Pregnant ladies should not exercise because it could affect the baby’s health.
Is that a fallacy or just a cultural belief? Should pregnant women just rest or lay down all day?
What could pregnant women do while carrying a child? Scientific progress has allowed us to better understand the human anatomy and in fact, there’s more evidence showing that remaining active is good for your health and your baby’s health as well.
Whether you are an athlete or not, it is fine to partake in sports while pregnant as long as you take some precautions. Your exercise intensity will depend on your background in sports.
First of all, before starting or keeping on exercising, it is highly recommended to check with your doctor prior to proceeding with any activities.
A typical pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks. So, a common practice is divided into three trimesters:
- During the first trimester
Your body doesn’t considerably change.
The weight you’ve gained isn’t too high, so you won’t experience backaches, yet!
However, you may experience other symptoms that are part and parcel of the usual “pregnancy pack” such as extreme fatigue, nausea, vomiting, food cravings or aversions, mood swings, constipation, frequent urination, and other unpleasant side effects. These may affect your daily schedule.
The first trimester is when the baby’s major organs are forming, and overheating is a real issue. If a women’s core temperature gets too high, it could cause problems with the baby. So, it is advisable to exercise during the early morning hours or in the evening when the weather is cooler.
- During the second trimester & third trimester
What you can add to your schedule is Kegel Exercises.
Certainly, pregnancy, childbirth, surgery, aging, being overweight, and so on can weaken your pelvic floor muscles, which support the uterus, bladder, small intestine, and rectum.
Kegel exercises strengthen the pelvic floor muscles to help you prevent or control urinary incontinence and other pelvic floor problems.
Indeed, the weight of the baby or childbirth, later on, has probably weakened your pelvic floor muscles. That is why Kegels are not only important during pregnancy but throughout your life after having a baby.
During the 2nd and 3rd trimesters, you can carry on exercising. However, you should consider exercises with lower intensity and a decrease in the duration as your due date approaches. You can switch to lower impact activities like swimming and walking.
How to do Kegel Exercises?
To get started:
- Find the right muscles.
To identify your pelvic floor muscles, stop urination in midstream. If you succeed, you’ve got the right muscles. Once you’ve identified your pelvic floor muscles, you can do the exercises in any position, although you might find it easy to do them lying down at first.
2. Perfect your technique.
Tighten your pelvic floor muscles, hold the contraction for five seconds, and then relax for five seconds. Try it four or five times in a row. Work up to keeping the muscles contracted for 10 seconds at a time, relaxing for 10 seconds between contractions.
3. Maintain your focus.
For best results, focus on tightening only your pelvic floor muscles. Be careful not to flex the muscles in your abdomen, thighs, or buttocks. Avoid holding your breath. Instead, breathe freely during the exercises.
4. Repeat three times a day.
Aim for at least three sets of 10 repetitions a day.
Postural Changes – Muscles Imbalance
During pregnancy, your body will experience many changes.
Your hips might have probably been titled forward (Lower Crossed Syndrome – LCS, also known as a distal or pelvic crossed syndrome). Your shoulders might have probably rounded (Upper Crossed Syndrome – UCS, also known as proximal or shoulder girdle crossed syndrome).
This misalignment is the source of the pain you might be suffering. Certain muscles become tightened, while other muscles become lengthened, and inhibited in order to stabilize the body and to adapt to the growing fetus and uterus.
Returning to sports after giving birth takes time and it is always a good idea to see your doctor before engaging in any form of sports.
After childbirth, like any major operation or hospitalization, it is advisable to rest, get plenty of sleep and simply recuperate. This includes NO heavy lifting, NO intensive movement of the body, especially in the first three to six weeks.
You can, however, work on your pelvic floor exercises and walk.
Take it easy. Allow your body to recover. Once you’ve passed the 6-week postnatal check-up, you can consider starting with low-impact exercises. By the 16th week, most women have been able to resume their previous sports activities.
Listen to your body as you might feel tired due to insufficient sleep and breastfeeding.
If you are unsure, discuss this with your doctor.
Exercise while pregnant is good. It improves your sleep quality, prevents you from gaining excessive weight, lessens back pains, and reduces delivery complications and time spent in labor.
Most importantly, do not exceed your capacity and do not raise the bar too high.
Enjoy your exercise, your pregnancy, and stay safe!