Bringing a child into the world is one of the most wonderful experiences a mother could go through. The months of going through a rollercoaster of physical, emotional and mental changes will all be worth it when you finally hold a miracle in your arms.
The road to childbirth, however, can be a challenging one. Much as one would train for a marathon or study well for a big exam, a mother must also prepare her mind and body for the arrival of her precious bundle. This means getting enough exercise, having a healthy diet and taking prenatal vitamins and minerals, if necessary.
The Benefits of Exercise
During pregnancy, it is best that moms maintain a certain level of physical activity. This will benefit not just you, but your baby as well. Studies have shown that expecting mothers who had regular aerobic exercise contributed to the healthy growth of the fetus and gave the baby a healthier start in life.
Other reasons to consider exercising while pregnant include:
- Exercise helps prepare the body for the physical challenge of labor and childbirth
- It regulates your weight during pregnancy
- It improves your mood, gives you energy and lets you sleep better
- It reduces the risk of developing gestational diabetes
- It aids in alleviating back pain and strain
- It prevents and relieves constipation
- It helps you with postpartum recovery and getting back to pre-pregnancy weight
Recommended Exercises for Expecting Moms
Ideally, the best exercises are those that keep your heart pumping and help keep your body limber. Over the course of your pregnancy, you may need to modify some exercises to adapt to your changing body. This means you will need to choose exercises that strengthen your muscles and improve your strength, posture and flexibility. It is also best if you find a workout routine that you enjoy as you may need to engage in it for at least three times a week (or more if you have the energy).
Here are five simple exercises that can help pave the road to a normal delivery:
This activity is one of the most recommended and is generally safe throughout pregnancy. You just have to be mindful not to overdo it and ensure that your doctor has given you the go signal to do so.
Walking increases your flexibility and tones your hip muscles, which will increase your chances of having a faster, easier and pain-free labor and normal delivery. It also reduces the risk of premature labor due to pre-eclampsia (a condition characterized by high blood pressure and an excessive amount of protein in the urine), morning sickness, fatigue, cramps, constipation and varicose veins.
If you are new to walking, start doing this activity 15 minutes a day at least three times a week. You can then work it up to 60-150 minutes in a week. If you were a fitness freak before conception, adjust your activity and shift to a low impact pace. Just listen to your body and do not push yourself too hard.
Once your baby bump gets bigger, you’ll enjoy the feeling of weightlessness in water.
Swimming is ideal for toning arms and legs, pumping up your heart and lungs, and strengthening your muscle. While doing this water activity keeps you fit, avoid getting into hot tubs and using bath salts at home, though. This is because soaking in hot water regularly can have negative effects on your baby’s health.
3. Yoga or Pilates
Combined with an aerobic activity that keeps your heart working out, doing pregnancy yoga or Pilates can help strengthen and tone your muscles, increase flexibility and improve your posture.
These exercises are also kinder to your joints compared to a more vigorous kind of exercise. It makes your body lithe and helps you with relaxation and breathing as well, which will be beneficial during labor.
It is advisable to enroll in a pregnancy yoga or Pilates class instead of just starting out with a DVD or online video. This will ensure that you have an experienced teacher who can guide you in performing the poses properly.
Another activity that can give your heart and lungs a good workout, dancing is an enjoyable exercise that you can do. If you are fond of dancing even before pregnancy, there’s no reason for you to stop doing so. Simply adapt your pace and avoid the more exuberant moves.
It best not to try out those jumps, twists, flips or anything that can make you lose your balance and fall. Make sure you consult your doctor first about adding dance to your workout regimen.
5. Pelvic Floor Exercises
This is one of the most useful exercises that you can do during pregnancy. Also called Kegel exercise (named after its creator, Dr. Arnold Kegel), this simple clench and release movement help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles.
For women, the muscles at the bottom of the pelvis sustain great strain during pregnancy. If you have weak pelvic muscles, activities like coughing, sneezing or even laughing can cause you to leak pee. It is then best to do pelvic strengthening exercises like the pelvic tilt (or Angry Cat ), the Cobbler or tailor pose, and squats.
Make sure that you prepare properly before you start exercising. Here are some things to take note of:
- Wear comfortable clothes and shoes.
- When working out, choose an area where the temperature is not too hot or too cold.
- Drink plenty of water. Always keep a bottle of water close by.
- Do some light stretching and warm-ups to get your muscles ready.
- As pregnancy progresses, your center of gravity also changes. Be aware of this and adjust to avoid back strains.
- Refrain from exercises that let you stand still for long periods of time. It will cause blood to pool in your lower limbs, which may cause swelling.
Healthy you, Healthy baby
Taking care of your unborn child also means that you have to take care of yourself. You want to be in tip-top shape while you are in the family way. As an expectant mom, the things you do to yourself will also translate to how your baby will react inside the womb.
Remember that doing these exercises will be for both your welfare. Just take care not to exert yourself too much, take precautions, heed your doctor’s advice, and enjoy the moment.
Gehana Kennedy is the owner of vitaminshop.ae, the go-to source for high-quality wellness products including a range of step-by-step formulated vitamins, fitness supplements and natural skin care products. With innovative ideas and implementation of new technologies, she was able to establish a platform that offers not only quality products but also valuable information for customers.