In the earlier days, pregnant women were advised against even carrying heavy things, let alone exercising so as not to harm the baby. Those times have gone, as women are now becoming more aware and leaving behind the outdated studies and misconceptions related to pregnancy and opting for prenatal workout.
Exercising is not only a good thing for the mothers but also for the baby. Not only do these exercises help the mother’s and baby’s health by reducing inflammation, as well as keeping the mother’s heart healthy by lowering the resting heart rate. Apart from these, there are some other major benefits like reducing the risk of miscarriage, as opposed to popular belief that exercising in pregnancy may risk having a miscarriage, exercising also helps reduce the risk of gestational diabetes, cesarean section, pre-term birth, and excessive weight gain. Also, exercising during pregnancy helps in shedding those extra pounds after the baby is born.
How Safe is Exercising During Pregnancy?
Any bodily activity that helps in the general well being or maintenance of health is known as exercise. Exercising during pregnancy is helpful as it helps improve posture and reduces backaches. Engaging in prenatal exercising is considered safe in most cases unless some underlying health issues need to be addressed beforehand. It is recommended that moms to engage in at least 20 to 30 minutes of exercising on a daily basis, they do not have to be so intense as to cause weight loss but allow the body some general movement and also for proper blood circulation; these include walking, swimming, low impact aerobics, prenatal yoga, etc.
Who Should Not Exercise During Pregnancy?
For a healthy and happy pregnancy, not only does eating a balanced diet has a great impact, but also following some exercise routine also helps a great deal. Prenatal workout, as it is called, involves a lot of low impact or less intense exercises that help in the overall well being and general health of the mother to be. Exercising during pregnancy helps in
- relieving backaches
- improves the posture
- helps in gestational diabetes
- improves mood
- relieves fatigue
- provides better sleep
- tones muscles and promotes strength and stamina
- It also helps with lowering the risk of miscarriage, pre-term birth, preeclampsia, and excessive weight gain
Despite having all these benefits, there are some risk factors that certain women may need to be aware of and also wary of if they suffer from underlying medical conditions like Asthma, Heart disease, and Diabetes.
In addition to these if someone has pregnancy-related issues like:
- low placenta
- recurrent miscarriage
- history of early labor
- weak cervix
Under such conditions as mentioned above, a woman should refrain from exercising without proper inputs. Talk to the doctor and work out a customized exercise plan that is best suited for someone with such medical conditions.
Benefits of Doing Exercise during Pregnancy
Pregnancy is said to start from the first day of a woman’s last period, and it lasts for about 40 weeks. A woman’s body in these 40 weeks undergo various changes, and there is extreme fatigue, morning sickness, and sleeplessness, etc. Therefore, keeping oneself fit in terms of physical and mental is of utmost importance during pregnancy.
As opposed to popular beliefs that pregnant women should not exert themselves so as not to risk any harm to the baby, today according to various studies it has been proven that exercising when one is pregnant is actually extremely beneficial to only to the overall general well being of the mother to be but also of the baby. Knowing about your nutritional needs during pregnancy also helps you prevent common pregnancy complications.
The main aim is not to lose weight but to help one’sone’s body in terms of improving blood circulation, mood elevation, and just be fit in the general sense. The types of exercises that are generally recommended include simple walks, swimming, low impact aerobics, hot yoga, etc. However, before embarking on this, it is advised to ascertain that one is not having any medical issues pertaining to heart disease, Asthma, and diabetes, plus other pregnancy-related issues like spotting, recurrent miscarriage, history of earlier labor, etc. In these cases, it advised taking the help of the doctor.
Benefits of Doing Exercise during Pregnancy
– For Moms
Even if a woman has never done any kind of exercise before, once she is pregnant, it becomes all the more important to embark on at least some form of exercise as even a simple walk every other day. It can help in avoiding the risk of developing gestational diabetes which is prevalent in most pregnant women. Let us see how exercising helps during pregnancy in the following points:
Gestational diabetes is something that is seen mostly in pregnant women; it develops commonly during the second and third trimester and disappears after giving birth. Gestational diabetes can cause serious pregnancy complications if not treated and can even develop into Type 2 diabetes later on. Exercising during pregnancy helps in avoiding the risk of developing gestational diabetes. Not only that, but working out during pregnancy also reduces the risk of having to go for cesarean section.
Helps curb excess weight gain and avoid delivery complications
Exercising early on when someone is pregnant helps in preventing excess weight gain, which in turn helps in macrosomic babies, which is babies that are heaving than 4 kilograms at birth. Such situations create a lot of problems for the mother at the time of delivery.
