Pregnancy Exercises

   

When properly performed, pregnancy exercises help expectant mothers to experience happier, healthier pregnancies.  The benefits of exercise do not stop there: research also shows that exercising during pregnancy is good for baby as well!  Though the benefits are numerous, many women are leery of beginning exercises for pregnant women simply because they don’t know how to safely start and maintain a regimen of pregnancy exercises.  However, with a doctor’s guidance, and by listening to her body, any woman can reap the advantages of exercising -- right up until her baby’s birth.

 

Before beginning any exercise routine, it is crucial that you discuss your goals with your physician, who will help you to:

  • Evaluate your current fitness level.
  • Develop a safe, beneficial exercise plan.
  • Provide a list of guidelines to follow for your, and your baby’s, health.
  • Help you modify your workouts as your baby grows and your body changes.

Pregnancy is a wondrous time, but also a period of vast changes for a woman’s body and mind.  As pregnancy progresses, many women have discomforts including an aching back, interrupted sleep, irregular bowel movements, and possibly even depression.  The good news is that exercises for pregnant women are a great way to overcome many of the aches of pregnancy.  Pregnancy exercises will:

  • Strengthen core muscles, improve posture, and prevent backaches.
  • Decrease constipation.
  • Increase quality of sleep.
  • Raise energy levels.
  • Boost mood and improve confidence despite body changes.
  • Prevent excessive fat gain during pregnancy and facilitate a quicker return to pre-pregnancy figure

Not only do pregnancy exercises help during pregnancy and the postpartum period, they are also beneficial during labor and delivery by increasing the mothers:

  • Strength
  • Endurance
  • Flexibility
  • Control of breathing during contractions and pushing.

Now that you are convinced of the benefits of exercising during pregnancy, what are some specific examples of exercises for pregnant women?

  • Walking – outside, or inside on a treadmill; aim for 20 minutes 3 times per week.
  • Swimming – especially good for an aerobic workout without putting extra strain on joints.
  • Water aerobics.
  • Yoga – increases both strength and flexibility.
  • Cycling – no impact on joints.
  • Elliptical machines.
  • Prenatal Exercise classes geared toward pregnant women.

Remember, the best exercise plans include aspects of strength, flexibility and aerobic conditioning.  As you exercise, use the “talk test” to gauge your effort level – if you can’t hold a conversation as you work out, you need to slow down!  Stop immediately if you feel:  dizziness, shortness of breath, or fatigue.  As you perform exercises for pregnant women, wear lightweight, comfortable clothing and drink plenty of water. 

A second category of pregnancy exercises are called Kegels.  Kegels are not like the typical exercise you would do in the gym; these exercises for pregnant women focus on a very specific, and crucial, group of muscles for birth and delivery.  These muscles, located in the rectum, vagina, and urethra, are collectively known as the “pelvic floor muscles.”   How to perform Kegel pregnancy exercises:

  • First, locate your pelvic floor muscles by pretending to stop your urinary flow; you should feel a squeezing or pulling sensation.  (Do not do Kegels to actually stop urinary flow as this could lead to a urinary tract infection.)
  • Hold the pelvic floor muscles for six seconds, then relax for six seconds.
  • Repeat this cycle 25 times, three times per day.
  • Remember not to hold your breath as you perform Kegels. 

Just by following these simple tips and guidelines, you will be on your way to a happier, healthier pregnancy and postpartum recovery.  So do your best, have fun, and before you know it, your baby will be here!

 

 

 
   
More than pregnancy exercises on our benefits of exercise page

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