Exercise during pregnancy can strengthen muscles and reduce back aches. It can help you sleep better at night.
Labor and delivery may even be easier due to improved muscle tone and a healthier cardiovascular system. And maybe you'll have less "baby fat" to lose after the baby is born.
Women who were getting regular exercise before becoming pregnant should be able to modify their pre-pregnancy regimen. Women who were couch potatoes before can start small and gradually increase their activity.
What do you like? For fun, think about dancing. For a break from feeling heavy, consider swimming or water aerobics. Yoga or tai chi are gentle workouts.
You can walk at your own pace, for the distance and length of time you choose. If you used to run, you may be able to continue.
Kegel exercises will strengthen your pelvic floor. Tighten the muscles you'd use to stop urination. Hold a few seconds and relax the muscles. Do a few of these anytime, anywhere.
In an interview with WebMD Bonnie Berk, founder of the Motherwell pregnancy fitness program, she suggested that all pregnant woman who are able to, should walk for 20 minutes or more most days. Beginners should start slowly and work up gradually. If 20 minutes feels too long, it's fine to split that 20 minutes into two shorter walks.
Berk recommended that pregnant women who were very active pre-pregnancy alternate days for aerobic exercises and weightlifting. Avoid stressing your joints, since ligaments become relaxed during pregnancy due to hormonal changes. Use lighter weights for more repetitions.
Berk advocated exercising transverse abdominal muscles rather than doing crunches. She suggested doing ab work on all-fours rather than on your back.
While yoga is good, inverted poses or those done lying on your back should wait until after delivery. Berk cautioned that Pilates may be too strenuous for a pregnant beginner.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) advised that before setting off on a new exercise program, you should talk to your doctor. Don't exercise if you're at risk for early labor, if you've had vaginal bleeding or you've had premature rupture of membranes. If you have no health issues, you should be able to start out moderately.
If you were running, strength training, or playing badminton or tennis before pregnancy you should be able to carry on, with your doctor's blessing. Skiing or contact sports like hockey or soccer could be dangerous to both mother and child.
Avoid jerky or jarring movements to protect relaxed ligaments. Exercises involving balance become tricky as your center of gravity has moved to a new location, and you're carrying extra pounds.
Your best window for exercise is the first 24 weeks, with things becomingly increasingly difficult as time passes. The last three months, as you might imagine, are the hardest.
Exercising During Pregnancy
Pregnancy Fitness: Bonnie Berk
ACOG: Publicatons/ Patient Education
Reviewed July 4, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg R.N.
Edited by Alison Stanton
Visit Jody's website and blog at http://www.ncubator.ca and http://ncubator.ca/blogger