Pregnancy Exercises, Do? Don't Do?
Well, you'd certainly benefit from pregnancy exercises but at the same time you'd need to be careful as well.
This is because your body's changing - your center of gravity has shifted, you're carrying more weight and you tire more quickly.
You should therefore exercise with care and listen closely to your body.
A couple of other things you need to know as well:
- Even if you've never exercised before, as long as you get the green light from your doctor, you can safely start an exercise program. Start with low-impact exercises such as walking or swimming
- Consult your doctor before starting or continuing any exercise program.
And keep checking in with him or her as your pregnancy progresses to make sure you're modifying your program as necessary.
Sometimes pregnancy exercises are not recommended to protect your health, your baby or both. So don't take it as OK to keep the way you've always done the exercises
- Modify your exercise program from trimester to trimester
Other than these, I think pregnancy exercises are quite safe and gonna do you and your baby a whole lot of good.
The Benefits of Pregnancy Exercises
Studies have shown that if you exercise moderately and regularly, you'll experience fewer of the normal discomforts of pregnancy and you'll benefit from the sense of well-being regular exercise bring.
So let's see how prenatal exercises benefit you:
- Prepare you for childbirth by strengthening your muscles and building endurance and once your baby's born, they help you to get back in shape that much quicker and easier
- Exercise pumps up your heart, keeps you limber, manages your pregnancy weight gain and prepares your muscles for the hard work of labor and delivery without causing undue physical stress to you or your baby
- According to a new study, regular exercise may improve your chance for a timely delivery
What Types of Pregnancy Exercises?
You can do many types of safe, injury-free prenatal exercises such as:
Probably one of the best exercises for you as walking keeps you fit without jarring your knees and ankles. It also gets you out of the house and is a safe exercise for you throughout your pregnancy.
Swimming is hailed as one of the best and safest pregnancy exercises for you.
It's ideal because it exercises your large muscle groups (arms and legs), provides good cardiovascular benefits and makes you feel weightless despite your extra pounds of pregnancy.
And talking of swimming which lets you enjoy water, there's water exercise which really lets you enjoy cool, refreshing water cum safe, injury-free workout!
- Strength Training
Strength training is a great way to tone and strengthen your muscles, so don't stop doing it during your pregnancy.
One thing though, you'll need to avoid using heavy weights and assuming certain positions.
- Low-Impact Aerobics
If you can, sign up for a class for low-impact aerobics specifically designed for pregnant women. You'll feel reassured that each movement has been deemed safe for you and your baby.
Also, you get to enjoy the camaraderie of other pregnant women and exchange tips on exercise and pregnancy.
- Kegel Exercises
To strengthen your pelvic muscles, you should do Kegel exercises at least 6 times a day, by contracting your muscles around the vagina and urethra for 3 seconds 12 to 15 times in a row.
If you want to be sure, consult your doctor or hire a trainer who's trained to design exercise program for pregnant women.
If you're healthy with a normal pregnancy, you should exercise for 20-30 minutes, at least 3 times a week, complete with warm up and cool down and drink plenty of water.
During exercise, your pulse rate should be at 50% to 60% of your maximum heart rate or not more than 140 beats per minute.
You may have to modify the exercises due to changes in your balance, the increase in your blood volume (which can cause you to tire more easily), the presence of nausea/vomiting and other discomforts and weight gain.
As your pregnancy progresses, you may also need to reduce your levels of exercise to suit your condition.
Pregnancy Exercises - What Exercises to Avoid?
You should avoid highly strenuous exercises, those that require a keen sense of balance, and pregnancy exercises that may traumatize your uterus or abdomen.
These include sit-ups, push-ups, toe-touches, inline skating, ice skating, downhill skiing, horseback riding, water skiing, scuba diving, surfing and endurance events.
Highly strenuous exercises can be harmful if too much of your energy supply is going to fuel the exercises and too little is available for your fetus.
Also, your glucose levels drop more quickly with exercise because of fetal demands for glucose.
Hence, blood and oxygen supply to your fetus may be compromised when you exercise strenuously.
