Pregnancy is not an illness; it’s a time to slow down and be gentle with oneself. However, it may come with some nagging issues. For example, you can have backaches, swollen ankles, insomnia, bloating, and constipation. To prevent this, staying active from the beginning is good. In addition, it is good to have a well-thought-out exercise regimen.
Working out when expecting a baby benefits both the mom and the infant. It usually cheers one up; many pregnancy symptoms disappear while you have a quicker postpartum recovery. The baby also enjoys better heart health, lower BMI, and enhanced brain health. If you are not into exercising, please reach out to a qualified instructor or a prenatal consultant to work out a safe regime customised for you.
Being active during pregnancy is an entirely safe process. However, if you are already into exercising, make relevant pregnancy-specific modifications.
Exercise During Pregnancy: Is it Safe?
The best person to visit is the doctor to know if exercising during pregnancy is safe. Your medical practitioner can suggest the best exercises for pregnancy as well. A lot of healthy pregnant women do training before delivering their babies. If there are no pregnancy complications, activities will not harm you or increase your risk of miscarriage. You will not be at the risk of a premature baby, i.e., born 37 weeks before gestation, or a baby whose birth weight is low, i.e., less than 5 pounds.
How Much Should You Exercise When Pregnant?
Taking complete care of how much exercise you do every week is essential. It is crucial to go for at least moderate-level aerobic activity. Aerobic activities are instrumental for making your heart beat faster via deep breathing at a vigorous rate. E.g., when you take a brisk walk. But make sure that you do not overdo it and run out of breath while talking.
You do not need to do it over a single stretch. You can do it in short segments throughout the whole week. Set the pace for 30 minutes of exercise each day or most days of the week. You can also do three new activities for 10 minutes a day, three times daily. Also, take special care during the fourth trimester. As per research, it is the most crucial for the initial growth and development of the baby. But be consistent with whatever and whenever you choose to do your workout.
Benefits of Physical Activity During Pregnancy
Regular exercise can be excellent for pregnant women. The many ways it can help include:
- It can keep your body and mind stay fit and sound.
- It will rejuvenate you and make you stronger.Exercise aids in keeping your heart, lungs, and blood vessels healthy.
- It will also help you maintain the exact weight during your pregnancy.
- It will give you some relief from common discomforts of pregnancy like constipation, back pain, and swelling in the legs, ankles, and feet region.
- It is an excellent stress buster and also improves sleep patterns.
- A good workout can manage the pressure or strain you feel towards carrying out responsibilities.
Have you heard about pregnancy complications like gestational diabetes and preeclampsia? Pregnant women get gestational diabetes due to excess glucose in the blood. Preeclampsia concerns high blood pressure, which some women get after the 20th week of pregnancy or probably after birth. These conditions can lead to premature birth and affect the poor newborn baby. Exercise can help deal with this pain better. It also aids in restricting cesarean delivery or c-section. Therefore, exercising and staying fit can be a way to prepare your body for labour naturally.
Heard about parental yoga and pilates? Make sure to sign up for the same, as it is extremely helpful in calming you down. In addition, you learn new breathing techniques and meditation, which helps you deal with the pregnancy well.
Reference Exercise Plan for Pregnant Women
Experts believe that a pregnant woman’s goal for her first trimester should be in complete moderation. Go for exercises that do not cross 90% of your heart’s beats per minute. Here are some of the exercises that a pregnant woman can consider.
Walking & Running
The most basic exercises yet effective on the list must be walking and running. Studies have found these exercises to be the best cardiovascular workouts for pregnant women. Just ensure you have a pair of comfortable shoes to support you in building endurance and strengthening your heart. You can continue walking at a moderate pace till your due delivery date. It is the ultimate form of exercise. Your heart rate should always increase moderately, start at a slow pace, and gradually increase. Sprinting is unnecessary if you are regular and consistent in your workouts.
Let’s talk about full-body exercises that are advantageous and safe for pregnant women. It has to be swimming with its cardiovascular benefits. It aids in muscle-building for the arms and legs. It is constructive in reducing swelling of arms and legs while it creates quite an impact and eases the pain in the case of women suffering from lower back pain.
