Exercises During Pregnancy
Usually, it is safe to exercise during pregnancy. Doctors generally recommend a pregnant female to stay active and fit and exercise regularly as long as the female is comfortable and has no severe health conditions like heart disease, lung disease, asthma, or so.
It is essential to maintain an active lifestyle and stay fit during pregnancy to keep yourself and your baby safe from risks or complications. Expecting females should exercise regularly to build a strong and healthy body and maintain an optimal weight during pregnancy. Regular exercise will reduce stress, anxieties, fatigue, and boost endurance for standard delivery. Exercising during pregnancy will also give relief from aches and enhance overall body posture. According to doctors, even 10 minutes of mild exercises during pregnancy are sufficient for effective results.
However, a pregnant woman should consult with her doctor before starting any new exercise routine, especially in the third trimester of pregnancy.
Safe Exercises you can do in pregnancy
Regular exercise and physical activities during pregnancy have health benefits. It also helps the body to prepare for childbirth. However, it is essential to choose a suitable exercise routine as pregnancy affects the body’s response to different exercises.
Kegel exercises work to strengthen the muscles that support the abdominal organs, including the uterus, vagina, and urinary bladder.
Kegels also help to maintain bladder control function and reduce the risk of piles or hemorrhoids (which are very common in pregnancy).
A Kegel exercise routine involves doing 10–20 contractions, 3 or 4 times a day. Kegels are beneficial during and even after pregnancy (after the recovery period) to restore vaginal health.
Strengthening the pelvic floor muscles with Kegels exercises during pregnancy can help many symptoms that commonly arise during or after pregnancy, including-
- Urinary Leakage or Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI)
- Painful urination (dysuria)
- Frequent urge to pee
- Painful bowel movements
- Leakage of stool
- Painful sex
- Incomplete bowel movements
- Lower back pain
Pelvic floor exercises
Pelvic floor muscles are located in the pelvis and go from the pubic bone at the front to the base of the spine at the back. These muscles are hammock-shaped and protect the bowels, uterus (womb), and urinary bladder. Pregnancy and childbirth (especially a vaginal delivery) weaken the pelvic floor muscles.
Keeping your pelvic muscles healthy can help decrease the risk of urinary leakage, which is common after pregnancy.
Birthing ball exercises
Birthing ball exercises in pregnancy can ease the pain before and during labor. Exercising on a birthing ball can reduce pelvic pressure, relieve back pain, and shorten labor. Birthing ball exercises are also believed to induce labor naturally.
Try birthing ball exercises in positions where you are leaning forward (such as a child’s pose) rather than tilting back. Gently bouncing on the birthing ball can also help the baby’s head drop into the pelvic area.
Yoga lets the body stretch and develops endurance and strength gently. It is also very beneficial for encouraging mindfulness skills, relieving stress, and anxieties. Controlling breathing and meditation can keep your body fit and healthy and keep your mind fresh and stress-free.
Most yoga poses are safe in the first trimester. As the pregnancy progresses and your baby belly grows, avoid yoga poses in which pressure is exerted on your stomach as it may harm the baby.
A pregnant female should avoid some yoga poses during pregnancy, including-
- Bikram (or hot) yoga
- Positions involving abdominal twists
- Positions in which you need to lay on your back
- Positions in which you need to raise your feet above the head and heart level
- Positions in which you need to balance your body closely
Weight training or Strength exercises
Strength training exercises or weight training are the exercises that make the muscles stronger and build muscle endurance. You do not necessarily go to the gym or buy weights or dumbbells to do such exercises. Normal day-to-day activities like gardening, walking up a hill, stretching while holding (a little heavy) books or any other object can fulfill the motive and provide excellent results. If you have a gym membership or like working out in the gym itself, do not indulge in weight training with heavy weights or dumbbells. Choose loads that do not put a lot of pressure on you. Keep it light as you would not want to have those post-workout cramps during your pregnancy.
Weight training or strength exercises are an excellent way to keep your body and muscles toned during pregnancy.
Cycling is an excellent low-impact aerobic exercise that is safe in the first and second trimester of pregnancy. Doctors recommend avoiding cycling in the third trimester because as the bump grows, your body balance will change, and you are more likely to fall or lose your balance while riding. Females carrying twins should avoid cycling in the latter weeks of the second trimester itself as in the case of twins, the belly grows faster and earlier.
If you are used to cycling, it should be safe to carry on with this exercise until your doctor recommends to give it a break.
Using an exercise bike in the gym is safe and can be done throughout the pregnancy.
Walking, Running or Jogging
Running, jogging, or walking are great aerobic workouts. Depending on your health, the trimeter you are in, and your overall health, you can go running, walks, or jogging. If you are comfortable with running or jogging, you can do it. For females who are not a fan of running, brisk walking is a simple way to keep your body going and burn some calories. Don’t worry, as long as it is done safely and you feel okay with it, these exercises will not harm your baby.
Swimming and exercising in water (like water aerobics) support the baby bump and will not strain your back. Additionally, it is a great way to burn calories and stay active without putting extra pressure on joints and ligaments.
Many gyms and prenatal programs have aqua natal classes, which is a fun way to participate in safe water games and activities.
Who should avoid exercise in pregnancy?
She may be advised to stay off strenuous exercises during pregnancy if a female has a medical condition like asthma, heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes. Exercising may also be harmful if a female has a pregnancy-related complication such as:
- Low placenta
- Weak cervix
- Recurrent miscarriage or pregnancy loss
- Vaginal bleeding or spotting
- A previous case of premature births
- History of early labor
Talk with your gynecologist before starting an exercise program, especially after week 20 of pregnancy. Work with your doctor to make a custom workout plan which is safe and beneficial for you and your baby. Always make sure to exercise moderately and do not push yourself over the limits. Exercise safely to have the maximum benefits and healthy pregnancy and baby.