It’s often debated whether a woman should exercise during pregnancy or not. In fact, afraid that it might lead to problems most of pregnant women avoid any kind of workouts. However, this is not true. A well-tailored, suitable fitness regime during pregnancy would help you stay fit while keeping your baby healthy as well.
If you’re already working out or physically active, you would be able to continue most of your workouts or activities except more intensive ones, or those requiring heavy weights. You must understand that you cannot continue exercising at your pre-pregnancy level, and it needs to moderated now. Make sure you’re always comfortable with your activities. Low-impact workouts are preferred over high-impact ones.
If you weren’t working out before pregnancy, you can still begin exercising after consulting your obstetrician and trainer. However, you’re cautioned against beginning any new but strenuous activity. It’s advised to begin with walking, safest mode of workout.
Pregnant athletes and sportswomen should take special care, and an obstetrician should monitor her activities and progress warily.
Benefits of working out during pregnancy
Exercising during pregnancy has several benefits. As a matter of fact, obstetricians are advising women to work out and several hospitals have even begun their own exercising programs where women can register themselves. Yoga, particularly, has become quite popular among pregnant women. Here is a list of benefits of working out during pregnancy:
- Reduces risk of long-term obesity and gestational diabetes
- Helps in controlling gestational diabetes
- Elevates energy levels
- Improves muscle tone, endurance and strength as well as posture which might become a problem in pregnant women especially at later stages of their pregnancy
- Prevents lower backaches
- Prevents bloating
- Prevents swelling
- Aids in a faster and safer delivery
- Faster recovery after childbirth
- Helps fight irritation and stress
However, it’s essential that you must consult an expert before beginning or continuing a fitness regime. Not all types of workouts might be safe during pregnancy.
When to avoid working out during pregnancy?
Exercising isn’t advised if you’ve a medical condition like heart disease, asthma or diabetes. Also, working out is contraindicated in certain pregnancy-related conditions, like:
- Low placenta
- Spotting or vaginal bleeding
- Recurrent miscarriage
- Threatened abortion
- History of premature births or early labour
- Weak cervix
Also, you should make sure to identify any red-flags against exercising as soon as they appear. If any of the following sings are present stop working out:
- Vaginal bleeding
- Shortness of breath at rest
- Muscle weakness
- Pain or swelling of calf muscles
- Diminished fetal movements
- Leaking of amniotic fluid
- Chest pain
Which exercises to avoid and which exercises are safe during pregnancy?
Though your body isn’t as fragile as an eggshell, it’s required to avoid certain activities and sports until childbirth. In any case, it’s quite easy to spot which activities are a big ‘NO’ during pregnancy. Yes! The intense training, activities involving heavy lifting or sudden movement, or where there is risk of losing balance. Weight training can be allowed, but only as much as is comfortable. Never push yourself beyond limits. Running and yoga are alright as well, however, take precautions to avoid asanas with complex postures. Don’t measure your workout sessions by a clock, but with your comfort and first sign of strain.
Safer options of workouts during pregnancy, also the most productive ones, are brisk walking, swimming, stationary cycling, elliptical or step machine and, last but not the least, low impact aerobics. These exercises have little risk of injuries, while working out your entire body. Good thing is you can even continue them till birth. Jogging can be done in moderation, particularly if you jogged before expecting. Do not chose workouts or activities requiring extreme balance or coordination, particularly in the later part of the pregnancy.
Best exercises during pregnancy
As we’ve already discussed that working out during pregnancy is useful by assisting the mother with stabilization and postural alignment, they also help in strengthening the pelvic floor muscles and improving the core support. Some exercises that are helpful during pregnancy are as follows:
- Cat-cow: Cat-cow back stretch and extension is an efficient exercise for the back as it both stretches and extends the muscles of the back and abdomen. It improves spine flexibility, thus recommended for women with complaints of back pain
- Spinal balance: These exercises are great for both improving the balance and strengthening core muscles.
- Good mornings: These exercises work the full length of erector spinae. They strengthen the core muscles in the lower back and hip extensors.
- Planks: You must do planks until the tummy touches the floor. They work the entire core muscles including rectus abdominus, transverse abdominus, both internal and external obliques, back and hips
- Bridges: Can be done until the second trimester. These workouts strengthen the core and reduces back pain.
- Squats: They help in building the leg muscles including quadriceps, calves and hamstrings.
- Classical dumbbell weight training
Against the wrong notion that during pregnancy a woman cannot work out, it’s proved through studies that working out during pregnancy is actually beneficial to both the mother’s health and baby’s growth. However, care must be taken to not overexert themselves and choose your workout carefully and in consultation with your obstetrician.