Exercises during pregnancy: which ones are the most indicated?
Can you continue your workout routine? Will starting a workout routine during your pregnancy be beneficial for you and your baby? Questions like these are common for future mothers. The practice of physical activities during pregnancy is highly recommended by specialists. It brings several benefits such as helping control anxiety, enhancing self-esteem, better disposition, reducing nausea and bloating, lessening back and joint pain, and helping prevent issues such as gestational diabetes and preeclampsia, a syndrome which could cause high blood pressure and hepatic disorders.
Exercise will also help prepare you for the birth process when it comes to strengthening your muscles and enhancing your cardiovascular abilities, along with helping set the stage for a faster postpartum recovery. Besides, exercise helps oxygen circulate better through your placenta, especially aerobic exercises, which in turn helps the fetus’ oxygenation, aiding in cerebral development.
Therefore, keeping active or starting new habits will only bring on more benefits. However, a series of preventative measures must be taken as not all kinds of exercise are recommended for expecting mothers. The type of activity and the intensity you can practice it at also varies depending on which trimester you’re on and requires caution. Pregnancies considered at risk and/or with a risk of dislodging the placenta and even the threat of abortion can impose a series of restrictions, including any kind of physical activity, and may even require bed rest.
Sedentary women should opt for lighter exercises and preferably something that can be done in water, such as hydro gymnastics, as it reduces impact. Gym rats, on the other hand, should take it slow – it is best to talk to your doctor as each pregnancy is different.
Activities that are most recommended are pilates, yoga, hydro gymnastics, stretching, and light walks. Weightlifting and running can be considered as options but at a much lighter pace and intensity. Exercise practices that pose the most significant threats are those which involve any kind of combat/fighting or jumping. Abdominal exercises are strictly prohibited.
Even with the green light from your doctor to practice physical activities, pregnant women should avoid spending too much time on their feet. Make sure to eat properly before beginning any form of exercise, respect your limits, and always listen to your body. When in doubt, stop any physical activity and make sure to rest.
Strengthen your pelvic floor
In the 1940s, North American gynecologist Arnold Kegel (1894 – 1981) developed a series of exercises designed to strengthen the vaginal muscles, thinking beyond just pompoir exercises, an erotic and ancient Oriental technique created more than 3,000 years ago which aims to improve sexual sensation.
The movements invented by Kegel consist of contracting and relaxing the pubococcygeus muscles, which form the musculature of the pelvic floor, responsible for supporting the bladder, the urethra, the uterus, and the anus. If this musculature is flaccid, problems such as urinary and fecal incontinence, as well as weak support of the organs, causing the feared uterine prolapse, may occur.
For expecting mothers, these exercises are a great tool to help ease natural births, as well as the recovery process. Additionally, these exercises enhance bladder control and minimize urinary incontinence as well as hemorrhoid development.
Below, we break down step-by-step how you can incorporate Kegel exercises in your everyday routine:
- Before you start, speak to your doctor.
- While sitting down, contract your vagina for five seconds, as though you were holding your pee in. Ideally, you should complete three series of 20 repetitions every day.
- Don’t worry – no one can tell when you’re doing the Kegel exercises, but, preferably, you should do them while wearing comfortable clothing.
- With time and practice, you can increase the contraction times to 10 to 15 seconds per repetition.
- Never do the Kegel exercises with a full bladder or when you feel like you need to use the bathroom. Doing so could cause a urinary infection.
- With just 10 minutes every day of practicing the exercises, the first results can be felt within a month.