Pregnancy is a time when most women want to improve their health and regular physical activity can provide pregnant women with many benefits including health, social and emotional.
The good news for those of you who were already active before conceiving; if you are healthy and have a non complicated pregnancy; you can generally continue with your pre pregnant activities … keeping in mind you may need to modify / adapt your programme as your pregnancy progresses.
Having said that … it is very important to first consult your doctor or chosen health care professional for advice.
This is especially important for those of you who were sedentary before conceiving.
The benefits of exercising throughout your pregnancy (and beyond) are numerous. They include but not inclusive of; improving your posture, assisting in the preparation of the demands of labour, reduction in fatigue, weight control and improving overall muscle tone. Pregnancy exercise is a great stress relief and can also assist and promote good sleep. Socially, exercise is a great way to get out and about meeting other pregnant women who inturn can be a great support network for after you have your baby.
If you have a history of preterm labour, bleeding, incompetent cervix, multiple pregnancy, high blood pressure, placenta previa or recurrent bleeding exercise will not be recommended. So without repeating myself again and again – it is essential you check with your doctor or health care professional BEFORE you start exercising pregnant.
Suggestions of pregnancy exercises include; walking, water aerobics, swimming, pregnancy Pilates & Yoga – just to name a few. If you are doing group activities please make sure that the instructor is aware that you are pregnant. Preferably, enrol yourself in exercise programmes especially for pregnant women.
Please do not forget your pelvic floor exercises. I personally would see a physiotherapist to make sure you are doing them correctly. Strengthening your pelvic floor muscles will help you actively support and control your bladder and bowel during and after pregnancy and right through to menopause.
It is important to avoid contact sports and excessive stretching, especially in the third trimester. The hormones raging through your body, including relaxin, loosen your body’s ligaments which will increase the chance of sprains and/or injuries. It is also advisable not to lie flat on your back for long periods of time after the first trimester – exercises should be adapted to side lying.
Avoid raising your body temperature (using spas and exercising to the point of heavy sweating) and reduce the level of activity on hot days. It is also important to take into account that as your pregnancy progresses, so does your centre of gravity, altering your balance and coordination.
When exercising it is essential to wear light comfortable clothing (including a supportive bra & footwear), drink plenty of water …. And don’t over do it!
You need to stop exercising immediately of you suffer dizziness, chest pain, vaginal bleeding, pain, cramping, feel faint or lightheaded, or develop a headache.
If you are feeling tired or unwell – STOP! Listen to your body and be guided by it!
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