Exercise may be the last thing that you feel like doing when you’re pregnant, especially in the later stages of pregnancy, but a suitable exercise regime can actually do wonders for you. It will help to prepare you for childbirth, as well as make getting back in shape after the baby’s birth a whole lot easier.
Yoga is excellent during pregnancy as it is both gentle and relaxing. Yoga helps the body to become more supple and, as well as being relaxing, it is designed to increase a person’s awareness of how their body moves and how the muscles work. This heightened awareness is useful during labour. The breathing patterns that are taught during yoga are also invaluable during labour, as they can help a mother-to-be deal with pain and also to relax. Pre-natal yoga classes are becoming increasingly popular and taking a class such as this will ensure that you are only performing poses that are safe for your body to achieve.
Swimming is an excellent exercise when pregnant, as the water will take the weight of the body and support the joints, reducing the risk of injury. Regular swimming will increase your stamina and tone your body. When swimming, always swim in a heated pool and go at your own pace, taking breaks as often as you need them. Do not push yourself.
Walking is a valuable pregnancy exercise and can be undertaken by just about any pregnant woman as it can be done anywhere and does not require any special equipment. Loose, comfortable clothing worn in layers will make it easy to ensure that you do not get too hot or too cold when walking. While walking is low-impact, it is important to wear shoes that give your feet and ankles adequate support. Walk at a steady pace that is comfortable to you. You should always be able to talk easily.
This is an exercise that is best done in the earlier stages of pregnancy as it may be uncomfortable to sit on a bike when the stomach is getting larger. Cycling can be done on a standard bike or on a stationary bike. As with other forms of exercise during your pregnancy, go at a pace that is suitable for you. You should not get out of breath. Always cycle on a flat area – steep inclines should be avoided as they cause too much exertion.
Pelvic Floor Exercises
Pelvic floor exercises are vital during pregnancy. The pelvic floor is made up of muscles and tissues that are suspended from the pelvic bone and support the bowel, bladder and the uterus. It is important to do pelvic floor exercises during pregnancy because the hormones that are released will cause the pelvic floor to relax.
The pelvic floor muscles are the muscles that you use to stop the flow of urine. Once you have isolated these muscles, tense and release them throughout the day. You should try to hold the muscles for as long as possible before releasing them.
Exercises to Avoid
There are some exercises that you should avoid during pregnancy, however. Try to avoid contact sports, and forms of exercise that are high-impact or that are likely to jar your joints. Some stretches should also be avoided. Sit ups and other exercises that are designed to work on your abdomen should be avoided as they can place too much stress on your abdominal muscles. This is because the abdominal muscles will naturally separate to allow the uterus to enlarge as the baby grows. Also, any exercises that are performed on your back should also be avoided as they can disrupt the flow of blood to the baby.
Jogging should only be undertaken if you have jogged regularly before you have become pregnant and with the permission of your health care provider. As for stretching, it is important to be careful as the ligaments will be looser than they normally are. Do not perform long or sharp stretches as these can be dangerous, although gentle stretching is normally safe.