Pregnancy & Exercise

pregnant-women-with-weightsJust because you’re pregnant doesn’t mean you should confine yourself to a chair or sofa. For most women, exercise during pregnancy is not only safe but also recommended by all health professionals

Benefits of exercise
Exercise during pregnancy may help you prepare for childbirth by maintaining or increasing your strength, flexibility, endurance, and stamina. Think of it as conditioning for the event of labor. It has other benefits as well. Women who participate in regular moderate exercise during pregnancy: are less likely to have problems with excessive weight gain; find that exercise serves as an excellent stress reliever; tend to lose weight more rapidly after birth; and have lower rates of postpartum depression.

Who should not participate in exercise during pregnancy?
There are some women who should not exercise during pregnancy or who need to limit their exercise. If you have a chronic medical condition such as a heart or kidney problem, insulin-dependent diabetes, or musculoskeletal disease, ask your provider what type and quantity of exercise would be most beneficial. If you have had bleeding, severe cramping, or threatened miscarriage during this pregnancy, or if you have a history of recurrent miscarriage or incompetent cervix, your provider will probably tell you to wait until at least the second trimester before considering any increase in activity level. Some women, such as those with a history of preterm labor, may be told not to exercise at all. Only your own provider will know your circumstances well enough to determine your best approach.

What type of exercise is safe to do while pregnant?
Before you start any exercise program, you should check with your health care provider. In choosing your exercise, stick with what you know and what your body is used to doing. Many providers will discourage their patients from learning a new activity, and they will most likely advise against activities that carry a risk of falling or serious injury, such as skiing, horseback riding, waterskiing, or scuba diving. Remember, too, that your body’s changes may affect your ability to carry out certain activities. Even before you notice an increase in your waistline, your ligaments and tendons may relax somewhat under the influence of the hormones in your body, changing the way your joints respond to motion and stress. For this reason, exercise specialists often warn pregnant women against overstretching their arms and legs.

As your pregnancy progresses, you will find that your center of gravity changes along with the growth in your midsection, and you may find it harder to keep your balance. As the uterus expands and crowds the lungs, you may have more trouble catching your breath with exertion. In the second and third trimester, your provider may tell you to avoid exercising while lying flat on your back, a position that may compress blood vessels that carry blood to the uterus. As you approach your due date and your growing body interferes with your ability to do some types of activity, don’t give up exercise, but change to a less strenuous activity such as T’ai Chi, yoga, or walking.

Look for pregnancy-specific classes
Many health clubs and hospitals offer exercise classes specifically for pregnant women. Look for classes led by someone who has training or certification in this topic. In addition to providing appropriate exercise, these classes can be a great way to meet other pregnant women, and they may eliminate much of the self-consciousness some women feel about exercising in front of other people while visibly pregnant. If you prefer to exercise at home, you might want to hire a personal trainer who can design a programme for pregnant exercisers.

To exercise safely during pregnancy, follow these guidelines:
Plan a warm-up and cool-down period each time you exercise. Choose longer-term mild to moderate exercise rather than short-term strenuous exercise. Keep a water bottle handy while exercising, and drink from it every 5-10 minutes. Stay well hydrated even while not exercising, by drinking at least eight full glasses of water every day. Never exercise in the heat of the day.

Always seek the advice of your doctor or midwife if you develop any cramping, pain, or bleeding during or after exercise.

For details of how to include a progamme of exercise while pregnant, hire a pre-natal trained personal trainer at IVERIDGE who can guide you through a programme of sensible exercise. We also offer a Mummy Returns personal training plan to get back in shape following childbirth. This involves training 1 to 1 with a personal trainer after your 6-week check. Call 01132 887 666 today. Click here for details of our Mummy returns package. You may bring little one in a car seat during sessions as well should you need to.

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