Pregnancy is difficult, but it is not a disease! Yes, your body is fragile and changing. However, it’s a miracle of life and is something to celebrate. But these days, many women treat pregnancy as a ‘touch me not’ phase! And nothing makes it more evident than their reluctance to exercise.
Here is the scoop – exercises for pregnant women is not just safe, but is a great way to a healthier mom and a healthier baby! So, if you were planning to exercise, but worried how it will impact your pregnancy, relax! We have all the information you’ll need to start moving your body! Read on to know more.
Why Is It Important To Exercise During Pregnancy?
So, the first big question that needs an answer is why do you need to work out during pregnancy? How does it help?
Here are the major benefits of exercise during pregnancy:
1. Improves Posture:
As your pregnancy progresses and your tummy grows large, your body’s center of gravity shifts and take a toll on your posture. But with regular exercise, you can improve your posture and keep your body healthy and fit.
[ Read: Exercises For Back Pain During Pregnancy ]
2. Helps Beat Backache And Fatigue:
A bad posture and an expanding girth can cause a backache during pregnancy. And, those pregnancy hormones can only compound the situation. So, exercise can prevent or decrease these common pregnancy complaints.
3. Relieves Stress:
Stress is common during pregnancy. But, chronic stress can be harmful not just for you but also for your unborn baby. Exercising is a great way to beat stress and find some peace of mind.
4. Prevents Gestational Diabetes (GD):
Many women develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy. Women with GD can experience several health issues and have to watch their diet too. If you want to prevent GD, exercising is the way to go.
[ Read: Exercises To Induce Labor Naturally ]
5. Reduces Risk Of High Blood Pressure:
High blood pressure during pregnancy can prove fatal, not just for the mother, but for the baby too. High blood pressure can lead to preeclampsia, a condition that requires immediate medical intervention. One of the best ways to prevent high blood pressure during pregnancy is to exercise.
6. Provides Better Sleep:
Sleep deprivation is common for new moms. But sleeplessness can make an early entry into your life and make your pregnancy days tough and stressful. If you want to sleep better, start exercising.
7. Makes Labor And Delivery Easier:
Are your worried about the entire labor and delivery process? Well, start exercising! Regular exercise can make it easier for you to deal with labor and childbirth.
[ Read: Exercises To Avoid During Pregnancy ]
8. Prevent Chances Of Fetal Macrosomia:
A chubby baby is adorable. But, the last thing you need while giving birth is a baby who is larger than average as it can make the process of childbirth difficult. You can regularly exercise to reduce the risk of Fetal Macrosomia (a child weighing more than average).
Who Shouldn’t Exercise During Pregnancy?
As we mentioned earlier, exercise can prove to be a blessing during pregnancy. But do not start exercising without consulting your doctor first.
There are certain conditions that warrant staying away from exercising during pregnancy.
Don’t exercise if you:
- Have Asthma
- Suffer from heart disease or diabetes
- Experience bleeding or spotting during pregnancy
- Have a low placenta
- Have experience of recurring miscarriage
- Have a history of premature birth or early delivery
- Have a weak cervix
If you have any of the problems mentioned above, do not jump into an exercising routine without consulting your doctor.
The Best Exercises For Pregnant Women:
If your doctor gives you the go-ahead, you can start planning our exercising schedule. But are there some exercises that work best during pregnancy? Yes, there are!
Exercising during pregnancy can be put into six broad categories – Yoga, Pilates, Weight Training, Aerobics, Pelvic Exercises, and Dance.
Let’s take a look at each of these categories and find out the best exercise during pregnancy for you!
Yoga For A Healthy Pregnancy:
The ancients knew a thing or two about staying healthy! Yoga is proof that that our ancestors did care about their health. Dip into the wisdom of yoga to have a healthy pregnancy.
Some of the best pregnancy yoga exercises that you can practice during pregnancy include:
1. Extended Side Angle Pose:
Pregnancy can leave you tired and sluggish. If you want an instant surge of energy to perk up your body and mind, try the Extended Side Angle Pose.
- This particular yoga pose requires you to have strong legs. It works to open up the hips and provides a great opportunity to stretch those cramped muscles after a day at work.
- The pose works the whole body – right from your fingertips to the bottom of the leg.
[ Read: Yoga Poses During Pregnancy ]
2. Triangle Pose:
It is easy to be patronizing and tell a would-be mother to enjoy each moment of her pregnancy. Yes, pregnancy is a joyous occasion, but it is also full of anxiety and stress.
