Exercising safely while pregnant

If you were really active and worked out before your pregnancy, or if you just want to keep fit and healthy for the duration of your pregnancy, you can. You do have to take it a bit easier and there are some exercises that you have to avoid completely. Here is a guide to safely working out while you are pregnant…

Exercise tips.

Don’t overdo it and exhaust yourself, you will definitely have to slow the pace down as your pregnancy progresses or if your midwife advises you to. As a general rule, you should be able to hold a conversation as you exercise. If you become breathless as you talk, then you’re probably exercising too strenuously.

If you weren’t active before you got pregnant, don’t suddenly take up strenuous exercise. If you start an aerobic exercise class, make sure you tell the instructor that you’re pregnant and begin with a maximum of 15 minutes continuous exercise, three times a week. Increase this gradually to a maximum of four 30-minute sessions a week. Find a local gym or exercise group.

Remember that exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous to be beneficial.

Exercise tips when you’re pregnant:

  • always warm up before exercising, and cool down afterwards
  • try to keep active on a daily basis: half an hour of walking each day can be enough, but if you can’t manage that, any amount is better than nothing
  • avoid any strenuous exercise in hot weather
  • drink plenty of water and other fluids
  • if you go to exercise classes, make sure your teacher is properly qualified, and knows that you’re pregnant and how many weeks pregnant you are
  • you might like to try swimming because the water will support your increased weight – some local swimming pools provide aquanatal classes with qualified instructors

Exercises to avoid.

  • don’t lie flat on your back, particularly after 16 weeks, because the weight of your bump presses on the big blood vessels and can make you feel faint
  • don’t take part in contact sports where there’s a risk of being hit, such as kickboxing, judo or squash
  • don’t take part in horse riding, downhill skiing, ice hockey, gymnastics and cycling, because there is a risk of falling

Exercises for a fitter pregnancy.

If you are pregnant you should try to fit these exercises into your daily routine. They will strengthen your muscles so that you can carry the extra weight of pregnancy. They’ll also make joints stronger, improve circulation, ease backache and generally help you feel well.

 

 

Stomach strengthening exercises,

As your baby gets bigger, you may find that the hollow in your lower back increases and this can give you backache. These strengthen stomach (abdominal) muscles and ease backache, which can be a problem in pregnancy:

  • start in a box position (on all fours) with knees under hips, hands under shoulders, with fingers facing forward and abdominals lifted to keep your back straight
  • pull in your stomach muscles and raise your back up towards the ceiling, curling the trunk and allowing your head to relax gently forward – don’t let your elbows lock
  • hold for a few seconds then slowly return to the box position
  • take care not to hollow your back: it should always return to a straight/neutral position
  • do this slowly and rhythmically 10 times, making your muscles work hard and moving your back carefully
  • only move your back as far as you can comfortably

Pelvic tilt exercises.

  • stand with your shoulders and bottom against a wall
  • keep your knees soft
  • pull your tummy button towards your spine, so that your back flattens against the wall: hold for four seconds and release
  • repeat up to 10 times

Pelvic floor exercises.

Pelvic floor exercises help to strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor, which come under great strain in pregnancy and childbirth. Signs that your pelvic floor muscles are weak include leaking urine when you laugh, sneeze or cough. This helps to reduce or avoid stress incontinence after pregnancy. All pregnant women should do pelvic floor exercises, even if you’re young and not suffering from stress incontinence now.

How to do pelvic floor exercises:

  • close up your anus as if you’re trying to prevent a bowel movement
  • at the same time, draw in your vagina as if you’re gripping a tampon, and your urethra as if to stop the flow of urine
  • at first, do this exercise quickly, tightening and releasing the muscles immediately
  • then do it slowly, holding the contractions for as long as you can before you relax: try to count to 10
  • try to do three sets of eight squeezes every day: to help you remember, you could do them once at each meal

As well as these exercises, practice tightening up the pelvic floor muscles before and during coughing and sneezing.

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