exercise during pregnancy

It’s Not Too Late to Start Exercising

If you cannot start exercising during your pregnancy, you can read this article, which provides detailed information about exercise during pregnancy.

When Colleen Coleman of Rantoul, Ill. became pregnant, she decided to start an exercise regimen even though she had never before exercised regularly. She had heard exercise was good for the baby and that it could make her labor easier, so she began walking two or three times a week.

When Coleman was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, she learned that exercise could help control her blood sugar, so she increased her walking to six or seven days a week, using a NordicTrack during inclement weather.

Check our article about gestational diabetes : Diabetes and Pregnancy – You Can Still Have a Healthy Baby

Expectant mothers like Coleman are not unusual. Just as some women quit smoking or begin making healthier food choices when they become pregnant, some women begin an exercise program.

A Good Thing

Benefits of exercise include better circulation, the release of endorphins – which make women feel better – and stronger back muscles that will decrease back pain. But one of the best benefits of exercise during pregnancy is that it prepares women for the hardest physical work they will ever do: labor and delivery.

“The general advice is to go slow, don’t do anything that hurts, and obviously, people need to check with their midwife or doctor to make sure there are no restrictions,” says Wilma Taylor, senior technical advisor of professional services.

A Brisk Walk

Walking is the first type of exercise Taylor recommends for pregnant mothers who have not been exercising regularly, and she suggests they walk with a friend. “Often women are not accustomed to exercise because they don’t enjoy it,” Taylor explains. By making it a social event, women are more likely to stick with it.

Walking is also inexpensive and doesn’t require special training or equipment other than a good pair of shoes. Women should walk briskly, but not so fast that their pulse goes beyond 140. According to Taylor, it’s usually not a problem if a mother is out of shape because she will feel her heart racing and get out of breath before her heart rate gets that high.

Pelvic Exercises

When Tammy Hughes of Southfield, Michigan became pregnant, her midwife suggested she begin doing some simple pelvic exercises in addition to walking.

The pelvic tilt can be done while standing or on your hands and knees. When standing with hands on hips and feet slightly farther apart than your shoulders, simply tilt your pelvis forward then back. Repeat this five to 10 times.

While on hands and knees with knees placed shoulder-width apart, pull your pelvis forward, then straighten the back and repeat 10 times. Doing this while on hands and knees means the back will arch like an angry cat. These exercises can help strengthen back muscles, and many pregnant mothers find that simply getting on their hands and knees makes their back feel better because it takes the weight of the baby off their back.

Squats

Hughes’s midwife also suggested she practice squatting. Although squatting is an excellent position for labor and birth, many American women are unable to maintain this position for an extended period of time because they are not accustomed to it. By squatting frequently during pregnancy, the necessary muscles can be strengthened in preparation for labor.

Hughes would stand with her back flat against the wall and squat for five to 10 minutes, which she admits was difficult in the beginning. Moms who are not able to do that should still squat whenever they have to pick up something off the floor. Although everyone has heard that we should lift with our legs, not our back, many people ignore this sage advice. During pregnancy, it is especially important to squat when lifting even light objects to avoid back pain and injury, because the back is already under a great deal of additional strain due to the added weight of pregnancy.

Go For a Swim

Summers also recommends swimming. The buoyancy of the water makes moms feel great, especially at the end of pregnancy. In addition to the muscular and cardiovascular benefits of swimming, simple immersion in water has been shown to reduce edema, or swelling, in pregnant women’s legs.

Prenatal Yoga

Yoga is another form of exercise that Taylor says is great for pregnant women. Carrie Weaver, a certified Kripalu yoga instructor and nurse, teaches prenatal classes for about 40 women in the Boston, Mass. area.

“A lot of people call and say, ‘I’m so out of shape. Can I take your class?’” says Weaver, who estimates that 30 percent of her students did not exercise regularly prior to becoming pregnant. “Increased focus for labor, that’s a major benefit of prenatal yoga and contact with the breath, which is very important to move through labor.”

When women sign up for one of her weekly classes, they also receive a video so they can practice the yoga postures at home between classes. But one of the biggest benefits of joining a class is the social aspect: Women can make new friends in prenatal exercise classes, which is motivation to continue attending the class.

Also take a look at this article to learn more about pregnancy yoga : Doing Yoga in Pregnancy

One of the best things about starting to exercise during pregnancy is that if it becomes a habit, you may continue after your baby is born. Not only will you benefit from regular exercise, but you also will set a good example for your child.

Tips for a Safe Workout

  • Don’t do anything that hurts.
  • Keep your heart rate below 140 beats per minute.
  • Drink plenty of water during exercise.
  • Start slowly and gradually build up your strength and endurance.
  • Avoid walking or exercising outdoors in the hottest part of the day.
  • Exercising three times a week is a good goal.

Our articles are prepared to give advice. Always consult your doctor first for any problems and exact information.

The names of the people mentioned in the article have been changed for security reasons and to protect privacy.

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