Staying active and fit during your pregnancy is very important not only to the welfare of your baby, but also to you, as it will help you with the labour process and to get back into shape after birth. Starting an exercise program early on will help facilitate a healthy pregnancy.
Safe pregnancy exercises
Not all forms of exercise are safe, but these guidelines should give you an indication on how to get going:
* To avoid any abdominal discomfort, exercise a minimum of two hours after eating
* Warm up before and cool down afterwards so that your muscles are supple
* Be sure to drink lots of water before, during, and after your workout so that you are constantly hydrated
* Exercise regularly – try to do something three times a week, even if it just walking for half an hour
* Don’t ever overdo it! Remember that you are pregnant, and therefore should not be doing anything that is too strenuous. You should be able to have a conversation during your pregnancy exercises – if talking makes you breathless then it’s time to take it down a notch
The safest forms of exercise for a healthy pregnant mother are swimming and walking, so you don’t have to go lift weights or jump on the step machine – you can simply walk around the block if you don’t have access to a pool. Yoga is also a great form of stretching and exercise, just make sure that your instructor knows how far along you are.
There are, of course, some exercises that you should avoid altogether. Pregnancy affects your body in a number of ways, so with your centre of balance being shifted, strain on your lower back and thinner abdominal muscles, stay away from the following:
* Double leg raises
* Full sit-ups
* Hopping, jumping, skipping
* Any exercises that cause or require you to arch your back
* Any exercise or movement which requires fast action or moves and a good balance – this will be difficult for you to do anyway
Very importantly, do not do any exercises where you are on your back for longer than one minute. The weight of your baby bump will put pressure on the main blood vessel that brings blood back to your heart, and ultimately, cause you to faint.
You will very quickly discover what you can and can not do, so be sure to listen to your body. This is not the time for you to take on a whole new sport, so take it slow. If in any doubt, speak to your doctor first to get further advice.
What were your favourite pregnancy exercises when you were expecting?