One of the most beautiful yet challenging times for a woman is the period when she is nurturing new life within her body. Excitement coupled with the need to be extra fit takes up most of a would-be mother’s time. This is the time that she struggles with a large number of queries- What do I eat? How much do I eat? How much rest do I need?
What Exercises are Safe for Me?
The question of exercise is very crucial, especially during the first trimester when the risk of losing a new pregnancy is extremely high.
Your Exercise Dilemmas during Pregnancy Answered
In the first three months or the first trimester, a pregnant woman’s body does not show much physical change. In fact, many women feel almost the same as before. But the fact is that the body is undergoing rapid changes inside and starting safe exercises during pregnancy now, can be truly rewarding for a pregnant woman during the entire phase of her pregnancy.
Fitness during pregnancy can go a long way in keeping the unborn child fit and healthy. So, having an exercise regimen can be truly rewarding for both, the mother as well as the child.
Exercises during pregnancy have multiple benefits.
- It helps to improve muscle strength,
- Relax the body and reduce swelling in the lower limbs.
- It can be extremely helpful during labor, as well.
- A regular exercise regime releases endorphins which help to relax the body and keep the mommy happy.
Only a happy mother can ensure that the child is happy too.
Apart from these, exercise can also prevent complications like pre- eclampsia. Women who exercise also have shorter labour and are more likely to have a normal birth.
If you are pregnant, safe exercises during pregnancy will also help you to:
- Reduce backaches, and pelvic pain.
- Stem constipation and give you more energy.
Feel less depressed.
- Not put on too much weight.
- Prepare your body for labour and childbirth.
- It will also help you get back into shape after your baby is born, easily and faster.
Also, if you happen to develop diabetes during your pregnancy, exercise can help you to manage your blood sugar levels better.
However, one needs to start slowly. Fifteen minutes of pregnancy workouts are usually sufficient initially. Once one is comfortable, the duration can be increased.
One should warm up, exercise and cool down slowly before completing the session. Remember, if you feel even a hint of breathlessness while exercising during pregnancy, it’s best to stop and take rest before continuing again.
If you are pregnant, read on for we are answering a few more of your exercise dilemmas right here.
What Exercises should you do During Pregnancy?
Low-impact aerobics, yoga and relaxation techniques, Pilates, stretching and squats are the exercises which can be done safely during the first trimester of pregnancy. Let us take these one by one:
#1. Low Impact Aerobics
These pregnancy exercises are basically those which help to raise breathing and heart rate. These exercises have many benefits for pregnant ladies, like:
- Improve the body’s use of oxygen and also oxygen supply to the fetus.
- Regularise blood sugar levels.
- Burn fats easily.
- Reduce the risk of premature birth.
- Improves confidence levels and self-esteem.
The safe exercises during pregnancy which are a part of this are brisk walking, swimming and stationary bicycling.
Walking can be extremely beneficial provided it is done in the proper manner. One should avoid hot and humid weather for walking as it strains the heart.
Secondly, take care to wear the right fit of shoes. Well fitted shoes can be relaxing and ill fitting shoes can be a pain. One important point to note is that this form of pregnancy exercise is good if done for 20-30 minutes daily. Over doing it can be harmful.
Swimming offers a pregnancy workout that stretches and tones muscles in a nearly gravity-free environment. It lessens joint strain and balance problems. Moreover, swimming helps pregnant women get back into shape faster after childbirth.
#4. Stationary Bicycling:
This form of pregnancy workout is good for starters as it has the least amount of strain on the joints. Moreover, the amount of risk involved is quite less for pregnant women. So, do it regularly to reap its great results!
#5. Yoga and Relaxation Techniques
Relaxation techniques help one to breathe and focus, release stress, be more active and improve overall emotional health. This can be a very useful exercise during labour and delivery, too. Thus, yoga, meditation and other breathing exercises can work wonders for the physical and mental health of a pregnant woman during the first trimester.
One can follow a large number of styles of yoga like: Kundalini yoga with focus on breathing and meditation, Iyengar yoga which works on posture, alignment and balance or Hatha yoga. However, pregnant women shouldn’t do fast yoga and focus on doing Pranayama which focuses on the breath and stretches, which prime the body for safe labor.
Yoga is the safest among the safe exercises during pregnancy.
Pilates can be a useful pregnancy exercise. It improves posture, strengthens the core muscles and helps maintain normal weight. It can prevent back pain once the mother begins gaining weight. Pilates can also aid in weight loss after delivery. One can join Pilate’s classes and discover the positive changes during the first trimester itself.
#7. Weight Training:
For the robust ones, weight training can be a good pregnancy workout. One can use free weights, resistance machines or a combination of the two. This form of exercise helps to build up posture which is helpful during pregnancy, delivery and postpartum recovery.
Extra repetitions with lighter weights can help prevent injuries also. But, one must avoid straining oneself during a workout. This straining is called the Valsalva maneuver and is often done instinctively when lifting weights. One should also take rest of at least 60 seconds between the weight training exercises. This is what makes weight training one of the safe exercises during pregnancy.
Another good form of pregnancy workout is stretching; though stretching beyond limits is not recommended during pregnancy! Stretching is a light form of exercise which can be done 10-15 times in a day. It is relaxing as well as soothing. The best part about stretching is that it is safe even for women with certain pregnancy complications. This pregnancy workout can be done before and after other safe exercises during pregnancy.
- Squats can prove to be an extremely good form of pregnancy exercise for those in the first trimester.
- One needs to bend legs and remain in that position for some time. Repetition can be around 10-12 times. In some countries, where Indian toilet seats are used for defecation, squatting comes naturally and helps tremendously during labour. Squats can thus be an easy form of pregnancy workout.
- Though exercising is highly recommended during pregnancy, overdoing it can be extremely dangerous. Even safe exercises during pregnancy can cause harm if overdone, so be careful and mindful about.
- What exercises and how much of them you are doing.
Stay Away From the Following While You are Pregnant
- Downhill skiing
- Horseback riding
- Mountain climbing, and
- Contact sports (like soccer and basketball)
- Sports like badminton carry the risk of a hit to the abdomen so should also be avoided. Contact sports can cause joint injuries too.
Things to Keep in Mind While Doing a Pregnancy Workout
- Exercising can be relaxing and extremely fulfilling during the entire course of pregnancy but the watch word is “caution”. Some things should be kept in mind religiously:
- Firstly start exercising when pregnant only after consulting your gynaecologist. He or she is the best guide as they know your medical condition better.
- A good pregnancy workout will turn even better if it is coupled with the right nutrition. Thus make sure that you eat healthy. A balanced diet can do wonders to you and your baby.
- Drink lots of water and keep yourself hydrated as it is extremely helpful during pregnancy exercises. When body cells get enough water, they are more active. Even the fetus is happier if given lots of water.
Even though one might be an expert, if the following symptoms occur, discontinue the pregnancy workout immediately:
- Fainting spells
- Blurry vision
- Vaginal bleeding
- Heart palpitations
- Lack of fetal movement
- Wear loose clothing and do pregnancy exercises in well ventilated surroundings. Do not exercise in very hot or humid environs.
Avoid using saunas or hot tubs for doing pregnancy exercises. These can be extremely nauseating.
So, eat well, be happy and exercise regularly during your pregnancy. These safe exercises during pregnancy will ensure that you have a safe labour and are able to bounce back from pregnancy into your tight, pre-pregnancy jeans, as soon as possible.