When you are pregnant, you are bombarded by opinions and advice from almost everyone around you. One common advice would be not to exert yourself and rest well. There are various misconceptions around doing physical activities including exercising while you are pregnant. While it is tempting to believe the myths about exercise during pregnancy — they’re just the excuse you need to spend nine months on the couch!
The truth is that staying active during pregnancy works wonders for you and your baby. Plus, it makes it much easier to get back into the groove after giving birth. While it’s true that now isn’t the time to learn to water ski, or enter a horse-jumping competition; it is completely fine to carry on with physical activities you do on a regular basis on a moderate level, unless you are advised by your doctor otherwise.
So lace up your sneakers and get going!
Tips for safe workouts during pregnancy
While exercising and staying active tops the list of things to keep for the 9 months, modifying and scaling back where needed is important.
Get clearance from your doctor if you’re new to exercise or you have any health conditions that may contraindicate it.
Going all-out when you’re a newbie can lead to sore muscles and even injury. Start slowly!
Don’t skip the warm up and cool down sessions, every time you workout.
Drink more water before, during and after workouts to stay hydrated.
Wear supportive clothing and don’t overheat yourselves.
Your center of gravity shifts as your belly grows, so it’s important to take extra care when you change positions. Getting up too quickly can make you dizzy and may cause you to lose your balance and fall.
Don’t spend too much time standing in one position. Keep moving by switching positions or walking in place.
Listen to your body! you’ll probably notice that you can’t work out as strenuously as before. That’s completely alright! You should feel like you’re working your body, not a punishing task. Slow down and take breaks when needed. Don’t push yourselves. Remember, the intention is to stay fit and not attain your peak fitness. Make it a habit and make it fun!
Why you should workout while you are pregnant
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), exercising during pregnancy can lead to a lower incidence of:
- preterm birth
- cesarean birth
- excessive weight gain
- gestational diabetes or hypertensive disorders such as preeclampsia
- lower birth weight
Not convincing enough? Check out the list of some other benefits of exercise during pregnancy.
- increased energy
- improved fitness
- reduced back and pelvic pain
- preparation for the physical demands of labor
- aster recuperation after labor
- prevention and management of urinary incontinence
- improved posture
- improved circulation
- stress relief
- reduced risk of anxiety and depression
- improved sleep and management of insomnia
- increased ability to cope with the physical demands of motherhood.
Hope that gives the motivation to keep you on your feet!
Exercises to avoid while you are pregnant
Avoid contact sports where there is a risk of being hit, such as kickboxing, football, judo or squash (though if you’re in a team you can still continue to do any non-contact training).
Hard projectile objects or striking implements – such as hockey, cricket or softball
Perform controlled stretching and avoid over-extending.
significant changes in pressure – such as SCUBA diving and high-altitude training at over 2000 m
Cycling early in your pregnancy should be okay if you’re already comfortable on a bike, but it’s best to stick to stationary bikes later in your pregnancy if balance becomes an issue.
While yoga and Pilates are great exercises for pregnancy (with some modifications), don’t participate in hot yoga or Pilates, which is done in a closed room with high heat and humidity. It’s important to avoid overheating while pregnant
After the first trimester, avoid exercising while lying flat on your back. It can reduce blood flow to the heart and in turn your uterus.This can also make you dizzy, short of breath, or nauseated.
Avoid over stressing joints with excessive high-impact movements, especially if joint pain or discomfort is an issue.
Now that we have a list of workouts to avoid and precaution tips, let’s focus on what you can actually do to stay fit even with a growing belly!
FYI : Go about with these exercises only after getting a green signal from your doctor!
Pelvic floor exercise and pregnancy
Your pelvic floor muscles are weakened during pregnancy and birth, so it is essential to begin conditioning the pelvic floor muscles from the start of your pregnancy.
Appropriate exercises can be prescribed by a physiotherapist. It is important to continue with these throughout your pregnancy and resume as soon as is comfortable after the birth.
It’s any activity that makes your heart beat faster. This includes brisk walking, running, swimming, dancing, etc. If you’re new to cardio, start off slowly and gradually build up to a maximum of four half-hour sessions a week.
The aim of Pilates is to improve balance, strength, flexibility and posture. It could help your body cope with carrying the extra weight of your growing baby, as well as preparing you for childbirth and recovering afterwards.
Strength training exercises are exercises that make your muscles stronger. They include swimming, working with weights, walking uphill and digging the garden.
It’s a good way to keep your muscles toned during pregnancy.
Pregnancy yoga uses relaxation and breathing techniques with postures that are adapted for pregnancy.
With your practitioner’s okay, it’s safe to exercise your abs throughout your entire pregnancy with the “proper modifications”. In fact, strengthening your abs when you’re expecting supports your pelvic organs as your baby bump gets bigger.
During pregnancy, it is common for women to experience the condition known as ‘Diastasis recti abdominis’ – a painless splitting of the abdominal muscle at the mid-line, also known as abdominal separation. Traditional sit-ups or crunches may worsen this condition, and can be ineffective during pregnancy.
Appropriate core stability exercises are recommended during pregnancy to strengthen the muscles of the abdomen. For example:
- Concentrate on drawing your belly button towards your spine.
- Breathe out while pulling in your belly.
- Hold the position and count to 10. Relax and breathe in.
- Repeat 10 times, as many times a day as you are able.
- You can perform this exercise sitting, standing or on your hands and knees.
You’re more likely to stick with an exercise plan if it involves activities you enjoy and fits into your daily schedule. Consider these simple tips:
Start small. You don’t need to join a gym or wear expensive workout clothes to get in shape. Just get moving. Try a daily walk through your neighborhood or walk the perimeter of the grocery store a few times. Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
Find a partner. Exercise can be more interesting if you use the time to chat with a friend. Better yet, involve your family.
Try a class. Many fitness centers and hospitals offer classes, such as prenatal yoga, designed for pregnant women. Choose one that fits your interests and schedule.
Looking for some inspiration?
- Serena Williams found out she was expecting her first child just two days before the record-breaking Australian Open game.
- Gal Gadot, was 5 months pregnant when she was shooting for action sequences in wonder woman. Oh and you would be surprised to see the long list of actresses who gave some amazing performances while they had a bun the oven.
- In 2014, Alysia Montaño, the track star ran an 800-meter race at the USA Track & Field Outdoor Championships while at 34 weeks of pregnancy.
- Malaysian shooter Nur Suryani Mohamed Taibi will likely be the most pregnant Olympian ever when she competes in London at eight months along.
- Seven-time Olympic medalist Dana Vollmer swam the 50-meter freestyle at a national meet while six months pregnant
When these women made records while they were pregnant, what’s your excuse? Get moving and stay healthy!