Healthy mama, healthy baby is a phrase we’re familiar with. But, unfortunately most mamas are wary and cautious about exercising during pregnancy. Not to forget the exhaustion, swollen ankles, backaches, bloating and more that comes with pregnancy, making exercising a not-so-attractive option.
While wrestling isn’t best taken up during pregnancy, 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day is good for both mama and baby. The type of activity you engage in will depend on your trimester.
In the initial stages of pregnancy, activity levels can be the same as pre-pregnancy (if exercise was a part of your lifestyle) but with extra rest and more breaks, given the physiological and hormonal changes, mamas go through. As you move along with your pregnancy, modifications will be required.
Regular exercise has shown to keep gestational diabetes at bay and blood pressure under check. To help you get started, we’ve listed a few basic exercises for to-be-mamas to consider.
Walking is considered a low impact exercise. Find yourself an even path or trail for a stroll, and begin with 10 to 15 minutes a day, 3 to 5 times a week, eventually working your way up to 30 minutes. Don’t forget to swing your arms while you walk, to keep them toned.
For jogging or running enthusiasts, only consider it if you have engaged in either pre-pregnancy. Make sure you stick to flat terrains and avoid straining yourself since pregnancy can make working out harder on your knees.
Consider swimming your best friend during pregnancy. This soothing exercise is another low impact exercise, which helps you feel lighter and more agile. 30 minutes a day for 3 to 5 times a week, will not only give you a complete workout but will also strengthen your core.
Yoga, especially prenatal yoga, is one of the best pregnancy exercises. Yoga helps build strength and balance while encouraging relaxation, flexibility and deep breathing rhythms, which helps during delivery. Known to positively influence mental health and keep blood pressure in check, there are no limitations on the amount of time you should spend on yoga. Poses like back bending, abdominal twisting or lying on your back should be avoided. Bikram or ‘hot’ yoga is a no-go!
Best done with a trainer, weight training can help strengthen your body and prepare it to carry all that pregnancy weight. Using lower weights with more reps is a great way to tone your muscles. Avoid straining your abdomen or lying on your back with weights. Free weights work well, but ensure you have a trainer to monitor your breathing while training. Skip exercises that require you to hold still in a particular position, because if you accidentally forget to breathe (which is a common mistake), you could easily become lightheaded. Your ability to weight train will depend on whether you have trained pre-pregnancy.
In addition to the above, work on building and maintaining your core pelvic-floor strength during pregnancy. Pelvic-floor exercises also known as Kegels, help strengthen the pelvic muscle on contraction, while relaxing the muscle helps prepare for delivery.
Always remember to stretch for a good 5 minutes to prep your muscles for exertion. A cool-down post workout is equally important. Switch to slower exercises and stretch any tight muscles at the end of an intense workout session.
Remember to start small and pace your exercises. Most importantly, listen to your body and do not work yourself to the point of exhaustion. The intention is to strengthen your body and prepare it for changes. Regular exercises can help you cope better with the physical and mental changes, pregnancy brings with it, not to mention the increase in stamina which preps you for times post-pregnancy.
Ensure you wear breathable clothes with a good support bra, and shoes designed for the type of exercise you are engaging in to avoid injuries. Most importantly, hydrate. Hydration is key before, during and after your workout.
If you’re unsure whether a particular activity is safe during pregnancy, makes sure to check with your doctor.