Staying active during pregnancy can make you stay healthy and feel your best. It is good for both, the mother and the baby.(1) It helps improve posture and reduces the chances of discomfort and fatigue.
Research shows that if a pregnant female exercises, the fetal heart rate is lower and the chances of baby with healthier birth weight, low-fat mass, improved stress tolerance, and advanced neurobehavioral maturation are increased.(2)
Types Of Exercises During Pregnancy
Any exercise during pregnancy should be done under proper guidance. The consulting gynecologist should also be informed and exercise should be started only if you receive an okay from the doctor.
There are a few exercises that can help prepare you for labor. They carry little risk of injury and benefit the entire body.
Brisk walking proves to be a good cardiovascular workout without putting too much impact on knees and ankles. It can be done almost anywhere, just make sure the path you walk on is smooth.
During pregnancy, the center of gravity changes, and the female can lose a sense of balance and coordination. This is why the surface should be smooth and potholes, rocks, and other obstacles should be avoided.
Swimming gives a better range of motion without giving much pressure on the joints.
Water offers buoyancy that gives relief from extra weight. Apart from swimming, water aerobics or aqua aerobics offers health benefits.
Choose strokes that you feel comfortable in and that do not strain your neck, shoulder, and back muscles.
Kickboard is a type of swimming stroke that can help strengthen leg and buttock muscles.
Follow the below-mentioned tips, if swimming during pregnancy:
- Hold the railing while entering the swimming pool to prevent slipping
- Do not jump or dive in the water, as it can impact the abdomen
- Avoid warm pools, sauna, and hot tubs to minimize the risk of overheating
Stationary cycling can be good cardio for beginners. It raises the heart rate without causing much stress on the joints.
The cycle supports body weight, as it is stationary. It also lessens the risk of falling.
For later pregnancies, higher handle band can be comfortable.
Yoga is good during pregnancy to maintain flexibility and help keep calm during labor.
It helps strengthens the muscles, stimulates blood circulation, and enhances relaxation. It can help keep the blood pressure levels under control during pregnancy.
As the pregnancy progresses, there are certain yoga poses that should be avoided.
During the second trimester, any yoga pose that demands, lying flat on the back or on the abdomen should be avoided.
Lying on the back causes the weight of the fetus and the uterus to put major pressure on the veins and arteries. This decreases the blood flow to the heart.
Overstretching should be avoided as it can lead to injury.
Low-impact exercises involve foot staying on the ground always. It excludes jumping, high kicks, leaps, or fats running.
These exercises limit stress on the joints, help maintain balance, and reduce the risk of weakening of the pelvic floor muscles.
A few aerobic classes are specially designed for women. There is an instructor who is specialized to meet their specific needs.
Squats and Pelvic Tilts
Both these exercises are specially designed to prepare the body for labor and delivery.
How to Squat: Stand with feet flat on the floor, back straight and shoulder-width apart. Lower yourself, keeping the feet flat and the knees not going forward than the feet. Hold in for 10-30 seconds and then slowly push up.
Pelvic Tilts: This exercise form strengthens the abdominal muscles and helps reduce back pain.
Go down on hand and knees. Tilt the hip forward arching the back and pulling the abdomen in.
Hold in for few seconds, then release and let the back drop. It can be repeated 10 times.
Benefits of Exercising During Pregnancy
Exercising and keeping active during pregnancy help:
- Shortens the duration of labor
- Decrease the chances of preterm labor or birth
- Increase the chances of an unmedicated birth
- Speed up the recovery post-delivery
- Reduces the chances of gestational diabetes and hypertension
- Gives the infant a healthier start
Before starting any exercise routine, consult your doctor. He can suggest personal exercise guidelines based on medical history.