Pregnancy is the one time in your life when you can enjoy some weight gain without guilt. Ironically, it’s also a time when it’s important to keep fit and strong. Pregnancy, birth and motherhood are physically demanding and you need to be at your peak. If you want a less painful birth, less backache and a better sex life, there are some exercises that you can’t afford NOT to do while pregnant.
There’s no need to morph into an iron-woman because there’s a baby on the way, but there are one or two areas you might want to work on. This article will explore some of the best and most important exercises to include in your pregnancyâ€¦
Exercise and pregnancy
For a normal, low-risk pregnancy it is recommended that you get around 30 minutes of exercise per day. Walking, swimming and yoga are some of the more popular choices. There are a variety of pregnancy fitness classes to choose from, all tailored to focus on usual problem areas. As an added bonus, you’ll meet lots of other pregnant women and potentially make a few new friends too.
Even if you are being diligent about exercising regularly, there are a few areas’ you should pay some special attention to.
Pregnancy exercises: 101
Even if you are being diligent about exercising regularly, there are a few areas you should pay some special attention to.
1. Your abs:
Your abs will be doing a lot of work before, during and after the birth. If you’re serious about regaining your pre-baby body, you’ll need to exercise those abs.
In your first trimester, crunches are safe and a good way to strengthen and tone your abs. Once your pregnancy progresses, crunches and old-fashioned sit-ups will become dangerous. Instead, try this; start by squatting on all fours and relaxing your stomach. Now contract your stomach muscles by pulling your belly button towards your spine. Repeat as often as possible! You can work on strengthening your stomach muscles at any time by simply tightening your abs and holding the muscle taught.
2. Your lady bits
Being diligent about your Kegels has a range of benefits for you, your baby and your partner. This simple little exercise can save your dignity, your sanity and your sex life in one nifty move.
Named after Dr. Arnold Kegel, these exercises focus on the same muscle that helps stop the flow of urine. To feel the muscle, try stopping yourself mid-pee. That’s your PC muscle and the act of contracting it strengthens it. Better sex, easier delivery and reduced risk of incontinence are just some reasons you should include Kegels in your daily routine!
3. Strengthening your lower back
The lower back is often the first place that mums to be experience strain and pain. Fortunately, there are a number of exercises that can be done to strengthen these muscles and ease discomfort later in pregnancy as well as after baby arrives.
One of the best exercises for strengthening the lower back is the pelvic tilt described above. Regular stretching also promotes flexibility and strength in the lower back.
4. Strengthening your arms
Many first time moms are both horrified and surprised at just how much heavy lifting motherhood requires. With the average newborn weighing in around 3.5 kilograms, it can be a strain on those of us with spaghetti arms! Luckily the solution is cheap and easyâ€¦
Prepare for motherhood by adding a few repetitions with light hand-weights. Every little bit helps and when your baby is bigger you will be grateful that you took the time to build those arms up a bit.
Look up any of these exercises online and find free exercise video’s that will illustrate these movements more clearly.
Pregnancy exercises: safety tips
While these exercises are safe and often recommended for pregnant women, there are a few basic safety tips to keep in mind.
- Check with your doctor: Especially if you suffer from any conditions that may make exercising dangerous in pregnancy.
- Go easy on yourself: There’s no need to push yourself beyond your own perception of comfortable exertion. If you can comfortably carry on a conversation whilst exercising, you are fine.
- Warm-up properly: The idea is to gently work up to the workout with a few minutes of slow walking or stretching. Your ligaments are already under pressure, warming up will take some of it off them.
- Stay hydrated: Especially if it’s hot out. Sip on water or isotonic drinks to stay hydrated throughout your workout.
- Breathe properly: Any time that you are actively holding your breath, you are increasing your intra-abdominal pressure and depriving your baby of oxygen. So be sure to keep breathing deeply through even the tougher exercises!
Be sure to run any new additions to your exercise routine past your doctor to ensure that they are safe for you and baby. Taking care of yourself now means a healthier, happier experience for you and your baby.