- If you are looking for a yoga pose that will not just help you stay physically fit but will also help you de-stress, try the triangle pose. It is a great exercise for pregnant women. It will help you beat stress and find some peace of mind too.
- Apart from that, the triangle pose also helps to give your legs, the side body, and hips and shoulders a good workout.
3. Sitting Side Stretch:
If you are looking for an exercise that is safe during the final few weeks of your pregnancy, the sitting side stretch will be perfect for you.
- During the final trimester, your belly grows by leaps and bounds. The sitting side stretch will help to open your side waist and pelvis while expanding your hips. This will give your body the extra flexibility to accommodate your growing baby.
4. Cat Cow Pose:
Is your back hurting already? Well, there is more to come! With your increasing weight and girth, your body, especially your back, faces a tough time. It is no wonder that back pain is one of the most common pregnancy complaints.
- But you can prevent, or at least minimize, back pain with the cat and cow yoga poses.
- Try gently rocking between the cat and cow pose to give your back a good stretch. These poses shift the weight of the baby away from the spine and give your back some relief.
Pilates – The Way To A Healthy Mom And Baby:
If yoga is too mild for you, or you are looking for some exercises to strengthen your core, look no further than pilates.
Most good pilates workout helps to strengthen the abdominal muscles, as well as the pelvic floor muscles – both of which go through a lot of wear and tear during pregnancy. In fact, you can go for antenatal pilates classes to make sure the exercises you so enjoy now are safe exercises during pregnancy.
Pilates is best done with a trained expert, especially if you are new to it. A good teacher can help you navigate the exercises and derive the maximum benefits.
Here are the best Pilates exercises for pregnant women:
1. The Sword:
An amazing exercise that will leave you feeling like a warrior!
- During pregnancy, your balance becomes a little tricky, thanks to your increasing weight. The sword is a great exercise to keep your body in shape while improving your balance.
- The exercise is also a great way to strengthen the leg muscles as well as the back and abs – all of which will come in handy during labor and delivery.
- The breathing techniques that go with this exercise will also help you regulate your breathing, especially during labor.
[ Read: Pilates During Pregnancy ]
2. Thigh Stretch:
Another gentle Pilates exercise for pregnant women is the thigh stretch.
- Apart from correct breathing, the exercise requires strong hips, lower back, and abs.
- Once you get this one right, labor should be a cakewalk for you.
[ Read: Breathing Exercises During Pregnancy ]
3. Wag The Tail:
Okay, so this exercise does have a funny name, we’ll give you that. But it is also a great exercise, one of the best, for pregnant women.
- Wag the tail helps to strengthen the lower back as well as the abs – the two victims of your pregnancy weight and size.
- The exercise also works to improve your body’s flexibility and stability.
4. Sword Arm:
The perfect pilates exercise during pregnancy, the sword arm should surely be part of your workout regimen.
- The exercise helps to strengthen your arms, abs, and hips. It is also a great exercise if you want to have a stronger back.
- The sword arm also helps to improve the body’s balance during pregnancy.
Weight Training For A Stronger Mom:
Does the thought of weight training during pregnancy scare you? Don’t worry! There are many weight training or resistance training exercises that are perfectly safe for pregnant women.
If your workout schedule already consists of weight training, you can continue with a little modification.
But if you have never lifted weights, now won’t be the best time start. It is also important to not allow your body to overheat while doing weights.
Some of the best weight training or resistance training exercises for pregnant women include:
1. Shoulder Lateral Raises:
- The Shoulder Lateral Raise (also called Dumbbell Lateral Raises) is the perfect weight training exercise for pregnant women. It is easy to do and does not jar the body, keeping your baby safe.
- The move strengthens the shoulders, which may suffer quite a lot during pregnancy. The exercise also strengthens the abdominal muscles. If you are looking for a stronger spine and back, the shoulder lateral raise is the exercise for you. The move also improves your posture and balance.
2. Seated Row:
- The seated row is a great 2nd-trimester exercise. It works the whole body and is gentle on your body too.
- The exercise works to give your body the perfect posture during pregnancy. It also provides balance to your rounded shoulders, a common pregnancy problem.
- The seated row exercise also provides you with stronger back muscles. It also lengthens your chest muscles, providing your growing baby with that much-needed space to bloom.
3. Plié Squat:
- If you are aiming for a natural birth, squats will be your best friend.
- The Plié squat is a great exercise for both second and third trimester. The move strengthens the quadriceps, hamstrings and hip muscles. It also opens up the pelvis, helping you have an easier labor and delivery.
