You may not have the energy to jump off the couch or willpower to tie your shoes, but staying active during your pregnancy will benefit you while carrying your precious cargo and post delivering your baby.
Breaking a sweat throughout your pregnancy has many positive results. Psychiatrist Dr. John Ratey explains that exercise helps lower your risk depression and reduces common side effects of pregnancy such as gas and heartburn. He also states that exercise lowers the risk of developing diabetes and hypertension.
Exercising while pregnant will also prevent you from gaining more than the recommended amount of weight, which can lead to complications during your pregnancy. Mandy Schutt suggests that exercising moms may actually help position their baby into the optimal birthing position. When the uterus is toned, moms have a higher chance of an easier, faster and more comfortable birthing time.
If you followed an exercise regimen before pregnancy, you can absolutely continue as long as you have been cleared by your healthcare provider. Nutritionist Dr. Del Millers explains that he has clients who run right up until they go into labor. He believes it is safe to continue high-level activities, even in your third trimester, as long as you are acclimated to it.
It is never too late to get moving, even if you weren’t active prior to pregnancy. It is healthy for you and the baby. Personal Trainer Tom Williams advises that increasing muscle mass, strengthening your connective tissue, and keeping your bone density up, all allow you to be stronger during your delivery. The key is to take it slow and build your endurance.
Physicians recommend exercising 30 minutes a day, 4 times a week. The intensity level of your workout should allow you to comfortably hold a conversation. However, make sure you are listening to your body. One of the most common mistakes women make, according to Williams, is not listening to what is going on, especially when you are carrying an extra 30 pounds.
<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/VFAHTIGnfDU" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
Below are suggested exercise activities you can try during your pregnancy:
- Walking (try an indoors mall if it’s too hot outside)
- Prenatal yoga
- Low-impact aerobics
- Taking the stairs, instead of the elevators
Besides cardio, women will want to strengthen their bodies to prepare for labor and birth. Millers suggests beginning with basic activities such as Kegels, contracting and releasing your pelvis. His favorite activity for his clients is squats because it opens the hips and the pelvis. Rocking back and forth on a stability ball also helps to open the pelvis. If a woman is experiencing back pain, positioning on all four and doing leg and arm lifts may alleviate the ache. Finally, modified dead lifts for the lower back is just as beneficial.
Though it is advised to exercise throughout your pregnancy, there are red flags you shouldn’t ignore. If you experience any of the following symptoms, suspend exercising and contact your physician immediately:
- Experience vaginal bleeding
- Feel faint, dizzy, nauseous or light-headed
- Have chest or abdominal pain
- Notice an absence or decrease in fetal movement
Try to stay away from exercises that require you to lie on your back after your first trimester – it affects the oxygen going to the fetus. Also, avoid contact sports such as soccer and basketball. Millers also recommends bypassing high-risk activities like gymnastics, skiing, and scuba diving.
If you aren’t motivated to exercise, ask your partner or a friend to join you. They will also benefit from the cardio and you’ll notice that time passes by quicker when you are immersed in a conversation. Before exercising, make sure to wear comfortable clothing and check that your sneakers provide enough support. Take a few minutes to warm up as well as cool down to avoid overexerting yourself. Also, drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated. Most importantly, listen to your body.