Exercise in pregnancy
Exercise should form an important part of our daily lives. Exercise promotes a sense of well-being. Daily routine activity such as climbing stairs, walking to the train or bus stop, shopping for groceries, all involve some form of exercise. But yet it is important to do exercise in an organized manner for a fixed period of time. Further it is important to do exercise in pregnancy. The aim of exercise during pregnancy is to stay fit. Exercise improves muscle tone, strength and endurance. It makes it easier to carry the weight one gains during pregnancy. It helps relieve tiredness, lower back pain and reduce varicose veins and swelling of the feet and ankles. Exercise during pregnancy may help to prevent development or worsening of medical problems such as diabetes and blood pressure in pregnancy. Exercise during pregnancy helps to prepare for the physical challenge of labor. Appropriate exercise can help women to have shorter duration of labor.
Exercise may be of two types :
- Aerobic exercise: – such as swimming, running, fast walking, aqua aerobics and dancing.
- Uscle strengthening exercise. This involves slow, controlled movements that help build strength of certain muscle groups and weight bearing exercises.
It is advisable to do exercise with a trainer or instructor who is aware of the special needs during pregnancy. There are various videos by fitness specialist that can provide some guidance. There are many professionally trained persons
that run antenatal classes also called Lamaze classes. You can look for one in your neighborhood.
During exercise it is advisable to :
- Drink lots of water before and during exercise
- Avoid over-exerting yourself
- Avoid exercising in a very hot and humid climate
- Avoid exercises which involve lying flat on the back
- Do warm-up and cool-down exercises
- Consider wearing pelvic support belts during exercise
- Avoid exercise at altitudes over 2500 meters
- Avoid sports where there is a risk of being hit in the abdomen, such as kickboxing, or falling due to running such as football, horse riding and cycling.
- Avoid scuba diving for entire pregnancy because the baby has no protection against decompression sickness and gas embolism under water.
After delivery one can start walking and simple stretches immediately, and then gradually progress in intensity and duration. Pelvic floor exercises are particularly useful to tone the perineum.
When one is exercising then one should look out for the following symptoms. And if any of this happens then one should stop exercise
- feeling faint/ giddy
- Pain or palpitations in your chest
- Pain in your abdomen, back or pubic area
- Weakness in your muscles
- Painful uterine contractions or preterm labor
- Fewer movements from baby
- Leakage of ‘waters’ (amniotic fluid)
Under these circumstances one must seek the opinion of the doctor. So go ahead, shape up and get fit. Power your labor with all your energy and enjoy it fully.