There are not many responsibilities that are greater than caring for yourself and your unborn baby during pregnancy. Giving birth to a healthy baby requires a healthy pregnancy and that means a nutritious diet, emotional support, stress-reduction methods and exercise.
Exercise is imperative during pregnancy:
Yes, exercise is crucial throughout pregnancy. The term “exercise” is not limited to specific routines and activities, but also includes day-to-day living and making sure frequent movement is part of your day. Making physical activity a daily habit while pregnant will reduce your risk of injury.
Of course, there are exceptions to exercising during pregnancy, such as high-risk pregnancies that require bed rest. However, for most women keeping physically active during pregnancy makes for a better pregnancy, delivery and post-partum experience.
How changes during pregnancy increase your risk of exercise injury:
The body changes drastically during pregnancy to develop a new human being. Some of these changes make it difficult to maintain a routine and sometimes cause injury during activity if they are not dealt with carefully.
• Weight gain is, of course, normal and necessary during pregnancy. A decent amount of weight to gain for a woman of average weight is 25 to 35 pounds. The ideal weight gain is adjusted slightly for overweight or underweight women. A weight gain of more than 40 pounds makes it difficult to stay active on a regular basis.
• Fluid retention or edema is also to be expected during pregnancy. The body produces 50 percent more bodily fluid and blood to accommodate the growing baby. It is important to stay hydrated, follow dietary guidelines and healthy practices such as leg elevation to avoid cramping and exercise injury.
• Being off balance due to weight gain, especially in the midsection, must be considered when taking part in any exercise regimen or just walking. Falling is one of the most dangerous accidents during pregnancy.
• Shifts in hormones during pregnancy can cause nausea and dizziness. When experiencing these symptoms, it is best to avoid physical activity other than casual walking to prevent exercise injury.
What exercises to avoid during pregnancy:
Avoid exercise that could potentially cause a miscarriage or premature labor and, of course, anything associated with a high risk of falling or stumbling. Some of these activities include:
• Vigorous climbing or hiking
• Weight-bearing exercises involving the lower body such as squats
• Using heavy weights (light weights can be okay if done with proper caution)
• Certain yoga poses and stretching exercises
Recommended exercises during pregnancy:
Again, the most important thing to remember when exercising during pregnancy is to stay active daily. Sitting on the couch all week and then deciding to swim laps on Saturday is a recipe for injury. Some of the best exercises during pregnancy are:
With the possible exception of walking and gentle yoga, if you were not experienced in a specific exercise or physical activity before becoming pregnant, don’t start it until you have recovered from childbirth. Many women who are avid runners continue to do so throughout their pregnancy, but this should be done with the permission and guidance of a doctor.
If there are any qualms about participating in a particular form of exercise, it is always best to check with a doctor or healthcare professional first. Additionally, any injury which may affect the health of the baby, such as a fall, should be checked out immediately.