Pregnancy is filled with mixed emotions and fluctuating hormones. It also comes with a long list of do’s and don’ts. From what you can eat, to how you can sleep. One thing is for certain, eating healthy and staying active are very important and reduces other health risks during pregnancy. The recommended amount of exercise is 30-minutes a day, for most days of the week. When trying to stay active and fit, the overall consensus is to do what’s comfortable for you and your body.
If you are an avid workout mama you can continue doing your routine until your body gives you signs to adjust or tone it down; just consult your doctor before starting any new routines. If you are just starting out and need some ideas of safe, low impact, exercises to keep you moving, VSGCommunity.com found the following possibilities.
Prenatal yoga is a great exercise during pregnancy. It’s a low impact activity that aids in stretching and teaches breathing techniques that can be used during labor. Yoga can also improve your overall mental health through the use of relaxation techniques and strategies to manage tension and stress. Yoga has also been shown to help with round ligament pains in your stomach, as well as back pain, as it helps strengthen your core muscles. When doing yoga try not to lay on your back for extended periods of time after the first trimester as this can restrict blood flow to you and your baby. Most prenatal yoga classes take this into consideration when planning poses. Avoid hot yoga as overheating can cause health problems for you and your baby. Look into your local yoga facilities to see if they offer prenatal yoga; it’s also a great way to connect with other soon to be moms and grow your support network. If you prefer to be in the comfort of your own home, there are many different DVDs to choose from!
Not all water activities are considered safe during pregnancy; scuba diving or water skiing for example. Scuba diving puts your baby at risk for decompression sickness while water skiing has an increased risk of abdominal trauma when falling. Swimming and water aerobics are considered safe and beneficial. Exercising in water decreases stress on ligaments and joints, basically eliminates risk of falling, reduces swelling, and decreases the risk of overheating. Fitness centers and the YMCA are great places to check out when looking for water activities that will fit your needs.
Walking is a no-brainer! Walking is low impact and has limited risks compared to running. When walking, you want to make sure you stretch and don’t try to walk a marathon your first time. Overdoing it can send much needed blood flow and oxygen to your muscles which means less for the baby. Wear comfortable and supportive shoes to decrease pressure on your feet; as well as, loose and breathable clothes to avoid overheating. If you prefer running, and it was part of your routine before becoming pregnant, it is safe to continue. If you want to add running to your routine, talk with your doctor before doing so. Make sure to stay hydrated!
Though this doesn’t help with full body fitness it can be important for labor and healing afterward. Kegel exercises strengthen the muscles used during labor and help you gain more control over the muscles that support the bowels, uterus, and bladder. This aids in maintaining bladder control and decreases chances of hemorrhoids while pregnant. After giving birth, kegel exercises can promote bladder control, perineal healing, and strengthening of your pelvic floor muscles. The best part is this doesn’t take much effort and you can do this anywhere with no one knowing!
Biking helps reduce the stress on your body as the bike does most of the supporting instead of your feet and joints. There is less risk when using a stationary bike as you are less likely to fall than biking on a trail or road. So biking at your local gym or buying a stationary bike for your home may be a better and less risky option. Biking may become more difficult as your belly grows, becoming uncomfortable when leaning forward.
Exercise is not a one size fits all thing. Find what fits you and your lifestyle. There are several exercises that are best to avoid. These include exercises that have a lot of twisting or jumping, increased chance of falling, intense contact sports, high temperatures, or requires laying on your back for extended periods of time. It is best to ask your doctor if you are unsure if an exercise is safe or not.
If you are just starting an exercise routine, or you haven’t exercised in a long time, remember not to push yourself too hard. One way to test this is to have a conversation. If you are unable to hold a conversation while you are exercising you are probably pushing yourself. Listen to your body. If you are experiencing headaches, dizziness, contractions after you have rested, chest pain, uneven heart rate, fluid leaking or vaginal bleeding, stop exercising and contact your doctor. Build yourself up to 30 minutes by starting out with 10-minute routines to decrease any risks.
Staying motivated, especially in the first trimester, can be difficult with fatigue, nausea, and vomiting. To stay motivated, don’t push yourself too hard, set realistic expectations, find people to exercise with you, and when participating in group classes build friendships within the class. Remember, staying healthy and exercising during pregnancy has several health benefits; such as decreased risk of gestational diabetes, reduction in back pain, increased mood and energy, reduction in swelling and constipation, better sleep, and aids in preparing for labor and delivery. Having the energy to do daily tasks can be daunting but starting with 10-minutes, 2 or 3 days a week, could help improve your energy, health, labor, and recovery in the long run.