Staying fit during pregnancy is something every woman wants. Let us examine this issue in detail and help you to have a healthier pregnancy.
You are making history. Simply by running, kayaking, spinning or hiking, you are participating in a pregnant revolution. One of the startling revelations of the late 20th century was that being active during pregnancy is actually good for you. Centuries of a profound weariness of pregnancy led to one thing: confinement. But that’s all ending – and you’re making it happen.
Athletic, fit and enthusiastic women who are in touch with their bodies have continued to exercise during pregnancy and they feel great. The good news is that hundreds of recent studies on the effects of exercise on pregnancy have proven these active women right: Exercise during pregnancy is good for you. And it’s good for your fetus, too.
In fact, the overwhelming medical evidence pointing to the benefits of staying active during pregnancy – and not confining yourself to the couch – forced the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) to significantly revise their recommendations for exercise during pregnancy. In January of 2002, ACOG released new guidelines encouraging pregnant women to exercise regularly. Goodbye, confinement!
You can learn about pregnancy stages and get week by week pregnancy information in our website.
Cardiovascular exercise has become a fundamental part of our lives. Whether you visit the gym, the local track, the nearby park or the wilderness for your exercise, it’s not just for the workout. Sure, you’re thinking of increasing your lung capacity, improving blood flow to your heart, building muscle fibers and burning calories. The truth is, you’re also there to blow off steam, get out of the house, walk the dog, meet friends and refresh your perspective.
During pregnancy, you may crave exercise for the same reasons. But the symptoms of pregnancy (the nausea, fatigue and aches, for example) may keep you from making a move. That’s OK. You should know, however, that the benefits of regular exercise for you, your pregnancy and your fetus are significant. In fact, exercise may help control those annoying symptoms. Women who exercise regularly report greater overall happiness with their pregnancies.
During pregnancy, women find that exercise helps them establish a special relationship with their fetus. Many women notice that their baby moves differently during cardiovascular exercise. Research has shown that your fetus can actually feel the rhythmic movement of your exercise in the womb.
You should see our other articles and categories to learn the things you wonder.
An Easier Delivery
Regular exercise also pays off during the ultimate marathon: that of labor and delivery. It makes sense because, after all, stamina, flexibility and muscle strength are fundamental during labor. Exercise during pregnancy is intense training – your heart and lungs are working for two. You’ll feel it when you’re out of breath in the first five minutes of your workout and when you cut down on your distance and time targets because you feel worked in a fraction of the time. This is not because you are out of shape, it’s because your body is in overdrive. And if you keep it up, you’ll be in great shape for delivery.
What you may not realize is that your psychological training gives you a boost too. Exercise puts you deeply in touch with your body. You learn to listen to its signals of fatigue, thirst or tightness. During labor, your responsiveness means breathing, focusing and communicating with your muscles may be easier. Women who bike during pregnancy say that they treat the contractions like hill repeats, and that helps them breathe through labor. An ardent surfer said the contractions felt like waves getting stronger and stronger and then breaking.
To learn more about exercising during pregnancy : Room to Room Fitness Exercises Your Way Around the House
Medical studies looking at the deliveries of fit women find startling differences. Women who exercise regularly during pregnancy have fewer interventions during delivery: less oxytocin use to stimulate contractions, fewer Cesarean sections and less use of forceps to aid vaginal delivery. Compared to women who did not do regular cardio exercise during pregnancy, the active women had fewer complaints of pain, and they actually requested less epidural anesthesia.
As you would expect, the findings that fit women require fewer medical interventions during delivery reflects the fact that their labor is shorter and has fewer complications. An article in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology reported a shorter dilation phase (when the cervix opens) and a shorter pushing phase (when the baby passes through the vagina). Though every woman’s labor and delivery will be unique and ultimately unpredictable, regular exercise increases your chances of having labor that is shorter, easier and less painful.
Healthy Workout is Essential
If you’ve always been active, you’ll have an easier time keeping it up during pregnancy. If getting pregnant has made you want to improve your lifestyle and get fit, you’ll have the motivation to help you through.
The first trimester is often the hardest – fatigue and nausea take their toll on your enthusiasm. Keep in mind that your body is making the enormous adjustment to pregnancy and it takes time. Even though no one can see that you’re pregnant, you’ll feel it, especially when you exercise.
If you feel up to it, get out there and enjoy the workouts you love. The key in the first trimester is to do what suits you and to do it several times a week. Whether it’s aerobics, yoga, kickboxing or even tennis, surfing or cross-country skiing, try to do it at least three times a week for a half an hour at a time.
In the second trimester, you’ll have much greater stamina and really feel like working out. For most women, this is the trimester where they feel the most capable and confident. The key here is to watch out for the fetus. After about 12 weeks gestation, the uterus grows out of the pelvis into the abdomen, where it is not well protected behind the pubic bone. This means that falls and trauma become dangerous. You don’t have to be hit directly in the belly to have a problem either.
So rule out activities where you may fall, like skiing or inline skating. Mix up your activities this trimester too, so that you are combining good cardiovascular activities, like swimming, with weight-bearing ones, like hiking, to build muscle and bone strength.
In the third trimester, you can get an excellent workout in less time. The extra weight of pregnancy and the demands of your growing fetus mean that even a 15-minute walk around the block is a serious workout. So plan on exercising regularly, but focus on warming up, stretching and enjoying yourself, rather than on a fitness goal.
A good workout during pregnancy will get your heart rate up (your goal is about 135 to 145 beats per minute, or about 25 to 35 beats in a 15-second period). Checking your heart rate in the middle of your workout will give you a good sense for how hard your body is working. But an easier way to monitor your exertion is to see if you can carry on a conversation. If you can talk comfortably while exercising, you are not overexerting yourself.
Also check our another article about being fit in pregnancy : Fit and Pregnant How to Have a Healthy Pregnancy
If you feel too hot, tired or out of breath, slow down. Pregnancy is not the time to push yourself. You should not be worrying about your distance, times or shape right now. A moderate workout, where you get your heart rate up for a period but do not exercise to the point of exhaustion, is best during pregnancy.
Try to get a cardiovascular workout at least three times a week. Depending on your level of fitness, your workout should last between 15 and 40 minutes. Always include a five-minute period to warm up and five to cool down and stretch. This helps your body maintain healthy blood flow to your uterus and allows you to focus on breathing, balance and flexibility.
What about your ideas? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments section.
Talk to your doctor before embarking on a new pregnancy exercise regimen. Discuss your plans, and give your obstetrician a good idea of your current level of fitness. Your doctor may have concerns about exercise if you have any complications of pregnancy, like a low-lying placenta, high blood pressure or low fetal growth. More likely, your doctor will encourage you to stay active and to listen to your body. Watch out for contractions (these typically resolve with rest), bleeding, lightheadedness or simply feeling unwell.
Taking breaks during exercise is essential during pregnancy so that you check in with your body, snack and hydrate. Dehydration, overexertion, low blood sugar, exhaustion and injury happen because women do not stop and rest.
The best cardiovascular workout is something you look forward to. Taking out your dog, exercising with friends, having a good conversation over a long walk, listening to your favorite CD and getting fresh air are the healthiest reasons to exercise during pregnancy. Knowing how good this workout is for your pregnancy only makes it better. And a healthy lifestyle will benefit you for years to come. Keep moving: You’re making history, and you’re baby-to-be will thank you for it.
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.