Doing exercises during pregnancy bring lot of positive impact on the health and fitness of a pregnant mother. Prenatal Exercise is so beneficial that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that healthy women with uncomplicated pregnancies aim to exercise at least 20 to 30 minutes a day with moderate intensity on most or all days of the week. The ideal workout gets your heart pumping, keeps you limber, manages weight gain, and prepares your muscles to handle the physical demands of pregnancy and the postpartum period without causing undue physical stress for you or the baby. Also, research suggests that prenatal exercise may also lower the risk of developing gestational diabetes . If you’ve been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, exercise can help you manage the condition and prevent complications.
Consult your healthcare provider before starting any exercise program. If you get the go-ahead to work out, be sure to listen to your body. Don’t overdo it, stop if it hurts or feels uncomfortable. And before you put on your sneakers, learn the rules of safe pregnancy exercise. Many gyms and community centers offer fitness classes designed specifically for pregnant women and have instructors who can offer expert guidance on exercising safely.
Initial exercises for a pregnant woman:
- Brisk walking
- Prenatal yoga
- Stretching and etc.
And also, there are specific exercises that you can do trimester wise, specially you should be careful in the 3rd trimester. For safe pregnancy exercises, better to check with your healthcare provider first, get enough calories, skip dangerous sports, wear the right clothes, warm up, drink plenty of water, don’t lie flat on your back, keep moving, don’t overdo it, don’t exercise in high heat or humidity, get up from the floor slowly, cool down, make it a habit.
While the exercise has been established as a safe practice for women who are pregnant, there are risks that can make it dangerous for some women with medical conditions. Firstly, the hormones stimulated during pregnancy have the potential to induce premature contractions, although the actual risk of this event has not been investigated. Exercise also causes blood to be redistributed from internal organs to skeletal muscle and as a result there is a significant reduction in oxygen and nutrient delivery to the placenta.
Potential mechanisms behind why exercise during pregnancy can be a risk have been identified, yet there have been no studies that have shown these have a significant effect on fetal wellbeing. The major concerns include:
- Premature contractions can potentially be induced by the hormones that are stimulated by exercise
- Increased glucose consumption from working muscles could affect fetal glucose levels
- Exercise causes blood to be redistributed from internal organs to skeletal muscle and as a result there is a significant transient reduction in oxygen and nutrient delivery to the placental site
- Overheating will challenge maternal thermal regulation and is best avoided, especially in the first trimester. Therefore, participating in vigorous exercise in high temperature environments throughout pregnancy should be avoided.
Having certain other conditions mean you need to exercise with caution. Ask your provider to recommend a safe exercise routine if you have;
- Abnormal heart rhythm
- Chronic bronchitis
- High blood pressure
- Bone or joint injuries
- History of heavy smoking
- Signs of a potential health problem or pregnancy complication.
Even if your doctor gives you the go-ahead to get regular physical activity, pay attention to signs that may indicate a problem with your health or the pregnancy. Stop exercising immediately and contact your healthcare provider if you have; Decreased fetal movement, dizziness or a feeling you might faint, headache, heart palpitations, calf pain or swelling (which could indicate a blood clot), vaginal bleeding, chest pain, recurring abdominal pain or contractions, fluid leaking (or gushing) from your vagina, shortness of breath (this is common during pregnancy but can sometimes signal a problem such as asthma or fluid in the lungs.)
Benefits of doing exercises during pregnancy :
- Improve the maternal fitness
- Reduce glucose levels – blood sugar
- Helpful to have a good sleep
- Reduce high blood pressure
- Increase energy
- Decrease complications happen during pregnancy
- Ease the labor
Mrs. Ruwandi Fernando is reading for MPhil / PhD program in Physics and currently working as a Technology Entrepreneur in MAS Holdings. In her role as a Technology Entrepreneur, she explores new trends in the maternal apparel space, sustainable products, new technology trends that can be applied to the apparel sector. She is a mother of a newborn who is interested in Kandyan dancing, playing sports, mentoring teenagers, teaching during her leisure time.