Exercise during pregnancy is something many women think about but hardly do. Excuses to avoid exercise vary—no time, it is boring, lack of energy, it may cause harm to the baby etc., are some of the common ones.
But the fact remains that exercising during pregnancy has a positive impact on both the baby and the mother.
Here are some reasons why you should get moving
Exercise for energy
Pregnancy can deplete energy. Exercises such as walking strengthen and tone the muscles and rejuvenate women to carry on with their day-to-day tasks with lesser strain. Additionally, exercise improves overall blood circulation and keeps energy levels high.
Exercise for easier labor
Childbirth is a difficult process and exercise during pregnancy will help increase flexibility, endurance, and muscle control which are necessary for labor and delivery, thereby helpful in easier labor.
Benefits of exercising
Improves muscle tone and strength.
Improves immunity to ward off infections.
Helps the mother have a relatively easy labor.
Helps mother to get back faster to her pre-pregnancy shape after childbirth.
Exercise to reduce pregnancy-associated discomfort
Pregnancy is accompanied by minor aches and pains. Exercises such as muscle stretches, walking, swimming etc., strengthen various parts of the body like the back and abdominal muscles.
Exercise to prepare you and your body for birth
Strong muscles and a fit heart can greatly ease labor and delivery. Gaining control over your breathing can help you manage pain. And in the event of a lengthy labor, increased endurance can be a real help.
Muscle groups that are most important to exercise during pregnancy
The three muscle groups that a pregnant woman should target are:
Abdominal muscles: Strengthening of these muscles will make it easier to support the increasing weight of the baby.
Pelvic muscles: Strengthening of these muscles will permit the Vagina to widen more easily during childbirth and also prevent urinary problems (leaking urine when you cough or sneeze) after delivery.
Back muscles: Strengthening of back muscles will improve the posture and minimize the strain of pregnancy on the lower back and help prevent discomfort caused by poor posture.
Exercise to reduce stress
Pregnancy is a mixture of elation and anxiety and pregnant women often find themselves swinging from one to the other, which can be quite stressful.
Physical exercises increase mood-elevating chemicals in the brain and thereby reduce pregnancy-related blues.
Exercise to look better
Exercise increases the blood flow to your skin, giving you a healthy glow.
Mild stretch exercises
Tips for a healthy exercise program
Start with mild exercises.
Wear comfortable exercise footwear that gives strong ankle and arch support.
Wear a good fitting support bra to protect your breasts.
Choose exercises that do not cause pain or increased tiredness.
Take frequent breaks and drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.
In case of shortness of breath or tiredness, rest immediately.
Relax and stretch before and after exercises.
Eat a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables and carbohydrates.
Make it slow; take it one at a time.
Lifting weights above the head and exercise that strain the lower back.
Exercising in hot surroundings.
Exercising on unstable or uneven surfaces.
Hard contact sporting activities.
Exercising while lying flat on the ground as this reduces blood supply to the womb
If you plan to start on an exercise program, it is important to seek the advice of a doctor and practice certain safety guidelines, before beginning to exercise.