This blog was originally written by Dr. Supriya Himanshu on her website All What She Wants. To read the original story, click here.
We thank Dr. Shelly Singh, MBBS, MD (OB-GYN), Senior Consultant OB-GYN at BirthRight By Rainbow Hospitals, Malviya Nagar, New Delhi, for helping us understand more about exercise during pregnancy, which helped me write this blog.
Women in their pregnancy often face this dilemma of whether to exercise or not. And, We decided to pop this question on the very International Women's Day week. How about taking a piece of expert advice on this wonderful occasion?
Dr. Shelly shares some interesting facts about pregnancy exercise myths. You’ll be surprised to know that her instant answer to your question whether to exercise or not is a big …“YES!”
But there are some points we need to keep in mind as the safety of the growing fetus is paramount along with the health and fitness of the mother-to-be.
Why Exercise During Pregnancy?
Exercise keeps you fit - not just physically but mentally as well. While it burns out the unnecessary fat, it also improves the mood, vitality, alertness and the feeling of well-being. For any pregnant women, maintaining good physical and mental health is important. Here is a list of why exercising is good for pregnant women:
‣ Strengthens the joints
‣ Tones the muscles
‣ Improves circulation
‣ Eases backache and fatigue
‣ Produces feel-good hormones, endorphins. Endorphins help you to sleep better.
‣ Improves posture
‣ Aids in normal delivery
‣ Help keep blood sugar levels normal in GDM
Exercising Tips During Pregnancy
Pregnancy is a period you need to be a little more conscious than usual. The same applies to the exercise regimen you want to follow during pregnancy. Here are a few tips to implement while planning your exercise session while carrying a little life inside you.
‣ If you have always been physically active, you can continue the same way but not to the point of exhaustion.
‣ If you haven’t been exercising at all, consult your doctor. If your doctor permits, begin with mild exercise 15 minutes at a time, 3 times a week. After a certain period of time, you could increase it to 30-45 minutes, 4-5 times a week.
‣ Ensure to have a trained instructor who knows the dos and don’ts of exercise in pregnancy.
‣ Wear loose, comfortable clothes and a good sports bra while performing exercises. Your shoes must be comfortable and good for the kind of activities you plan to do.
‣ Eat something (like a banana or dates or nuts) before exercise. But make sure that there is a gap of at least an hour between eating and performing exercises.
‣ Don’t exercise in hot and humid weather.
‣ Drink enough water to keep yourself hydrated before, during and after exercise.
Not Everyone Should Exercise
Although there are various benefits of exercising during pregnancy, there are a group of people for whom exercise is not suggested. So, before you decide to take up any type of exercise, consult your doctor and have a discussion about the same.
Pregnant women who have any of the following conditions should avoid exercising:
‣ Bleeding or spotting
‣ Threatened or Recurrent abortion
‣ Low lying placenta
‣ Previous preterm deliveries, stillbirth or miscarriage
‣ Heart disease
‣ Severe hypertension or preeclampsia
‣ Cervical incompetence
Must-do Exercises During Pregnancy
There are a certain set of exercises that are highly beneficial to pregnant women. Here is a list:
‣ Swimming - the water helps in relieving backache while toning the muscles adequately
‣ Yoga and breathing exercises
‣ Brisk walking
‣ Indoor cycling
‣ Gymming using a step or elliptical machines
‣ Slow jogging
‣ Low impact aerobics
‣ Low-intensity Zumba
Exercises That Can be Avoided
Every coin has two sides and so do the types of exercises. While a certain set of exercises are recommended, there are a certain set of exercises that could pose grave harm to the body of pregnant women.
‣ Any exercise which can upset the balance and coordination of the body.
‣ Holding the breath during any activity.
‣ Exercises that involve lying on the back for a good amount of time could lead the baby bump to press on the major blood vessels of your body resulting in dizziness.
‣ Contact sports such as softballs, volleyball, football. These exercises could cause trauma to your abdomen.
‣ Extensive jumping, skipping, hopping and bouncing
How To Proceed
I will not get into the nitty-gritty of how these exercises are done as that would be the domain of the exercise instructors or wellness specialists, but here is an overview to proceed with the exercise regimen is during pregnancy:
‣ Make sure you begin with a warm-up for 5 minutes
‣ Stretch for 5 minutes
‣ 15 minutes of cardiovascular exercises with a record of your peak heart beat rise
‣ The main form of exercise for 15 minutes
‣ Cool down
When To Stop Exercising?
Your body is undergoing major changes already. So, don’t be harsh on your body. At any point in your exercise session, if you feel any of the following signs or symptoms, stop working out immediately and seek your doctor’s help!
‣ Chest pain or palpitations
‣ Nausea or vomiting
‣ Abdominal or pelvic pain
‣ Sudden calf pain or difficulty walking
‣ Vaginal bleeding
‣ Watery leaking
A gentle, well-supervised exercise protocol during pregnancy inarguably ensures the wellness for the baby and the mother-to-be. It also aids women to have an easier labour. If you are unsure about where to get proper guidance about the pregnancy exercises, there are various wellness classes available in most of the hospitals with a targeted program of approaching exercise and fitness during pregnancy. Attend them to get all the necessary information.
Make sure you exercise, glow and feel positive during your pregnancy. Because happier mother deliver happier and healthier babies.