Exercise is very important and can help you feel better during your pregnancy. You wouldn’t run a marathon without training and getting in shape for labor is no different. The benefits of moving more during pregnancy begin immediately and last your whole life. Your baby will start reaping the benefits in utero, too.
Benefits of Exercise
- Circulates blood and nutrients to your baby
- Helps to build up your endurance which will help you during your labor
- Can promote a faster, easier labor
- A faster recovery after the birth
- Less weight gain – Research shows women who exercise during pregnancy put on 7 pounds less than those who do not work out.
- Lower your risk of gestational diabetes by as much as 27 percent.
- Reduces leg swelling
- Increase bone density
- Can also help reduce morning sickness
- You are more likely to avoid prenatal depression.
Good ways to exercise include:
- Walking – As you become more fit, try to go longer distances. Add hills to increase the difficulty and build up your stamina.
- Swimming and water aerobics – Enjoy a wonderful sense of weightlessness!
- Stationary biking
- Yoga – In addition to helping you stay limber, yoga practices can include a focus on breathing, meditation, both important tools to have at your disposal during the labor process
- Dancing – You might even go for something a little more exotic like belly dancing.
The important thing is doing something you like. You can also find good exercise videos especially for pregnancy. Trying a variety of routines can you from you getting bored and will exercise different muscle groups.
Weight lifting to build up your arm strength can come in handy after the baby is born. You will be lifting your baby over and over all day and will appreciate having strong muscles!
Research has shown that exercising at approximately 70% of maximal heart rate causes no change in fetal heart rate. The following heart rates based on age for pregnant women:
|Age||Heart Rate Range (beats per minute)|
|Less than 20 years old||140-155|
|20-29 years old||135-150|
|30-39 years old||130-145|
|40 or older||125-140|
Do not exercise while lying on your back
Excess abdominal weight can restrict blood flow to the fetus (particularly after the first trimester), and it can decrease cardiac output (the amount of blood the heart beats) by as much as 9%. Therefore, it’s suggested that pregnant women avoid exercising while lying on their back, and particularly so after the first trimester.
It’s important to stay hydrated for exercise. Drink 8 ounces of water 20-30 minutes prior to exercise and 8 ounces every 20 minutes during exercise.
Center of gravity shifts as pregnancy progresses and creates balance problems. Therefore, activities that increase the risk of falling, like vigorous racket sports, skating, and gymnastics, should be avoided.
In the first week you don’t need to do much in the way for exercise. A simple exercise that can help start to strengthen your abdomen is to lie on your back in bed and support your stomach with your hands. Bend your knees so your feet are flat on the bed. Then lift your head so your chin touches your chest. Do 5 the first time and you can do this 3 times a day. When you feel stronger you can increase to 10 at a time and then 15, etc.
Another thing you can do is a modified fish pose. This is really more of a stretch and is great for after you have your baby,
Here is a podcast about exercise that you can listen to: http://www.podcastchart.com/podcasts/well-adjusted-mama-educating-and-empowering-women-on-wellness-lifestyle-from-preconception-pregnancy-birth-and-through-ear/episodes/wam072-optimal-fitness-during-child-bearing-years-with-alycia-kluegl