baby causing decompression sickness (due to low pressure bubbles form in body and lodge in different parts causing serious complications). Horse riding should be avoided as there is lot of bouncing in it and also there is a risk of fall. All activities that have up and down movement, bouncing, sudden change of direction, and leaping should be avoided. In step aerobics, you must make sure that the step is of low height.
You must call your doctor immediately if you experience warning signs like heavy vaginal pain, abdominal pain, continuous contractions for 30 minutes even after you stop exercising, dizziness, headache, nausea, blurry vision, pain and swelling in calf region, and chest pain.
You must be motivated to do exercise regularly. You may exercise with a partner who could be someone from your family or friends. It is a good idea to listen to your favorite music while exercising to keep you going. Hospitals do conduct fitness classes for pregnant women which you can join. Remember that you are exercising not just for yourself but also for the wellbeing of your baby.