Pregnancy and Exercise
There was a time when people believed, that the only way to give birth to a healthy baby is to be on bed rest and avoid all physical activity throughout the pregnancy. Times have changed, and people are becoming more aware now about the benefits of exercise during pregnancy.
Benefits of exercising are numerous, both for the mother’s body as well as the healthy development of the fetus. It improves your overall health and even mindset enriching them with positive thoughts. It improves the quality of sleep, reduces body pains that you are prone to due to the number of changes being brought on during the pregnancy and also prepares your body and all its muscles for the stress of childbirth. Regular exercise will also help the mother to get back in shape after the baby is born and will improve the chances of her suffering from several post-delivery issues such as backaches, fatigue, circulation problems, constipation etc.
One should however check with your doctor before implementing a regular exercise routine. Every pregnancy is different from the other and sometimes too much of physical activity can be dangerous. Some moms-to-be are more prone to pregnancy related hypertension, diabetes, preterm labor, bleeding etc. Also you might have to make a few changes or take care of certain areas where stressing the body could be harmful. Your doctor will help you work on your schedule and make you more aware about your body and what is good and bad. For most normal pregnancy, you will be allowed to carry on all normal work as before just with minor precautions. Best recommended exercises during pregnancy include swimming, yoga, walking, low-impact aerobic and floor exercises. One must make sure to be well hydrated, wear loose comfortable clothes as well as shoes and not overdo any form of exercise. Certain exercises for pelvic muscles that work by strengthening those muscles also help immensely during labor.
Coming to the actual exercises, whatever you may decide be sure to start slow and emphasize on doing a proper warm up and cool down. Be gentle to stretching exercises, avoiding any muscle strain and spasms. Some of the joints are more prone to injuries than the other, more so during pregnancy because of the hormonal changes. This may include knees, and other soft tissues as well as tendons and ligaments. Avoid exercises that involve lying on your back in the later stages of the pregnancy as the uterus may put extra pressure on the major veins that go back to the heart. Check with your health care provider and make sure whatever you are doing, is okay and have regular checks as your pregnancy progresses. Some of the obvious physical activities that are not recommended during this period would be scuba diving, skiing, basketball etc. Stop and seem immediate attention at the first signs of exertion, fatigue, chest pain or breathlessness or any kind of contractions.
There are many support groups and interactive classes for pregnant women in the hospitals or even fitness centers. These may include many other women who are at different stages of their pregnancy, and that forms a good platform to interact, discuss your concerns and work together or even exercise as a group. Pregnancy is an important stage of a women’s life and how you handle that period while taking good care of yourself has an impact on you as well as your child for the rest of your life. It is important that you eat right, take good care of your body and recover from childbirth in a healthy and timely manner. Moderate exercise/physical activity can help you achieve that and improve your fitness levels as well as improve the chances of avoiding post partum depression at the end of your pregnancy. Be sure you understand your body and treat it right, in this time when your body needs special attention and all the extra care.