Dancing and Other Aerobic Workouts
Dancing is another excellent form of exercise which you can take on along with other moms-to-be. Your routine should not include jumping, twirling, or leaping but keep your heart pumping to your favourite tunes. If you are not fond of dancing, you can join a group dancing session, especially for expecting moms. In prenatal exercise classes, you will feel cheerful and motivated due to the camaraderie of future moms and feel satisfied as every step will be towards a safe workout.
Stationery Cycle or Spinning
Let us now talk about cycling as a pretty productive activity as an exercise. You can continue to cycle during your fourth trimester but switch to a stationary one from your 2nd trimester. This is to make sure that you do not fall off the cycle. You can also opt for a spinning class if approved by your physician. Be careful while pursuing any kind of sports like basketball, soccer, surfing, gymnastics, or mountain biking. Prioritise your safety and comfort.
Yoga is a favourite amongst to-be moms as it helps tone muscles and improves flexibility while putting less stress on your tender joints. Even studies have proved regular yoga to be a healthy routine for pregnant women. Mix a light jog routine or a swimming session at least once or twice weekly. However, you must be careful to avoid poses that require you to rest on your back. It might pressurise your vena cava, leaving you feeling dizzy, nauseous, and exhausted.
You can go for pilates once or twice a week to challenge and develop your core strength. In addition, it helps improve balance and works wonders for your lower back pain. Also, keep in mind to avoid overexerting yourself, especially during stomach stretches. Finally, suppose pilates or yoga does not work for you. In that case, simple stretching for a couple of minutes via cardiovascular exercises is an excellent way to complete your workout.
Strength training is relatively safe. As per research, you should follow the pregnancy-related guidelines to the T. Also, do not forget to consult your doctor if you plan to start weight training. It is always good to throw in some free weights or begin to ride weight machines slowly and steadily. You should avoid holding weights over your belly.
The HealthifyMe Note
Certain types of workouts will aid in the good maintenance of your health while keeping your baby completely safe. However, you must exercise under the guidance of a fitness coach or as suggested by your doctor to avoid any health risks. Also, you should always be well hydrated and pack in at least 20-30 minutes of exercise daily, no matter what.
Essential Tips for Safe Workouts During Pregnancy
Listen to Your Body
It is essential to listen to your body. It would be best not to start exercising vigorously when pregnant. Only going for scheduled checkups will not help if you do not pay any heed to your body. It would help if you learned to understand the triggers in your body.
It is okay if you feel weak for a bit. Sweating is also a good sign if you do not drench yourself thoroughly. However, vigorous exercise is not suitable for expecting women. Therefore, please keep the intensity low to moderate. The point is to feel energised throughout the day and carry the additional weight with ease and grace. The idea is also to stay happy and have a mind-body balance.
Know When Something is Wrong
This point is critical. You must stop exercising if you notice pain in your calves, swelling, or muscle weakness. If the pain seems unusual, consult a doctor immediately. If you feel giddy or lack balance, you should stop exercising. You might experience cramps, contractions, chest pain, or a rapid heartbeat. You can have difficulty walking, sudden headaches, or experience light-headedness. Take notice of any enhanced swelling, bleeding, or loss in fetal movement after the 28th week.
Keep Off Your Back
It is the fourth month, after which you should avoid exercises that involve lying on your back or standing in one place for prolonged periods since your uterus will expand and can constrict your blood vessels and minimise circulation.
Avoid Certain Movements
You can take care by avoiding specific movements like double leg lifts or full sit-ups. Likewise, you do not dive into deep backbends, flexing or joint extensions, bouncing, jumping, or sudden jerky motions.
Keep Yourself Hydrated
Now that we have been talking so much about exercises, there is another part you should take care of: drinking glasses of water. Replenish your body with enough water for half an hour of walking or a mild workout. Hydration is vital, especially if the weather is hot and you are sweating profusely. You can keep yourself hydrated 30-45 minutes before a workout and keep sipping water all day before and after.
The key to doing all of the above is motivation. You can choose a simple pregnancy workout routine for yourself or a rather difficult one. But sometimes, you fail at both as you lose motivation. So instead, try to switch between workouts and keep it interesting for each day. So that on days you feel lazy, you will still drag yourself towards the yoga mat and do a fun-filled workout. The idea is not to chase an impossible body image but to stay happy and active. If a swim makes you happy, go for one. But on another day, ditch the pool and go for a walk if that’s what you want.
