The experience of bringing new life into the world should be cherished and prenatal exercise can help facilitate this. Sometimes the changes your body goes through can dim the light a bit. The prospect of labor and delivery can also further diminish the experience. The benefits of prenatal exercise during the pregnancy, for labor, delivery and recovery and post-delivery are profound. Good news for expectant mothers who were not active before pregnancy; you too can begin a prenatal exercise program. Regardless of your pre-pregnancy level of activity, it is important to keep safety in the forefront so that exercise will be the catalyst for a joyous pregnancy that it can be. Let’s explore some of the factors to consider to get the most out of your prenatal exercise.
The benefits of prenatal exercise range from minor to extreme. On the low end, exercise fosters an overall sense of well being and improved self image. Mid range, you can look forward to relief from pregnancy aches, pains and other discomforts such as nausea, back strain, leg cramps, bloating, etc. On the upper register we have control of pregnancy induced disorders such as hypertension and diabetes. Another tremendous benefit of prenatal exercise is that a fit mother stands a fantastic chance of having a quick, trouble free labor. And you already have a head start on getting back in shape after the baby is born. Oh, and there is much evidence to support the theory that exercise during pregnancy also benefits your baby. Even if you were not a ‘fitness buff’ before your pregnancy, you can still have a good prenatal exercise experience.
Newly ‘fitness aware’ expectant mothers should start out slowly. Of course regardless of whether you are newly active or already active you should consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program. Remember to consider any pre-existing conditions which may limit your activity. That said, 15 to 20 minutes a few times a week should be a good start. Every other day, with a ‘rest day’ on the alternate days is a good idea. An excellent ‘organic’ exercise to start with is walking. Swimming is also an excellent prenatal exercise which boasts the added benefit of having your ‘extra’ weight supported by the water. Yoga and low-impact aerobics are also good options. There are some excellent prenatal yoga DVDs out there. To ensure you get the most out of your prenatal exercise experience it is imperative that you keep safety in mind.
The doctor consult is the fist line of defense in staying safe while exercising. It should go without saying (but I’ll say it anyway), high risk (extreme) sports are at the top of the ‘No-No’ list for pregnant women. Biking and jogging should not be started when pregnant although the jury is still out on whether to continue if you were already doing them. Generally the consensus seems to be that they are alright in moderation in the first trimester. Sit-ups, air bicycle and other exercises that require you to lay on your back, if done at all, should also be discontinued after the first trimester. Don’t use saunas, hot-tubs, spas or other apparatus designed to alter your body temperature. Wear loose clothing, stay hydrated (lots and lots of water; before, during and after exercise) and don’t exercise in heat or humidity. Never exercise to the point of exhaustion. If you can’t speak normally while exercising, stop. Take frequent rest breaks and stop immediately if you experience pain especially in your middle (i.e. abdomen and back), fatigue, dizziness or other signs that your exercise is having adverse affects.
Well, I hope I have provided a good starting point of info for you to enjoy exercise during your pregnancy. I wish you a fit and healthy pregnancy, an easy-peasy labor, a smooth sailing recovery and many blessing with the new family member(s).