Are you pregnant and want to know what exercises are safe during pregnancy? This article will give you a look at exercising when pregnant.
Exercise is an important part of life but pregnancy exercise can be a little tricky. In this article, we are going to talk about the benefits of exercising when pregnant and provide some helpful tips that will help make it easier for you and your changing body.
The American College of Obstetricians says “Women with uncomplicated pregnancies should be encouraged to engage in aerobic and strength-conditioning exercises before, during, and after pregnancy.”
Who should be exercising when pregnant?
Anyone and everyone should consider a movement routine. It can be five minutes a day, but any movement is good movement. Studies show that there are MANY health benefits to mom and baby when there is consistent movement during pregnancy.
How do you exercise during pregnancy?
– Planning: The first step to exercise during pregnancy is making a plan. When was your exercise program last reviewed? Many women start thinking about exercises pre-pregnancy so they can begin their prenatal workouts before their first trimester. If you have not been used to regular exercise before you got pregnant it’s important that you speak to your provider about your current health and come up with a realistic plan that can also withstand your changes during pregnancy. If you have spent long periods of time NOT working out, it’s even more important so your body can start getting ready for birth.
– Safety: The most important thing when being active while pregnant is to stay safe. Make sure you are exercising in a way that doesn’t put any unnecessary pressure on your body, in particular, your abdomen. Don’t overdo it either! Always be aware of your pregnancy and listen to your body.
– Stretching: Make sure you have a good stretching exercise routine that can keep your muscles from cramping up. You should always stretch before and after workouts so that you don’t hurt yourself when moving your body or put unnecessary pressure on the baby.
Stop exercising if you feel dizzy, short of breath, or nauseous. Injuries should be treated as soon as possible to avoid them getting worse. Remember that your body is already suffering the strain of pregnancy. Take it easy on yourself and know when to stop exercising
What are the best ways to exercise during pregnancy?
Prenatal yoga classes can be beneficial for pregnant women because they promote relaxation which reduces stress on the body and also provide physical flexibility (especially as your belly grows larger). Yoga is a great way to keep active when pregnant because it strengthens muscles without stressing joints or ligaments. Prenatal Yoga Classes offer a mix of aerobic exercises with stretching – giving you both benefits at once. Plus at the end of most classes, you get to lie on your back in “Shavasana” and just take in the world around you so you can relax. Trust us, life doesn’t get better than Shavasana!
When practicing yoga, wear loose-fitting clothing, try not to do your workouts in hot or humid conditions, staying well hydrated during these sessions, and making sure there is someone who can help if necessary. Consider limiting sessions to 30 minutes or less at first to see how your body handles that.
Low impact aerobic exercises are also another great option that is safe during pregnancy. These exercises allow you to move in a way that doesn’t put any unnecessary risk on your abdomen and baby and allows you to move your body slowly and gradually so you don’t lose your balance and also keeps your heart rate on target.
Low impact workouts minimize the risk of injury and typically lack sudden changes in direction which are great since your center of gravity will change throughout your pregnancy. Many low-impact aerobics involve lying flat on your back which removes the risk of falling and floor exercises can be just as challenging. Consider limiting workouts to 30 minutes here as well. Don’t overdo it, your health and your the health of your baby are more important than anything else, now and ever.
What to avoid during pregnancy exercise
Physical activity pregnant women should avoid unless specified by your health care provider:
- Downhill skiing
- Horseback Riding
- Contact Sports
- Scuba Diving because of decompression sickness
- Hot Yoga
- Ice Hockey
- High impact aerobics
- Sit-ups after the first trimester
Other things to avoid when you exercise during pregnancy:
- Don’t exercise to the point where you can’t talk normally when pregnant
- Keep your heart rate in its targeted position that you discussed with your provider
- Don’t exercise in hot environments when pregnant
- Avoid hot humid environments as well when staying active when pregnant
- Try not to move in ways that do not support your joints
- Do not exercise to the point of exhaustion during pregnancy
What are safe exercises to do during pregnancy?
Top exercises that are safe during pregnancy:
- Prenatal yoga
- Low impact aerobics classes
- Some strength training
- Aerobic activity
- Running (if you are experienced)
- Indoor cycling
- Elliptical machines
Other tips about pregnancy exercise:
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Wear loose-fitting clothing so you have room for you and your baby to grow
- Keep workouts to 30 minutes or less until you speak to your doctor
- Be mindful of your growing bump and don’t be risky during pregnancy
- Keep your health in check and speak to your provider often
- Pregnancy is beautiful, take plenty of photos along your journey
- Enjoy your quiet time, before you know it your baby will be beside you as you workout
Overlooked exercises during pregnancy
Kegels! exercises involve squeezing and releasing your pelvic floor muscles. The easiest way to locate these is by stopping the flow of urine while urinating. After locating them, you can squeeze them for about five seconds at a time then release them. You should do anywhere from three to ten repetitions each time you do this exercise.