Avoid Activities that are Not Safe During Pregnancy
Activities that are not safe include jerky, bouncy movements like horseback riding, off-road cycling, skating, or other sports like ice hockey, basketball, soccer, and boxing. In addition, scuba diving can hurt the baby as the gas bubbles are dangerous while also causing decompression sickness.
Watch Out for the Warning Signs
You should call your medical practitioner when you experience symptoms like vaginal bleeding or fluid leakage, chest pain, faster heartbeat, or difficulty breathing. Other symptoms include feeling faint or dizzy, headaches, muscle weakness, pain, or swelling in the lower legs. You should also stop if your baby stops moving and becomes stagnant. Studies have named this condition stillbirth.
The HealthifyMe Note
Whether you have not exercised all your life or someone who is an athlete in her top form, it is crucial to consult a physician and create a customised plan for your good health. A doctor is aware of your medical conditions or risks your body is prone to and will be the most suited advisor.
All of the above is to assist you in a smooth pregnancy. If you give birth without complications, you can start exercising again within a few days or weeks. Based on whether it’s a C-section or a standard procedure, start whenever you feel ready, and your doctor gives the go-ahead. But suppose you have had complications during birth. In that case, it is always better to wait for 10-12 weeks before you start exercising again. After that, your body should feel rested and ready to work out again! However, if you keep yourself active during the pregnancy, it is easier to fall back into a routine. So do what suits your body best!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. What exercises should be avoided during pregnancy?
A. When pregnant, avoid activities that will cause mild trauma in your abdomen. It would help if you also stayed away from exercises that require you to lay on your back with rapidly changing directions or the ones with jarring movements. In addition, please avoid extensive jumping, hopping, skipping, or bouncing, especially while stretching. Deep knee bends, full sit-ups, and double leg raises are a strict no-no.
Q. Can you do squats while pregnant?
A. Squats are incredibly safe and highly recommended for pregnant women. It is a good resistance exercise to maintain strength and movement in the hips, glutes, pelvic floor muscles and core. If performed correctly, squats can help correct posture and assist with the birthing process.
Q. Can I plank while pregnant?
A. Planks are endurance-based static exercises that are perfectly safe to perform during pregnancy. They are ideal as they put less pressure on the spine than other exercises like crunches, as planks can help strengthen your abs and back.
Q. Can I jump while pregnant?
A. Usually, light exercises are preferable during pregnancy and not jumping. High jumps could result in vaginal bleeding and harm the baby. In addition, jumping while pregnant can lead to preterm labour or miscarriage.
Q. In which month should I start exercise during pregnancy?
A. As far as exercises are concerned, you can start exercising as soon as you feel comfortable and continue as long as possible. You can continue performing any workouts you usually perform before pregnancy for around 13 weeks unless there are any risks. Your baby bump will keep growing; you must adjust accordingly.
Q. Can you do pushups while pregnant?
A. They are the best form of workout for the upper body in pregnant women. Performing pushups is a perfect way to improve your build strength, so doctors often recommend pregnant women to perform light pushups.
Q. Can you get in better shape while pregnant?
A. Yes, you can tone your body and maintain a good shape when pregnant through the consumption of nutritious food and by following a good workout routine. You can perform many light workouts, including walking, yoga, etc., while pregnant, which can help you improve your shape.
Q. How many minutes should a pregnant woman walk a day?
A. Walking is an excellent form of exercise, and pregnant women should at least walk for 30 minutes on most if not all days of the week. Walking is also suitable for pregnant women who have not done exercises or workouts before.
Q. Can you do burpees while pregnant?
A. You can do burpees safely through the first trimester of pregnancy. After that, they can continue further depending on the expecting mother’s health. However, in most cases, doctors advise against pregnant women doing burpees during the second and third trimesters.
Q. Which trimester is most critical?
A. The first trimester, i.e., up to 13 weeks, is the most crucial for the baby’s development. During this period, the organ structures of the baby start to develop. This trimester is vital because most miscarriages and congenital disabilities also occur during this period.