Is it really advisable to exercise during your pregnancy? While there are many different ideas and views, it is essential and advisable to have a proper idea of the subject before proceeding.
Pregnancy can be defined as the period in which a fetus develops inside a woman’s womb or uterus. The pregnancy period usually lasts about 40 weeks, or in other words, for 9 months. This period is calculated from the last menstrual period to delivery. The pregnancy period can be categorized into three segments of pregnancy, called trimesters.
This being the most straightforward description of pregnancy, it is essential to know how pregnancy occurs scientifically. A Pregnancy occurs when a sperm fertilizes an egg after it has been released from the ovary during ovulation. The fertilized egg then travels down into the uterus, where implantation occurs. A successful implantation results in pregnancy.
The events taking place inside the body of a woman during the pregnancy is incredible and amazing. This 40-week period is the most miraculous era of any human being’s life. If we ever happen to perform an ultrasound scan of the baby when it’s still 5 weeks or so, all that will be visible is a spot that will be about 1.5mm. This is supposed to be the size of a strawberry seed. So, isn’t it pretty amazing to be grown from the size of a strawberry seed to a healthy baby that weighs 7lbs?
The trimesters described above have been categorized mainly upon the development and various stages of the baby. The 1st trimester usually runs from week 1 to week 12. The 2nd trimester is then from week 13 to 28, and the 3rd trimester is counted off from week 29 to week 40.
Just as some significant changes take place in a woman’s body externally, so does it internally. The body of a pregnant woman goes through hormonal changes which affect her mood and behavior. So, this is where exercising becomes beneficial. Anyhow, exercising cannot be done as you prefer, as there are few tips to be followed while exercising during pregnancy.
What Exercises Can I do while pregnant?
Regular physical activity during pregnancy is essential because of its health benefits and it prepares your body for childbirth, which helps you immensely for easy delivery. Exercising or, in other words working out should take place strictly upon the advice of your gynecologist or midwife. It is also advisable to follow your pregnancy exercise routine under the guidance of an instructor to achieve better and safe results.
The best types of exercise for pregnant women help keep their muscles supple, assist in weight maintenance, and are generally low impact.
It would help if you considered few facts before you begin your pregnancy exercises. Firstly, if you did not exercise before pregnancy, then you need to start gradually. Do not get into strenuous moves, but you can start off with a 15 minutes’ workout just 3 days a week and gradually increase it to a 2 ½ hour workout per week.
In the beginning, you can try out swimming, brisk walking, water aerobics, and even yoga. After that doing a combination of aerobic and strengthening exercises will be beneficial to you.
Focusing on aerobic exercises, you can do indoor cycling, swimming, walking, and fitness classes conducted specially for expectant mothers. These exercises will help you not gain excess weight and support in cardiorespiratory fitness, which is the ability to take in and use the oxygen in your body.
Strengthening exercises include Resistance Training workouts, Pregnancy Yoga, and Pilates. These will be beneficial for better mental health, reduce back and pelvic pains, prepares your body for childbirth, and it also helps your body recover after delivery.
Now let’s focus on these exercises furthermore.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, swimming is said to be one of the safest forms of exercise during pregnancy. Although, it is important to note that water skiing, diving, and scuba diving are not safe, as they place pregnant women at an increased risk of injury.
Swimming is an exercise you could continue in all trimesters without any worries. Swimming is a low-impact form of exercise, so this will make your bones and joints feel better, and it will relieve ankle and foot swelling. Swimming will also help you relieve nausea, improve blood circulation, and helps you with a night of better sleep. Sleeping difficulties experienced during pregnancy is a known fact among women who have being pregnant even once in their lives. Also, water can be a great form of pain relief, particularly during pregnancy when you may experience swelling or discomfort due to weight gain.
While there are so many benefits of swimming, make sure not to be immersed in hot water and to avoid hot tubs at all times.
Walking is a great yet effective and simple way to be active during pregnancy if you have not exercised before pregnancy. When walking, you need to wear supportive shoes and comfortable clothes. Always stay on level ground and off dangerous paths, such as along a cliff edge. Having said that, sandy beaches are ideal to use for walking during pregnancy. You should carry water with you and drink it regularly. Consider shorter walks or walks with a shortcut you can take if you get tired, and it is also advisable to walk with someone rather than walking alone. Benefits of walking include weight control, lowering the risk of developing morning sickness, constipation, cramps, and varicose veins.
Pregnancy Yoga and Pilates
Pregnancy yoga focuses on gentle stretching, mental centering, and breathing techniques. Research suggests that prenatal yoga is safe. It can have many benefits for pregnant women and their babies. Pilates is, focusing on balance, strength, and coordination. It works on keeping the muscles throughout the body – upper body, lower body, and abdominal area; strong, toned, and connected to the core to reduce pregnancy aches and pains and help speed up postnatal recovery.
There are five amazing Yogasanas (postures) to be followed during pregnancy. They are the butterfly pose, triangle pose, cat pose/cow pose, mountain pose, and corpse pose. Benefits of pregnancy yoga include reducing stress and symptoms of anxiety and depression, helps your labor experience, and improves blood flow.
Pilates includes five amazing moves that can be practiced during pregnancy: side-lying inner & outer thigh move, kneeling alternating superman, kneeling plank, plié squat, and seated curl and press.
Benefits of Pilates include:
- Strengthening your stomach and gluteal muscles.
- Reducing back pain.
- Strengthening your pelvic floor.
- Controlling your breathing.
- Maintaining a healthy weight.
- Strengthening the legs.
While achieving many benefits through Yoga and Pilates, we strictly advise you that following these exercises should be done solely under the guidance of instructors, as there are specific exercises to avoid during pregnancy.
In addition to these, you can do stomach strengthening exercises, pelvic tilt exercises, pelvic floor exercises. These exercises strengthen your abdominal muscles and ease backache.
Tips to follow when exercising
- Always warm up before exercising and make sure to cool down afterwards.
- Always drink plenty of water
- Wear comfortable and suitable clothes such as appropriate shoes, a supportive maternity bra, and loose clothing.
- Do not do any strenuous exercises.
- When following all kinds of exercises, seek the assistance of an instructor and especially seek advice from your doctor or midwife.
Another crucial point you need to focus on is what kind of exercises you should avoid during pregnancy. Mainly, there are two types of exercise to prevent from doing: the type where you risk colliding with others, such as tennis, cricket, football, and netball. The second type is the type that risks you colliding with the ground, such as skiing, road cycling, skating, and horse riding.
Can you lose weight while pregnant if you exercise?
When focusing on your weight during pregnancy you need to think on several aspects. Firstly, losing weight should not be a priority while pregnant because if you do not follow proper steps and try to overdo things, it can harm your baby.
Remember you will gain less fat weight during your pregnancy if you continue to exercise. Therefore, do not expect or try to lose weight by exercising while you’re pregnant. Your goal is to maintain your fitness level throughout pregnancy. Anyhow, keeping a watch on your calorie intake will help you not gain excess weight during pregnancy.
Doctors at present encourage pregnant mothers to maintain and increase their exercise while pregnant. Unfortunately, most women don’t get enough exercise while pregnant, based on suggestions from older women. So, it’s time to let go of myths. With your doctor’s advice, instructor’s guidance, and the support of your spouse, start exercising with caution in order take great care of the baby in your womb.