By Shelby Davidson and Christy Piña
Although the swollen feet, back aches and overall lethargy of pregnancy may make you feel less inclined to get your sweat on, exercising during your nine months is incredibly important. For almost all women, exercise is safe throughout the duration of pregnancy, however women should always consult their doctor first in the case of high-risk pregnancies or other potential complications.
If you are ready to start your fitness journey and you are unsure of where to begin or how, look no further; here are some tips and tricks for staying fit when you are expecting!
Why Do I Need Exercise?
The changes that your body goes through during pregnancy extend to your ligaments and joints. Exercising throughout the nine months can help maintain their strength and flexibility.
According to Dr. Anthony Agrios of All About Women OBGYN, exercise can prevent some complications for mothers, like pre-eclampsia or diabetes. It can also help prevent babies from gaining too much weight prior to delivery. “The concern is that [delivery] can be very difficult,” said Dr. Agrios. “In some cases, if the growth is not proportional, the baby can actually get stuck during delivery, which is very dangerous for the baby and the mother.”
Strength of Super Mom
The more in shape you are, the better you will be able to tolerate labor. “In addition to that, after the baby’s born, you’re gonna have to be taking care of a baby, which takes a lot of energy, said Dr. Agrios. Continuing to exercise throughout your pregnancy can help ensure that you are ready to keep up with your active infant from day one.
What Exercises Can I Do?
Keep in mind there will be restrictions, particularly later in the pregnancy as your bones and limbs are shifting, but there are so many safe and fun activities you can still do to maintain your fitness.
Steady walking, as well as occasional jogging if you were a runner before your pregnancy, is a great way to stay in shape. “For women who aren’t exercising at all, starting gentle is a good idea,” said Dr. Agrios. Pregnancy is not the time to start a strenuous exercise regimen if you body is not already used to it.
One of the easiest ways to boost your mood, ease the tension and quite literally exhale all of the negative energy is through this meditative exercise. Other than avoiding positions that involve rigorous twists and positions that may compromise your comfort (or that of your baby), this is a harmless exercise that will benefit your mind and your body.
Women who did water aerobics three times per week, according to a study published in Reproductive Health, were less likely to ask for pain relief during labor, compared to those who did not exercise. Balanced Body Pilates of Gainesville even offers classes for pregnant women for this reason, so be sure to check them out — just make sure to stay in the shallow end of the pool!
What Should I Avoid?
There are certain exercises that you should always steer clear of, as they compromise the safety of you and your baby. “Avoid doing anything that might cause trauma, so impact sports like football,” said Dr. Agrios. “Things that require any sharp motions, like tennis for example, are very hard to do for most women in pregnancy because the sharp motions really put a lot strain on the ligaments and joints.” Things like lifting heavy weights and other strenuous or dangerous activities are to be avoided as well. Nine months will go by quickly, so make sure to keep your inner daredevil put away until your baby is safely delivered.