Staying fit and feeling healthy throughout your pregnancy will not only help you to feel better; it will aid in the healthy growth and development of your baby as well!
The first trimester can be tough. Even seasoned gym bunnies can fall off the wagon as they succumb to morning sickness and fatigue. It is crucial that during this time, pregnant women develop a modified exercise routine to keep them active throughout the pregnancy. Even those who didn’t exercise before becoming pregnant should start now.
Walking is the single best exercise during pregnancy. It helps to keep joints limber and strong; the heart and lungs processing oxygen as efficiently as possible; and the muscle tone in the legs and pelvic floor strong and lean. Walk fast enough to feel like you’re getting a workout but are still able to carry on a conversation without losing your breath. Swimming is another low-impact, all over workout that can also be fun. Many gyms offer water aerobics and even classes designed especially for pregnant women to tone muscle and keep joints flexible, without putting extra stress on the body.
Active women might feel a sense of loss or disappointment in the first trimester as people fuss over them and tell them to “take it easy". While it is necessary to stop high impact, potentially dangerous sports, you can still carry on the activities that you did before you became pregnant as long as your doctor deems it is safe. For example, a skier or bicyclist should continue their activity carefully, while a sky diver or white water rafting enthusiast might be better to give it a rest until after the baby is born!
In the second trimester, the pregnant woman’s body shape changes. Sports and activities requiring balance might be more of a challenge as your center of gravity shifts with your growing belly. As you gain weight, keep walking and swimming to keep your muscles lean and weight gain in the right areas. You can expect your stomach, breasts, butt and even thighs to fill out as your body stores fat and the baby grows. Remember that these fat stores are the supplies that your body will draw on for breastfeeding your baby, so they are necessary for good health.
Yoga can be therapeutic during the second trimester to relieve back ache, leg cramps and other maladies. It will help reduce mental and physical stress while strengthening core muscles that are used to deliver the baby. Attend a class with a leader who is familiar with yoga poses that are safe for pregnant women; there are some that must be avoided.
Start doing Kegels (Otherwise known as pelvic floor exercises) in your second trimester. These simple, discreet pelvic floor exercises will strengthen the muscles needed for pushing during childbirth. To find the right muscle, try to stop urinating in mid-stream. Do these exercises as often as 3 times a day, holding each time for 10 seconds and doing 10 repetitions each time. Because the blood volume in your body is increasing, you might find that you tire easily or even become dizzy. Make sure that you are drinking enough fluids and stop exercising immediately if you feel dizzy or weak.
Although you may not feel like doing much of anything in the third trimester, it’s important to keep moving! Avoid exercises that have you lying flat on your back; the weight of the baby can compress nerves and blood vessels in your back. Because each woman will have a different experience in her pregnancy, no one exercise program is approved for all moms-to-be. Discuss your health and any symptoms you may be having such as shortness of breath, aches and pains, contractions, etc. , with your doctor. You can decide together how much exercise will provide the most benefit possible to you and your baby without putting either of you in harm’s way. When in doubt, ask your doctor!
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