Women who are pregnant are often told not to “exert” themselves or to focus on staying well rested. While you should never overwork yourself or exercise in ways that require jumping and can cause injury, you should do your best to stay active during pregnancy. Exercising in ways that are safe while carefully monitoring your body can help you stay fit and strong during pregnancy which has many benefits for you and your baby.
With the right amount of exercise, you can keep your body strong and prepare yourself for labor. Women who exercise during pregnancy also tend to feel better overall. Exercising keeps your body fit and functioning properly, helping to decrease bloating, backaches, constipation, and swelling. When these unpleasant side effects of pregnancy are more manageable, you will be in a better mood, rest more easily, and feel energized.
For your baby, exercise also helps prevent gestational diabetes, which can cause serious harm if left untreated. Research also shows that in the first trimester, exercising helps form more blood vessels in the placenta, allowing more nutrients to be easily delivered to your baby. Babies’ whose mothers exercised at least 3-4 days a week during pregnancy tend to have healthier hearts too.
Pregnancy can take a toll on a woman’s body. In order to cope with these changes it is important to exercise before, during, and after pregnancy. However, women who are pregnant should be extra careful when exercising. The hormones produced during pregnancy relax ligaments that support your joints, making you more prone to injury. The extra weight of pregnancy can also shift your center of gravity, something that takes some adjusting to and can make you more unstable.
Certain kinds of exercise are more ideal for women who are pregnant. These include yoga, walking, swimming, aerobics, cycling, and modified running. There are plenty of exercise classes offered for pregnant women that you can take with other expecting mothers and get proper instruction to avoid injury. More extreme activities like skiing, contact sports, and horseback riding should be avoided. If you are unsure about the safety of a certain activity or exercise, call Dr. Ayalon for advice.
Generally you should exercise at least thirty minutes every day, or as many days as possible out of your week. As your pregnancy progresses, your exercise routine should be altered to fit your body’s abilities. Never overwork yourself or put too much strain on your joints. Shortness of breath can prevent your baby from receiving enough oxygen. Remember to start slow, taking plenty of breaks as needed, to help build strength and stamina with less strain on you. Always stretch and practice relaxed breathing before and after exercising.
After your first trimester, avoid doing any exercises on your back, as this decreases blood flow to the uterus. Remember to always eat healthy to maintain energy, and drink plenty of water to avoid overheating. Avoid exercising in hot weather, as you are more prone to overheating, and this can cause dehydration and complications for your baby. Lastly, when exercising, wear clothes that will keep your body cool, shoes that provide adequate ankle and arch support, and a bra that will protect and support your breasts.
If you experience any of the following symptoms while exercising, stop immediately and contact Dr. Ayalon.
> Chest pain
> Shortness of breath
> Dizziness or headaches
> Vaginal bleeding or leaking fluid
> Muscle weakness, pain, or swelling
> Uterine contractions
> Decreased fetal movement
While exercising during pregnancy can help you shed the weight more easily after delivery, it is more than just about keeping your body toned. Incorporating fun exercise activities into your routine can make your pregnancy more pleasant while keeping you and your baby healthy. Just remember to exercise the right way and closely monitor your body. Talk with Dr. Ayalon about how you can stay active during your pregnancy and tips on how to be more aware of your body’s reaction to certain activities. Women with high risk pregnancies should consult Dr. Ayalon about their plans for exercise to determine what activities are appropriate and safe for them.
After your delivery, make sure you have healed completely before starting your exercise routine again in full swing, especially if you have had a C-section. If getting back to your routine is difficult, start with walking to build up your strength and stamina for more strenuous activity in the future. As you gain strength, consider taking your baby on walks with you, as this is a nice way for both of you to spend time together outside of your home. Continue to eat healthy, stay active, and enjoy spending time with your baby!
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