The moment you’ve been waiting for has finally arrived. The test result is positive, and you’re officially a mom now! Yes, I didn’t say “mom-to-be” or such like, because for me, you don’t need to wait for the actual birth to be a mom. The baby is already in our world, even if he or she is still in your belly. Okay, it’s a little of a stretch, but the term “mother-to-be” introduces doubt, so I don’t like it. Anyway, your life will change now. Your diet, how you sleep, your work, and your relationships will all change.
I want to talk today about exercise during pregnancy. There are three types of activity you can practice during this period: Muscular (strength, stretching, relaxation), respiratory, and relaxation. These exercises will help you to:
- Enjoy a wonderful pregnancy
- Prepare for labor
- Recover more easily in the postpartum period
Your body will change in your nine months of pregnancy, and you’ll inevitably gain weight. Your spine and your joints therefore need to carry more weight, possibly leading to muscle tension and stiffness. To overcome these problems, a pregnant woman needs to strengthen, stretch and relax her muscles.
These exercises are very good for helping dilation during the baby’s delivery, so a mom must start practicing them from her fourth month of pregnancy. What’s more, these exercises will help you to stay calm and composed during pregnancy.
Relaxation covers both physical and mental relief. The anatomical and physiological changes you encounter during pregnancy will tire you out, so you need relaxation to feel better. Remember, when you are relaxed, you are calm and happy. If you are calm and happy, your baby will be too.
Should every mom practice the same exercises? Of course not, because there are two basic groups of mothers: Those who were very physically active before pregnancy and those who were not.
For Moms Who Didn’t Exercise before Pregnancy
Pregnancy is not the ideal time to start a new physical activity, but the most suitable activities to take up are walking, swimming, yoga, and Pilates. You can practice cardiovascular exercise for 30 minutes two or three days per week and muscle exercise for 30–60 minutes two or three days per week.
For Moms Who Exercised before Pregnancy
Yes, you can continue doing sports. However, the type of the activity, the frequency, and the intensity are important criteria here, as well as your health condition. If your pregnancy is going well and you are already physically trained, feel free to continue the sport, so long as it doesn’t bring risk to your pregnancy (see the list below). In addition, always be vigilant and listen to your body and practice with moderation. Excessive exercise can lead to a lack of oxygen for the baby.
Two criteria can help inform your decision: significant fatigue and breath. Remember, you’ll tire more easily during pregnancy. Your metabolism starts to work 10% faster at the start of this adventure, with your heart rate increasing and your oxygen use rising. You could say that pregnancy is an endurance activity in itself, so any additional activity will be more tiring than before. All dangerous or violent exercises and sports must be avoided because of the fatigue and risk they bring. Team sports are not recommended either, because it’s difficult to regulate your efforts in a team environment. Even for trained athletes, pregnancy is not a good time to start new activities. If you’re thinking, “I want to start boxing,” don’t do it. Pilates and yoga, in contrast, can be taken up any time, as long as your obstetrician doesn’t raise concerns.
Of course, if you encounter any complications in your pregnancy, all activities should be reconsidered and stopped if needed.
|ACTIVITIY||SUITABLE WHEN PREGNANT?||RECOMMENDATION|
|FITNESS||Can be practiced. You must remain in the aerobic interval (moderate heart rate) and have 15 min of recovery following the exercise.|
|DANCE||Can be practiced.|
|HORSE RIDING||Not recommended due to risk of falling.|
|GOLF||Very good activity as it involves lots of outdoor walking.|
|RUNNING||Not recommended. If you’re used to running, you may run for shorter durations and practice on a cushioned floor.|
|SWIMMING||One of the most recommended activities for pregnant women. You feel lighter and more relaxed in the water. Moreover, swimming is an excellent muscular and respiratory activity. Choose the back or crawl styles to avoid lumbar problems.|
|WALKING||One of the most recommended activities for pregnant women. It is especially good to walk outdoors.|
|CYCLING||Can be practiced indoors, staying in the aerobic range. You can also bike on a tour, but risky circuits should be avoided.|
|TENNIS||Can be practiced for fun but avoid any competition.|
|SCUBA DIVING||Not recommended due to the risk of insufficient oxygen for the baby.|
|PILATES||One of the most recommended activities for pregnant women. It strengthens the muscles of the perineum and the deep abdominal muscles and stabilizes the back muscles. It also helps stretch the body.|
|YOGA||One of the most recommended activities for pregnant women. It prepares a pregnant woman for labor in an optimal way.|
In conclusion, regular activity during pregnancy can help you to carry your baby more easily, enjoy an easier labor, and recover faster in the postpartum period. Remember, the key is to avoid risk and select an activity that is suitable for your body and stage of pregnancy. In some upcoming articles, I’ll discuss each of the three main activity types and share some easy exercises to practice at home.