Pregnancy and Exercise – What You Need To Know

Can you exercise during your pregnancy? Yes, you absolutely can. Here are some factors that you need to consider.

Being a mother is the most beautiful feeling in the world. It prepares you to love unconditionally for a lifetime. But those 9 months when you carry another life inside you, could be the most daunting task ever. Not just physically, but mentally and emotionally as well.

A lot of women out there suffer from so many apprehensions during this period, and the fear of putting on too much weight is one of them.

So, can you or ‘should’ you maintain a certain level of fitness by including some activities during your pregnancy?

Let’s find out!

First things first

According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, working out during pregnancy can make pregnancy comfortable in many ways. It addresses complications such as back pain, strengthens your cardiovascular systems, help you gain weight at a good rate and even helps decrease the risks of gestational diabetes, cesarean section delivery and keep both you and your baby healthy beyond your due date.

To avail these benefits, all you have to do is to work out for 30-45 minutes every day with moderate intensity.

Have a word with your doctor before beginning a routine

If you have been working out before pregnancy, it should be too difficult for you to continue with the workout. However, you need to vary the intensity and keep it moderate according to the stages of pregnancy.

If you never worked out before, consult your doctor/healthcare provider before starting with any workout routine. You need to make sure that you do not include activities that put you or your baby at risk.

Exercises and activities that you need to avoid

Any contact sports or activity that might throw you off balance has to be avoided. Of course, you don’t need to be warned about things like basketball, soccer, biking etc. because it involves a lot of sudden movements. Avoid racquet sports too. Avoid lifting heavy weights as it puts too much pressure on your core and will cause much more soreness than required.

Exercises that you can include

Apart from the exercises with the fall and injury risks, you can choose to have a mix of cardio and strength training of moderate intensity. Most importantly it has to be something that you enjoy doing daily.

Pregnant women are recommended to participate in aerobic and strength training with light weights at least 3 times a week for 30 minutes or more.

Monitor your intensity levels

Monitoring your intensity means that you have to stay in tune with your body.

Your workout should feel somewhat difficult and not too difficult. On a difficulty scale of 1 to 10, you should be hitting it around 4 or 5. It should be too intense that you run out of breath and cannot even carry a conversation.

“It’s okay to feel a little tired and a bit of soreness in your muscles, but psychologically you should be rejuvenated after the workout session!”

Also, different stages of pregnancy require different levels of intensity.

First trimester

Start gently and build up slowly on your rhythm. Include activities like brisk walking and training with moderate weights. Try doing them 5 days a week.

Avoid any sort of contact sports.

Second trimester

During the second trimester, your bump would be growing, and it’s better to leave out exercises which include jumping, running or any sudden movements.

Yoga and Pilates are fine as long as they are conducted under the supervision and that too in pregnancy classes.

Third trimester

In this period exercising is totally up to your comfort levels. Include activities like walking, swimming or training with gentle weights. If you feel any complications or pain, just rest.

You can do gentle stretches to reduce aches and pains.

Don’ts during the pregnancy

Always watch out for exertion. Signs of overexertion include the following:

  • Sharp joint pains, stiffness and reduced range of motion after a workout.
  • Lower back pain during the exercise.
  • Nerve pain ( sciatica, piriformis syndrome).
  • Feeling of heaviness in your vulva.
  • Exhaustion.
  • Shortness of breath.

If you feel any of these, it is better to put everything on hold and take proper rest.

Do’s for a healthy pregnancy

  • Drink enough water. If you become dehydrated, the amount of blood that reaches the placenta reduces bigtime.
  • Do not work out too much in a hot and humid environment. It may cause dizziness and dehydration.
  • Do not lie flat on your back for long after the first trimester. That can lead to uterus putting pressure on the vein called ‘vena cava’, and it can further lead to diminished blood flow to your brain and uterus.
  • Eat enough calories and follow a structured nutrition plan. You are eating for two, so make sure the intake is enough and quantified. Include the right amount of carbohydrate to prevent ‘Hypoglycemia’.
  • Include warm-ups and cooldowns in your activity routine.

It can be concluded that regular activities can help you in coping with the challenges of pregnancy and also build the right amount of stamina.

To many, pregnancy may look like the perfect time to sit back and relax and rightly so because you are carrying more weight than usual and you are tired most of the time.

But you must know that sitting around won’t help much. In fact, keeping up with a workout routine is much better than a long period of inertia.

All those mothers to be, you know you have to nurture a life inside you. Make sure you do it the right way. You might want to make a commitment to include regular exercises to avoid complications afterwards.

All the best!

AUTHOR: KSHITIJ ROY