If you've not been exercising intensely before becoming pregnant, you shouldn't engage in overly strenuous exercises too as they can reduce fetal growth and increase your risk of preterm delivery.
During exercise, you should monitor your temperature to avoid overheating - a side effect that can damage your fetus.
Pregnancy Exercises - The Dos And Don'ts
The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology has developed the following recommendations for prenatal exercises:
- Exercise moderately and regularly unless otherwise advised by your doctor
- Concentrate on non-weight bearing exercises and those that don't require a keen sense of balance
- Wear loose-fitting, lightweight clothing that allows heat to escape and moisture to evaporate
- Drink plenty of water during exercise; also eat appropriately
- Adhere to a healthy diet and gain weight as recommended
- Exercise to exhaustion, stop when you're tired
- Exercise while laying on your back in the second and third trimester
- Exercise in hot, humid conditions
- Perform pregnancy exercises that may traumatize your abdomen or uterus or cause you to lose your balance
- Fast or exercise while you're hungry
Pregnancy Exercises - Watch out for Danger Signs
When you exercise, watch out for these signs and symptoms, precursors that you may have pushed too hard and approached danger zone:
- Vaginal Bleeding
Bleeding is cause for concern. If it happens early in your pregnancy, it could signal a miscarriage.
In your second and third trimesters, bleeding is associated with premature labor, placenta previa, or placenta abruptio, conditions that require immediate medical attention.
Call your doctor immediately.
- Increased Swelling In Your Hands, Feet And Ankles
Your feet and hands may puff up a little after exercise, but if you've more swelling than usual, you may have preeclampsia, a condition characterized by high blood pressure, fluid retention, and protein in the urine.
Since preeclampsia can severely restrict the flow of blood to the placenta, it can be quite dangerous for your baby.
Call your doctor if the swelling doesn't subside a few hours after cooling down.
- Blurred Vision
If you get blurred vision in the midst of exercising, you may be dehydrated, which sends your blood pressure plummeting and your heart into overdrive.
As a result, not enough blood may be flowing to your developing baby's vital organs.
It may also be a sign of preeclampsia.
Call your doctor immediately.
- Heart Palpitations
If your heart palpitates, or if you can't keep up a conversation with reasonable ease while exercising, you're probably working too hard.
Check your heart rate and make sure it doesn't go over 140 beats per minute.
You can get an easy-to-use heart-rate monitor here to check your heart rate.
Call your doctor if your heart continues to palpitate after you've cooled down.
- Sudden Change In Your Body Temperature
If your hands are clammy or you get hot or cold flashes, your body is having a hard time regulating its internal temperature, which can be harmful to your fetus as this will cause blood flowing to your uterus to be diverted to your skin as your body tries to cool itself off, putting your baby in jeopardy.
Call your doctor if your body temperature continues to fluctuate.
If you've nausea while doing pregnancy exercises, it means you may have built up too much lactic acid, a byproduct of muscle metabolism in your stomach.
Call your doctor if the nausea persists after you've cooled down.
If you've persistent dizziness/dizziness accompanied by blurred vision and headaches or palpitations, it can be a symptom of severe anemia or other serious illness that could affect your pregnancy.
Call your doctor if the dizziness continues after you've cooled down.
Fainting while doing pregnancy exercises or at other times during your pregnancy isn't something you want to take light of.
It could mean a simple thing like dehydration or a serious major circulatory problem. You may not be getting enough oxygen to your brain, which means your baby may not be getting enough either.
Call your doctor immediately.
- Sharp, Recurring Pain In Your Abdomen And Chest
This pain may just be due to your ligaments stretching, but it could also because you're having contractions.
Call your doctor immediately as you'll need to be hooked up to a fetal monitor so your doctor can check whether you're in labor.
What's your Verdict?
Do or don't do pregnancy exercises?
You know your body well enough to make a decision.
As long as you eat a healthy diet, gain weight at the recommended level and do moderate exercises, you'll be fine.
And your baby too.....
Plus the beauty of it all - you're in to have an easy pregnancy and a smooth labor and delivery.....
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