For some women, pregnancy brings a glow to everything they do. Others say they've never felt so unwell. Either way, exercise can help. Exercise during the early days can alleviate morning sickness and for everyone it can help where it counts: during the birth and in recovery.
While skiing and horse riding aren't recommended, there are plenty of options for exercising safely during pregnancy.
While skiing and horse riding aren't recommended, there are plenty of options for exercising safely during pregnancy!
For great all over toning and a cardio workout to boot, swimming is often touted as the best form of exercise. What makes it even better for pregnant women is that the water supports the extra weight that comes with pregnancy, saving stress on the joints. If you were a swimmer before pregnancy, you will probably have no trouble swimming right up until you go into labour. For new swimmers, get a little guidance from your doctor or midwife about intensity and duration of exercise before starting anything new.
Walking / jogging
Jogging is a great way to fit a quick burst of exercise into your day. A fifteen minute jog today, an hour on the weekend, it all adds up. If you have a jogging routine that's been going since before conception, you should be fine to stick with it during your pregnancy, unless you are at especially high risk of miscarriage or premature labour.
For women who haven't jogged before pregnancy, walking is probably a gentler way to start because it has less impact on the knees. During pregnancy your body produces the hormone relaxin, which will eventually help your joints to shift and ease the baby out, but for now will make you more prone to joint injuries.
Lifting weights strengthens muscles and joints, which will certainly help you cope with carrying the extra weight during pregnancy. It also increases stamina which can help during labour. Weight training while you're pregnant can also aid recovery after the birth, and help you get back into shape quicker.
There are some exercises which are not recommended for pregnant women. Exercises which involve lying flat on your back can restrict blood flow to the abdomen. Lifting weights while holding your breath can also affect blood pressure, so seek help from a trainer specialising in pregnancy when designing your program.
Yoga can help strengthen and tone muscles in women, pregnant or not. The great advantage of yoga, though, is the focus on breathing. Learning to control your breathing can be an invaluable aid to helping you through contractions. Yoga also tones core muscles and aids circulation, making recovery quicker and easier.
There are some yoga poses which are too strenuous for pregnant women, or which place pressure on the abdomen. Make sure you are in the hands of a qualified instructor who knows that you're pregnant. There are also yoga classes designed specifically for pregnant women, and those in recovery from birth, which provide the perfect blend of strengthening and relaxation.
Pilates is all about core strength, which is good news because core strength is going to help condition your body for labour and recovery afterwards. The other great advantage of Pilates is that most of the exercises can be modified to suit people with differing abilities, so they can be adapted to suit pregnancy as your body changes. However, positions which require you to lie flat on your back can restrict blood flow to the uterus so find a pre-natal Pilates class or an instructor experienced in dealing with pregnancy.
The benefits of pre-natal massage are numerous. It can help relieve edema and swelling, leg cramps and pregnancy related back pain. It can also help to relieve stress and anxiety and aid sleep, for those unlucky enough to suffer pregnancy related insomnia.
Because pregnant bodies are so different and constantly changing, find a masseuse who is qualified in pregnancy massage and make sure that they understand any particular medical conditions associated with your pregnancy. Then lie back and enjoy the pampering!
Discuss pregnancy with Essential Baby members.