Our Guide To Safe Exercise In Pregnancy

Pregnancy is no reason to turn into a couch potato! Here’s what you should and should not include in your pregnancy workout.

There was a time when pregnant women were advised complete bed rest throughout pregnancy.

However, there is now an overwhelming amount of scientific evidence that healthy exercise during pregnancy is healthy – for mommies and their babies! Exercising during pregnancy helps to manage gestational diabetes and lower C-section rates.

A recent study found that babies born to women who exercised for just 30 minutes a day for 3 days a week had better heart health than babies born to women who did not exercise.

Similar studies on the benefits of maternal exercise on infant health show that babies born to the mothers who exercised had more mature brain function as compared to those born to women who were less active.

Thank you Whattoexpect.com for this brilliant information

What every mum needs to know about pregnancy workouts

Moms who are used to intense workouts may find it hard to dial back but pushing yourself to the point of exhaustion can reduce blood flow to your uterus.

On the other hand, if you’ve led a sedentary lifestyle for years but now feel motivated to get healthy for the sake of your unborn baby, HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) is not for you!

When it comes to exercising during pregnancy, moderation is the key. It is important that you talk to your ob-gyn before you start any pregnancy workout routine.

Exercising during the first trimester

Exercising during the first trimester will reduce morning sickness as well as improve your sleep quality and overall mood.

Your body is just starting a miraculous 9-month journey so don’t push your limits. Start your first trimester exercise routine with stretches followed by 10-15 mins of cardio at a low pace on your treadmill.

Never skip your warm up and cool down routines.

What to include:

Prenatal exercise is considered to be the perfect pregnancy exercise as it provides a gentle but complete workout that improves physical and emotional well-being. You can start a prenatal yoga plan at any point in your pregnancy but it would be best to start it in your first trimester. You can also include light resistance training in your plan.

What to avoid:

Heavy weight training is a strict no-no as it puts too much stress on your cardiovascular and musculoskeletal system. You should also skip contact sports and high-impact sports as these will put you at risk for abdominal trauma.

Exercising during the second trimester

You can continue with your exercise routine through your second trimester but you will need to take a few precautions. This is because your body produces hormones during the second trimester that begin to loosen the ligaments and joints around your pelvic region in preparation for labor. This increases your risk of joint injury especially if you do any exercise that requires a quick change of direction.

What to include:

You can continue with your prenatal yoga routine through your second trimester as yoga is very gentle on your ligaments and joints. Swimming is also a good second trimester exercise as the water helps to relieve the strain on your body. Include 1-2 sessions of 30 minutes each week and once you are comfortable with this, you can increase it to 3-4 sessions a week. Do not increase the duration of your swim sessions as this could put a strain on your system. You can also include pilates in your exercise plan but limit it to just once a week.

What to avoid:

Most women gain 1-5 pounds during their first trimester but this increases to 1 pound a week during the second trimester. The rapid weight gain often prompts women to take up weight loss exercises during the second trimester of their pregnancy. However, weight loss exercises are not advisable during pregnancy as they can have an adverse effect on your baby’s health. Sing one round of ‘Happy Birthday’ in between your sets – if you run out of breath while singing, it would indicate that you are pushing yourself too hard and you will need to slow down.

Exercising during the third trimester

Up to 60 percent of all pregnant women experience diastasis recti which is the development of abdominal separation as a result of the growing uterus. This means that you should avoid abdominal strengthening exercises during your third trimester and instead stick with low-impact exercises such as walking.

What to include:

Walking is one of the simplest and safest exercises during the third trimester of pregnancy. Aim for a 30-min walk for at least 5 days a week. Pool exercises are also a good way to stay fit and healthy during your third trimester as the buoyancy of the water supports your body and helps to take stress off your joints and muscles. Pool exercises such as the scissors leg stretch help to strengthen the muscles of the groin and lower back which play a key role during delivery.

What to avoid:

By the third trimester, your uterus is quite heavy as your baby weighs approximately 10 pounds. Lying on your back can pose a health risk as your uterus can put weight on the vena cava (which is the vein that runs blood from your legs back to your heart) and impair blood circulation to the lower half of your body as well as your baby. Avoid all exercises, including yoga poses that require you to lie on your back for more than a few minutes at a time.

While the benefits of exercise during pregnancy are indisputable, it is important that you are aware of the warning signs while exercising during pregnancy.

If you experience dizziness, headaches or chest pain, stop exercising immediately. Contact your ob-gyn if you notice amniotic fluid leakage, vaginal bleeding or difficulty breathing prior to exertion.

Discuss your workout routine with your doctor and keep her informed of any changes to your regimen. If you wish to increase the duration or intensity of your workout, make sure that you do so in a slow and gradual manner as this will allow your body to adjust to the changes.

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