It is important for pregnant women to adhere to a good exercise routine. Just because a woman is carrying a baby does not mean that she cannot get in a pregnancy workout.
Exercise is good for the young, the old, and the pregnant.
Pregnant women can reap many benefits from the many different types of workouts available to them. A mild exercise routine should help pregnant women maintain a sense of fitness and mental well-being.
Exercise should not be done to lose weight, but to help keep the body active and moving.
Benefits of Exercise
Exercise can help pregnant women get an energy boost, fight against illnesses, build a strong immune system, improve self-esteem and help them get a better night’s sleep.
Exercise will even help moms get their children out of their car seats. Prenatal exercise should be fun and enjoyable for both mother and unborn baby.
Women who have exercised and given birth complained less about back pain, constipation, morning sickness, and headaches. They experienced shorter labors, did not gain an excessive amount of weight during pregnancy, and recovered quickly after birth. The risk for a cesarean section also decreases with a mild exercise program.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that pregnant women partake in some sort of moderate exercise for at least 30 minutes a day. This is enough to gain some of the benefits mentioned above.
Since some exercises are limited to pregnant women, it is important to discuss programs with your OB/GYN or physician. Below are a few types of exercises that many pregnant women take part in.
Types of Exercises
If you are not taking a prenatal yoga class, then be sure to tell your yoga instructor that you are pregnant. Some exercises are not recommended for pregnant women, like backbends, handstands, headstands or the upward bow.
Yoga exercises like the butterfly stretch, the cat-cow, and the side angle pose are good exercises. The seated forward bend, standing forward bend, and the triangle pose can be done but with some modifications, like the use of a chair.
- Swimming – Swimming is a safe way for pregnant women to have fun and get a little exercise in as well. There are many health centers that have water aerobics classes. It can help relieve back pain and help to relax the body. Women say that it also helps them to sleep well at night. There are many activities and stretches that can be done in the pool, and the baby is sure to get a kick out of it as well.
- Prenatal Yoga – Prenatal yoga helps to tone and stretch the body while giving it a sense of physical and mental well-being. Some women may feel overwhelmed with their pregnancy and the thought of giving birth and being mothers, but participating in yoga can help to de-stress the mind and relax the body. Yoga classes can also help mothers-to-be to meet each other to share their experiences.
- Prenatal Pilates – Pilates is another low impact exercise that has many benefits for the pregnant mother. Some pregnancies come with highs and lows and hormones are sometimes all over the place. Pilates is a great way to release stress and improve mood. Pilates helps to strengthen the pelvic muscles; this will help in labor. It can also help the baby to turn its head downwards, which can help in labor and reduce the chance of a breech baby. There are many prenatal Pilates classes in health centers that help pregnant women to get their 30 minutes of exercise each day.
- Walking – Pregnant women who walk every day for about 30 minutes will see a boost in their mood, health, and get a great cardiovascular workout as well. It is safe from day one until the day you give birth. It can be done anywhere at any time. Walking around the block in groups can help to pass the time and allow women to take advantage of the many benefits walking can do for the body. This low impact exercise just requires a pair of supportive shoes. Walking during the coolest parts of the day and having a water bottle available are great tips. A supportive belly band is optional, but it can help to support the lower back and reduce the risk of aches and pains. It is also good to start looking for certain strollers that will facilitate walking with your child.
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While exercise is recommend for pregnant women, it is always good to be cautious. If you experience any dizziness, faintness, headaches, shortness of breath, vaginal bleeding, cramping, or contractions during exercise, then stop and contact your health care provider.
Some women also experience overheating or dehydration. Make sure to drink plenty of fluids, especially water, to keep you and your baby hydrated.
It is important to know your body. If you were an active person before you became pregnant, then you can continue many of your exercises with the approval of your OB/GYN.
If you were not very active before you became pregnant and are looking to participate in an exercise program, then you should start out slow and safe. Always have water with you and exercise in a cool area. This will prevent dehydration and fainting. Pregnant women who exercise will experience many physical and mental benefits.
Not all types of physical activity are suitable for everyone. Users take training advice at their own personal risk. Make sure you talk to your doctor before attempting any pregnancy workouts.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
How long after pregnancy until you can exercise again?
The common rule is to wait six weeks after a vaginal delivery and eight weeks after a C-section. However, this is simply a common rule and you should always follow your doctor’s instructions.
Does breastfeeding burn calories?
Breastfeeding burns, on average, an additional 500 calories a day.
Can I exercise if I have diastasis recti?
Yes. However, you should avoid exercises that can separate the abdominals even more like crunches, planks, twisting motions, heavy lifting, and any sudden movements.
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