Standing Pelvic Tilts! Standing pelvic tilts are done by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and then leaning forward at the hips to form a ninety-degree angle. The hips should be tucked under throughout the movement, holding them close to the body’s center. As you lean forward, engage the pelvic floor muscles and tilt your pelvis upward to form a curve in the spine at the lower back area. BE VERY careful as your pregnancy progresses so you don’t lose your balance. Always try to have someone in “yelling” distance when working out during your pregnancy just in case.
Lunges! Lunges are an effective exercise for pregnancy because they work the entire leg, working out both your quadriceps and hamstrings. This exercise can be done in a variety of ways depending on what you are trying to focus on. You can do front lunges (going from standing with feet shoulder-width apart then stepping forward about two feet), side lunges (taking one step to either the right or left while keeping feet pointed forward), and reverse lunges (taking one step backward).
Lunges are a great exercise for pregnant women because they allow you to get the blood flowing through your legs which can help with swelling. Lunging also increases strength in your pelvic floor muscles, exercising both at the same time!
Swimming! Swimming is great for pregnancy because not only does it allow you to work on strength and cardio, but also helps with the prevention of gestational diabetes. When working out while pregnant, swimming can be a great way to exercise while remaining buoyant in water which will help reduce stress on your joints as well.
Meditation! Yes, that ol’ thing. Your brain is a muscle just like any other muscle in your body. Sure you can sit and do sudoku all day to give it a workout, but it needs to rest too. This time can be a bit stressful, so think about taking a moment or two each day to relax your mind and meditate. There are a zillion different apps out there that deal with mediation, find one that’s in your budget and comfort zone and give it a try.
Exercising for just 30 minutes a day will help you maintain your sanity and physical health. You’ll feel less stressed, sleep better at night, and have more energy to care for yourself and your growing baby!
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How can pregnancy exercise help with birth?
Exercising when pregnant will benefit you when you go into labor. If you start an exercise program during your pregnancy, you can strengthen muscles in preparation for contractions and pushing!
Exercising when pregnancy can help the pelvic muscles and ligaments get stronger. Stronger pelvic muscles will be more efficient in pushing out a baby during labor, reducing how long it takes to push the baby through (which may reduce the risk of tearing).
Pregnant women who exercise also have less extra weight gain which is important for both mother and baby. Excess weight gain increases the chances of developing gestational diabetes which could lead to premature birth or worse.
Exercise during pregnancy also has been shown to increase endorphins – natural painkillers made by your brain that are released when you feel happy – as well as serotonin levels, another hormone produced by your brain known for its ability to regulate sleep patterns and moods.
Exercising when pregnant can also help to reduce the risk of post-partum depression after you have your baby. Furthermore, remaining physically active during pregnancy also improves sleep quality which is important since many women have trouble sleeping later in pregnancy.
Get your partner involved
Finding time to move your body is important. it’s also important to spend time with your partner. Maybe think about starting a routine with your partner during your pregnancy. Even going for a walk every day after dinner will do you both a lot of good. Enjoy this time together before your house is filled with baby giggles (and some cries too).
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Listen To Your Body!
Before exercising when pregnant it’s critical that you speak to your health care provider. They can give you the specifics about when it’s safe to exercise and how many days of the week are recommended. High blood pressure, vaginal bleeding, “racing” heart or chest pain, suspect ruptured membranes, pain or swelling anywhere, stiffness in your joints and muscles, and muscle weakness might all be warning signs that you’ll need to stop so please speak to your doc regularly and let them know about your exercise routine. Also remember: what is safe for one woman may not be safe for another. Talk with your own doctor about exercising while pregnant so they can tell which exercises would work best based on your individual health!
Even if you don’t end up committing to a workout, remember…
During your pregnancy, no matter if you are committing to an actual workout or not, please be careful about the way you move your body. Many moms-to-be are on guard when they are exercising when pregnant, but some forget it’s just as important to be aware when you are putting together the baby’s stroller or other gear. No heavy lifting, not now.
Try to keep moving even after delivery. Exercising while breastfeeding is also a good idea. Breastfeeding mothers who exercise regularly are less likely to have postpartum depression and can recover more quickly from childbirth. Moving around will help you feel better overall!
So skip the scuba diving, hot yoga, and horseback riding and listen to your body. Exercise during pregnancy, will benefit your health and get you ready for the birth of your kiddos. ALWAYS speak to your provider about your health plan and make sure that you have best pregnancy possible. For more detailed information you can visit the website of the American College of Obstetricians regarding pregnancy health care.