Helps with prenatal depression and mood swings
Women are more likely to develop depression when they are pregnant and exercising during the time that they are expecting helps in releasing endorphins, which trigger happy feelings in the body and thus helps with mood swings and depression.
Controlling blood pressure
Women are also likely to develop high blood pressure during pregnancy, which results in swollen feet, hands, and face. If not taken care of, then it can create complications for both the baby and the mother. Prenatal workouts help in keeping the mother’s blood pressure in check.
Ease back and pelvic pain
Once a woman is in her second or third trimester due to a growing baby bump that puts a lot of strain on the mother’smother’s back, and pelvic area can cause a lot of discomfort and pain. Exercising during those times helps in elevating such discomforts and helps in easing those.
During the first and trimester, women suffer from an energy slump, which causes extreme fatigue. To fight that exercising during pregnancy has been proven to help a lot in easing fatigue.
Exercising during pregnancy also helps women in improving their sleep since it has been seen that pregnant women have a harder time to get proper sleep.
– For Babies
Exercising during pregnancy is not only good for the mother, but it is also good for the baby. Studies done on mice and rats have shown the benefits of long term exercising done by the mother to be beneficial to the baby as well. Some of its benefits for babies are:
Reduced risk of diabetes
Studies done on rats have shown that those rats that engaged in exercising had babies with lower insulin sensitivity that continued into their adult lives
Reduced risk of brain damage
Another study shows that mice that were born to active parent mice have a lower risk of brain degeneration, which can lead to Alzheimer’s Alzheimer’s disease.
Lesser risk of obesity
One study showed Mice that were born to active parent mice have a lower risk of developing obesity and diabetes even when the mothers were kept on a high-fat diet.
According to various medical researches in the past, it was seen that human fetuses had a lower heart rate that stayed the same way even after they were born when the mother engaged in exercising when she was pregnant. This also confirms the direct effect of the prenatal workout on the fetus.
Important Guidelines for Exercises during Pregnancy
Though exercising during pregnancy seems to be a prerequisite for a healthy pregnancy as well as giving birth to a healthy baby. It is recommended that women only opt for low impact exercises that don’t harm them or their baby. Some of these exercises are low impact aerobics, swimming walks, etc. While opting for a particular exercise, it is important to follow a guideline.
1) Guidelines for what needs to be avoided
- Exercises that may cause trauma to the abdominal area, such as the ones where there are a lot of rapid changes in direction or movements.
- Exercises that involve intense jumping, skipping, bouncing, etc.
- Waist twisting activities
- Exercising in hot and humid weather
- Holding breath for long periods
- Exercises where falling seems likely
2) Guidelines for what needs to be kept in mind before planning exercise
- Wearing loose-fitting and comfortable clothes, a good sports bra.
- Choose a flat surface to exercise in order to avoid any injuries.
- Drinking plenty of water before, during and after exercising
- Maintaining a good level of nutrition
- Eating enough calories
Safe Prenatal Workout Exercises During Pregnancy
Every type of exercise is safe as long as it is not intense and involves a lot of rapid movements, intense jumping, bouncing, etc. Some exercises that are safe to be done by a pregnant woman are swimming, walking, aerobics, elliptical machines, etc. Additionally, jogging is also considered safe to opt for by pregnant women. In addition to the prenatal workout, taking prenatal vitamins during the pregnancy also contributes to the physical wellness of the mothers.
How to Start Your Exercise Routine During Pregnancy?
According to most studies, it is shown that 150 minutes of exercising per week has an incredible amount of benefits. These 150 minutes can either be five sessions of half an hour or three to four longer sessions. However, someone doesn’t need to hit these 150 minutes of exercise daily to reap the numerous benefits of exercising. If someone is not used to exercising before, they can start by a 5-minute exercise first and then consistently adding minutes to it. The only thing that needs to be kept in mind is avoiding high impact exercises. Such exercises include horse riding, skiing, etc. These exercises can cause trauma to the abdomen, and also, there is a risk of falling.
Exercising is necessary for a healthy mind as well as a healthy body. When it comes to exercising during pregnancy, benefits also reach out to the baby’s health. Opting for an exercise routine that is composed of low impact exercises is a good option, for example, yoga, Pilates, swimming and walking, etc.
Exercises should be done on a flat surface to minimize the risk of falling with proper shoes and loose breathable clothes. Proper nutrition should be taken care of, and there should be proper calorie intake not just to support the pregnancy but also to make up for the calories burned during exercising.