Exercising during pregnancy
Taking the right kind of exercise during pregnancy can be beneficial for your mood and physical health. But what kind of exercise is best and how much is too much?
In the past, it was common for doctors to tell pregnant women to take bed rest during pregnancy. But for the majority of healthy women with low-risk pregnancies, doctors no longer recommend bed rest. Healthcare professionals now say that an excessive bed rest approach can be harmful because during pregnancy, it increases a woman’s risk of blood clots and also decreases muscle mass and aerobic capacity, which can make childbirth and caring for a new-born more challenging than it would otherwise be.
The benefits of exercise during pregnancy have been researched and proven across many studies, including the safety aspects of exercising during the nine months. Exercise has been linked with a lower likelihood of gestational diabetes, hypertensive disorders in pregnancy, fewer caesarean deliveries, and less extra weight gain.
Recommended safe exercise activities in pregnancy include:
✔ Brisk walking ✔ Swimming ✔ Stationary cycling with an exercise bike ✔ Low-impact aerobics ✔ Yoga
EXERCISE TO AVOID IN PREGNANCY
It is important to treat yourself gently enough to avoid any kind of strain during your pregnancy, as some can potentially be harmful to your baby. For this reason, it is important to avoid certain kinds of exercise, any kind of exercise:
✔ Avoid any kind of exercise that requires you to hold your breath.
✔ Steer clear of activities where falling is likely, such as climbing, rollerblading or skiing.
✔ Don’t engage in any contact sports or team sports during pregnancy, as the risk of getting accidentally knocked is high.
✔ Do not get into any exercise that might cause even a mild amount of abdominal trauma – things like badminton or tennis, where there are sudden changes in direction and jarring motions.
✔ Activities that require extensive jumping, hopping, skipping, or bouncing should all be avoided.
✔ Avoid workouts that require bouncing while stretching, deep knee bends, full sit-ups, double leg raises and straight-leg toe touches.
✔ Don’t engage in exercises that require you to lie on your back for more than 1-2 minutes, particularly after your first trimester.
✔ Avoid circuit training or any workouts involving heavy spurts of exercise, followed by long periods of no activity.
✔ Never exercise in hot, humid weather when pregnant, which is particularly poignant to this region.
✔ Avoid any kind of diving, including scuba diving or diving at the pool.
Before continuing a current exercise regime or starting a new one, expectant mothers need to talk it through with their obstetrician first, as there are numerous conditions in pregnancy that could make exercise dangerous, including: ✔ Persistent bleeding in the 2nd or 3rd trimester ✔ Carrying twins, triplets…or more! ✔ Placenta previa after 26 weeks ✔ Preeclampsia or pregnancy-induced hypertension ✔ Severe anaemia
HOW MUCH EXERCISE IS GOOD FOR YOU?
A good goal is to exercise throughout pregnancy for 30 minutes at least five times a week at a moderate intensity, which means you can comfortably carry on a conversation while you exercise. Pregnancy is not the best time to take on a new sport, but for mums-to-be who have a high level of skill and comfort with certain regular activities, it may be safe to continue those activities throughout the majority of your pregnancy, but you will need to check with your obstetrician first!
If you experience warning signs, such as regular painful contractions, bleeding or amniotic fluid leakage, a shortness of breath at rest, any dizziness, headache, chest pain, calf pain, swelling or muscle weakness that affects your balance – stop exercising immediately and check with your obstetrician.
As well as the numerous physical benefits of exercise during pregnancy, the mental health benefits of exercise during pregnancy should not be overlooked. One study confirmed that a moderate level of exercise reduces the risk of depressive disorders in pregnant women.
REMEMBER: KEEP ALL YOUR MOVEMENTS SMOOTH!
Regardless of the kind of exercise you do when expecting, the changes that occur in your body during pregnancy can make it easier to injure your joints, so steer clear of exercise that requires sudden, jerky or high impact movements!
Some women are more prone to dizziness if they change position quickly. Also, good to remember is that your centre of gravity shifts as your belly grows, so it’s easier to lose your balance and fall doing activities that would have been easy for you before your pregnancy.