Exercise and Pregnancy
By Benjamin Schoene from Fitness Etc...
To begin, it's important to stress that this article is NOT meant to provide medical advice, but rather to look at some of the commonly accepted recommendations from the health industry for exercising during pregnancy. All women who are pregnant are urged to discuss any fitness plan with their doctor before beginning any form of an exercise regime.
A few reasons pregnant women should exercise is to help prevent orthopedic issues, such as back and knee pain, as well as reduce the risk of postpartum depression. Another obvious and important benefit of exercise is that it can help prevent excess weight gain. The Institute of Medicine says that an average healthy woman can expect to gain up to 35 pounds of bodyweight during pregnancy; weight gain above this may simply be excess fat that will be difficult to lose after childbirth.
In general, it is recommended that pregnant women exercise for at least 30 minutes a day - it doesn't have to be all at once, and can be broken up into two fifteen minute walks, or three ten minute walks, etc. If previously inactive, gradual progress is stressed; start your fitness regime slowly, maybe two five minute walks a day at first, progressing slowly to achieve the minimum of 30 minutes a day. In general, pregnant women can train consistently, and often can do much more than they expect, but it's important to be cautious to ensure their own safety as well as the safety of their baby.
A few recommendations for an active pregnancy include avoiding high risk activities (such as contact sports, or downhill skiing - check with your doctor if your intended activity seems dangerous in any way), and performing Kegel exercises is common problems during pregnancy include hemorrhoids and bladder leaks, and Kegel exercises may help with these conditions. Traditional abdominal exercises that flex the spine, such as sit-ups, are not recommended however. Listen to your body and watch for signs you might be over doing it, such as dizziness, abdominal pain, etc. If you experience any of these warning signs, seek medical attention immediately. Drink lots of water to stay hydrated. Consider where you are in your pregnancy, as certain physical activities will become more challenging as the pregnancy progresses, such that some activities may become inadvisable. For example, during the later stages of pregnancy, when balance is compromised, aerobic and dance classes may not be good choices; jumping or spinning movements should be avoided as well.
Prenatal Yoga is another great option. Yoga provides not only physical benefits, such as balance and flexibility, but can be a wonderful way to relax, de-stress and develop your inner strength. Breathing and relaxation are two key points to master for childbirth, and these are principles taught and cultivated in the practice of yoga. Learning proper breathing techniques through yoga will have numerous benefits throughout the various stages of pregnancy.
The bottom line is that a healthy happy mother usually results in a happy and healthy baby. If you are active before you become pregnant there is no need to stop, and if you aren't, what a great form of motivation as you are now training for two! Remember, always check with your doctor before starting any type of fitness regime while you are pregnant.