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Pregnancy & That All Important Exercise

Jane swimming-4 (2) (640x414)When you find out you are pregnant, there may be a tendency to think you can just sit back and relax and take it easy for the next 9 months. However women who stay sedentary during pregnancy have an increased risk of delivering a low-weight baby. Mental, physical and emotional exercise is good for both the expectant mom and her unborn baby provided complications don’t limit your ability to exercise at any time.

Exercise and...

• You will feel better because exercise increases your sense of control and boosts your energy level. Those endorphins will be released.

• You will relieve backaches and improve your posture by strengthening and toning muscles in your back, bottom and thighs.

• You will reduce constipation by accelerating movement in your intestines. This will in turn help to prevent the necessity for treatment for hemorrhoids or anal fissures treatment. Both these conditions can be quite common in pregnancy.

• You will prevent wear and tear on your joints by activating the lubricating fluid in those joints.

• You will sleep better by relieving the stress and anxiety that might make you restless at night. This can help you avoid the need for insomnia remedies and even restless leg syndrome (RLS) which can both occur during pregnancy.

• You will look better as exercise increases the blood flow to your skin, giving you a healthy glow.

• You will prepare both your body and yourself for birth as strong muscles and a fit heart can greatly ease labor and delivery. If you gain control over your breathing, this helps you manage pain while in the event of a lengthy labor, increased endurance can be a real help.

• You will regain your pre-pregnancy figure and body more quickly because you will gain less weight during your pregnancy. This will help you to avoid stretch marks which are more likely if you put on too much weight or your weight is gained too quickly.

So what sort of exercise is best to do?

Many experts recommend walking because it is easy to vary the pace, add hills and add distance. As a starter, begin with a moderately brisk pace for up to a mile - say 3 days a week. Every week add a little longer time, pick up the pace a bit and start to add some hills to your walk if you can. The first 5 minutes should be slower while you are warming up and use the last 5 minutes to slow down and cool off. Another excellent form of exercise is swimming. Like walking, you can build this up over time.

A warning about becoming overheated

Remember that it is important not to become overheated because a body temperature over 39 degrees celsius can cause problems for the developing baby especially in the first trimester. For this reason, it is not recommended that pregnant moms enjoy a Jacuzzi. So if the weather is hot, take it much easier or even exercise in an air conditioned environment.

Listen to your body

Whatever form of exercise you decide to do during your pregnancy, you must listen to your body - it will tell you that you have had enough if you feel any of the following:
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Heart palpitations (your heart pounding in your chest)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain in your back or pelvis
  • Unable to speak during exercise

Warning signs that would need you to check with your doctor

  • Vaginal bleeding or other fluid such as amniotic leaking
  • Onset of uterine contractions
  • Fainting or dizziness or any light-headedness or sudden severe headaches or nausea or confusion
  • Unusual pain or shortness of breath
  • A racing heartbeat or sudden severe chest pain
  • Back, pubic or hip pain
  • A sprain, strain or other injury
  • Sudden onset of edema (swelling)
  • Decreased fetal activity (there should be 10 to 12 movements per hour).

The type of exercise to avoid during pregnancy

  • Bouncing
  • Jarring or anything that causes a lot of up and down movement
  • Leaping
  • A sudden change in direction
  • Anything that may risk abdominal injury
If you follow a sensible and enjoyable exercise routine, you will not harm your baby or yourself but rather benefit in so many ways.