Exercise During Pregnancy

Following  a daily exercise routine throughout the nine months of your pregnancy can help you keep  healthy and make you feel best. Exercise makes your posture get better and reduces some common discomforts such as fatigues and backaches. Evidence shows it may save you from gestational diabetes (diabetes which develop during pregnancy), decreases stress, and  increases stamina required for labor and delivery.

Women who were physically active prior to their pregnancy should continue their activity with modifications as required. The women can exercise at their previous pace with the approval of your doctor. They should choose low impact aerobics rather than high impact. Make sure your heart beat doesn’t go beyond 140 beats a minute. 

In case you haven’t done any exercise before you got pregnant, you can start an exercise routine during pregnancy as well but after consulting your doctor. However, don’t try for a laborious activity. Swimming and walking are considered safe options to begin with during pregnancy. Moderate exercise for 30 minutes or more on most if not all days of the week is recommended if you don’t face an obstetric or medical complication.

Who should Not Exercise?

Women who experience a medical condition, like heart disease, Type1 diabetes and asthma aren’t advised to exercise. Exercise may prove to be more harmful than beneficial for women suffering from obstetric conditions like:

  • Bleeding or spotting
  • Weak cervix

Don’t do aerobics if you have:

  • Restrictive lung disease
  • Multiple gestation
  • Hemodynamically significant heart disease
  • Multiple gestation
  • Incompetent cerclage/cervix
  • Consistent bleeding in second or third trimester
  • Premature labor
  • Placenta previa after 26 weeks
  • Premature labor 
  • Pregnancy-induced/preeclampsia hypertension
  • Broken membranes

During pregnancy, be cautious with aerobic exercises if:

  • Severely anemic
  • Unexamined maternal cardiac arrhythmia
  • Mismanaged type 1 diabetes
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Severe underweight (BMI<12)
  •  Severely horrible obesity
  • Sedentary lifestyle in past
  • Uncontrolled hypertension
  • Orthopedic  limitations
  • Fetal growth restriction
  • Chain smoking
  • Mismanaged seizure disorder 
  • Uncontrolled hyperthyroidism

Take advice from your doctor before beginning any exercise. Your doctor will give you a personalized exercise strategy according to your medical background.

Which Exercises can you do during Pregnancy

You can do most exercise during pregnancy. The only condition is you take precautions and exert yourself.

The most useful and the safest activities are stationary cycling; swimming, brisk walking, and low-impact aerobics (learn this from a certified aerobics trainer). These activities have little risk factor for injury, useful for your whole body and you can continue them till delivery.

Racquetball and tennis are usually considered safe activities but the change in your balance during pregnancy may impact quick movements. You can do running and jogging in moderation. Most probably you may want to go for activities or exercises for which you do not need great balance or coordination, especially later in your pregnancy.

Which Exercises Should you Avoid During Pregnancy?

Certain activities and exercises can be harmful during pregnancy. So, avoid:

  • Holding the breath while doing any activity
  • Contact sports like football, basketball etc
  • Activities which need high skipping, jumping etc
  • Bounce during stretching
  • Sports needing heavy exercise
  • Scuba diving
  • Activities where likelihood of falling is more like horse riding, skiing etc
  • Any exercise which may result in mild abdominal trauma, no matter how mild it is
  • Full sit-ups, both leg raise, deep knee bends and toe touching while standing straight
  • Exercise in hot, humid conditions
  • Exercise where you have to lie on the back for more than 3 minutes, especially after the third month
What should your Exercise Programme look like?

To get fully fit, your exercise program should be able to condition and strengthen your muscles.

Always start with 5 minutes of warm up and 5 minutes of stretching. Include a minimum 15 minutes of cardiovascular activities. Measure your heart rate at proper intervals. After aerobics, do gradually slower exercises which end with mild stretching for 5-10 minutes.

Some basic exercise guidelines are:

  • Wear loose and comfortable clothes and also a good quality support bra
  • Exercise on an even surface to avoid injury
  • Eat at least 1 hour prior to exercise
  • After doing exercises on the floor, slowly stand up to prevent dizziness
  • Never overdo. If you can’t talk normally during exercise, mean you’re doing it beyond your capacity
  • Choose shoes meant for the specific exercise. Proper shoes are the best type of safety harness against an injury
  • Take sufficient calories according to your pregnancy and exercise needs
  • Keep yourself hydrated before, during and after the exercise session
Which Physical Changes may Impact My Ability to Exercise?

When you’re pregnant, the physical changes demand extra from your body. Considering the below given points, don’t forget to make the required changes in your exercise or activities routine. 

  • The hormones your body process in pregnancy results in stretching of ligaments which support your joints
  • The developing baby inside you and other changes in your body need more energy and oxygen
  • The uneven weight distribution and extra weight changes the centre of your gravity. This extra weight stresses your muscles and joints in your pelvic area and lower back. This makes your falling easier

When to Quit?

Quit if you:

  • Experience abdominal pain, consistent contractions, and pelvic pain
  • Feeling light-headed, nauseated, faint or dizzy
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Short of breath
  • Muscle weakness
  • Chest pain
  • Severe headaches
  • Sudden flow of fluid from the vagina
  • Difficulty in walking

Consult your doctor if any of the above given condition/s continue even after you’re done exercising.

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