Expectant mothers often overlook the primary benefits of exercise during pregnancy. Although there are drastic changes to the body during this time regular activity during pregnancy has many benefits. The goals is not to lose weight, but to stay fit during this changing time.
Internal changes and your baby’s development create demands on your body so you will want to listen to your body and adjust your routine accordingly. Ligaments that support your joints are going to stretch during this time due to hormones produced during pregnancy. All these internal changes will change your center of gravity as the added weight puts stress on muscles and joints. Especially those in the lower pelvic area. This means it could be easier for you to lose your balance.
A regular exercise program of about 30 minutes per day can help to stimulate the body and all its systems. It can help to reduce the risk of constipation, keep blood flow strong to prevent blood clots, which are a common pregnancy risk and can be serious. Regular exercise can also keep joints and muscles toned and help keep them in place protecting them from injury. Evidence shows that prenatal exercise may also prevent pre-eclampsia, which can be a fatal complication in pregnancy. Gestational diabetes is also something that can be better managed or even prevented during pregnancy with a regular exercise program.
Severe to moderate fatigue and even aches and pains can accompany pregnancy. During these times exercise can be the last thing you want to do, but it can make for better oxygen circulation and the endorphins released can help with the anxiety and stress that can accompany pregnancy. It can also give you more energy and focus, lubricates the joints, and encourages good posture which can help prevent or at least alleviate much of the pain in the back.
You will want to wear some loose fitting clothing and be sure you have a good support bra to wear also. Shoes should be chosen for the type of exercise you will be doing. Do your exercising on a level, flat surface which will help to prevent any kind of injury.
Finish eating about an hour before you plan to begin exercising and eat at least 300 more calories daily than you did before you were pregnant. Drink plenty of water before, during and after your exercising routine. If doing floor exercises be careful when you go to get up that you are doing it slowly and gradually to prevent getting dizzy. Don’t over do it. If you are out of breath your are over doing it and need to slow down.
If you have trouble walking, are short of breath, experience any muscle weakness, vaginal bleeding, chest or pelvic pain, become nauseated, headache, light headed, feel cold and clammy, notice decrease or absence of fetal movement, a sudden gush of fluid or trickle of fluid from the vagina, or you have difficulty walking you should stop exercising and consult your medical provider.
A exercise program during pregnancy will help to strengthen your body overall and in doing so will help to make labor less taxing because you will have more energy. Doing Kegel and pelvic tilts can help reduce the amount of pushing you will have to do during delivery and prevent hemorrhoids. Kegel exercises are done by tightening the muscles around the vagina and hold for a count of 5, doing this 10 times. The pelvic tilts are done by getting down on all fours with hands at shoulders length apart. With your arms straightened but not locking your elbows you will breathe in and tighten your ab muscles with the back rounded. Try to do this as many times as you are comfortable.
Most new mothers can resume an exercise program a couple of weeks after a vaginal delivery and three to four weeks after a cesarean. But you will want to start with low impact. Ask your health care provider first to be sure of any limitations in your particular case.