- The exercise also improves balance during pregnancy, something you sorely need as your body expands and tries to defy gravity.
[ Read: Squats During Pregnancy ]
4. Hip Abductors And Adductors:
- Your lower body needs strength and perseverance to live through labor and childbirth! With hip abductors and adductors you can give your lower body a good workout and prepare it for labor.
- The hip abductors help to strengthen the outer thigh muscles. Remember, during labor, your thigh muscles can tire pretty quickly, which can make delivery difficult. That is why the regular practice of hip abductors is a great way to prepare your body for a natural birth.
- You can also add adductors to your exercise routine. The move strengthens your inner thighs and hips. It also provides you a stronger pelvic region.
You Can’t Go Wrong With Aerobics:
If aerobics is already a part of your workout routine, you don’t need to stop now! There are many aerobic exercises that are safe for you and your baby.
You can even go for a special antenatal aerobic class, which will ensure that all the exercises are low impact and safe.
Here are some of the best aerobic exercises that are safe during pregnancy:
1. Step Stool Aerobics:
- Aerobics cannot get easier than this! Step stool aerobics is the perfect way to step into an exercise routine during pregnancy.
- The workout is a great way to beat stress, sleep better, and develop stamina. The move also helps to improve balance and to breathe through strain – something you’ll need to learn to give birth without too many difficulties.
[ Read: Aerobics During Pregnancy ]
- When you are talking about aerobic exercises during pregnancy, you just cannot ignore swimming!
- Swimming is not just fun but is also a great way to give your body a complete workout. You can even innovate and try different move while in the swimming pool.
- You can stand at the corner of the pool, holding onto the ledge while you paddle your legs as if you are riding a bicycle. You can also try the mermaid paddle and the breaststroke.
- Swimming helps you de-stress, improves your stamina, and strengthens your core – all this while you get to feel weightless under water!
3. Stationary Bike:
- The best thing about a stationary bike is that you can exercise with it in the comfort of your home, even while watching your favorite soap!
- A great way to build up stamina and sleep better at night!
- If exercising is not your cup of tea, you can simply go for regular walks!
- Walking is a great aerobic exercise and the easiest to do while pregnant. You can walk until the day you go into labor. But your knees may complain a little. That is why it is important to buy a pair of good walking shoes before you start walking.
- The fresh air will do wonders for your spirit while the walking rhythm will give your body the gentle workout it needs. The best thing is that you can continue walking even after your baby is born.
[ Read: Walking During Pregnancy ]
Dance Your Way Through Pregnancy:
What can be better than dancing to beat the blues and stay fit? Dancing is a great exercise during pregnancy. If you are already a dancer, you can continue with your practice under the guidance of your teacher.
But if you are planning to take up dancing now, stick to the forms mentioned here. Remember not to leap, jump, twirl or change direction suddenly when you are pregnant.
The best dance forms to practice during pregnancy includes:
- Ballet is graceful, elegant, and perfect for pregnant women! If you are a ballet dancer, you’ll know how amazing it is to swirl around!
- The dance form is gentle on the body while helping it rejuvenate and become stronger. Ballet builds stamina, makes your legs stronger, and helps you sleep better at night!
- A good jazz routine will get your heart pumping and your body sweating!
- A great way to relax and de-stress, jazz is also gentle on the pregnant body. But do not go for moves that may require jarring motions.
[ Read: Dancing During Pregnancy ]
- Who can resist samba dancing? The music, the moves, the rhythm – Samba is the dream dance for pregnant women.
- If you are not looking for strength training, samba dancing your way through pregnancy will keep you fit and healthy.
4. Belly Dancing:
- There is something exotic about belly dancing. You can do some gentle belly dancing with slow movements, to provide your body with some easy and musical workout!
- Belly dancing is also a great way to deal with labor pain! When you go into labor, put on some belly dancing music and start swaying. It will help you deal with those painful contractions better. Belly dancing also helps to work the pelvic floor muscles, helping you deal with an embarrassing problem many new moms face –incontinence!
You Must Try Pelvic Floor Exercises:
When talking about pelvic floor exercises, you got to mention Kegel! Practice your Kegel moves if you want to avoid leaking a little amount of pee each time you sneeze, cough, or exercise!
Here are the pelvic floor exercises you should practice during pregnancy:
1. Short Squeezes:
The short squeezes help the pelvic muscles to tighten up before you cough or sneeze, keeping you the master of your bladder!
2. Long Squeezes:
Here is another great way to master your pelvic floor muscles. Remember, once you give birth, your pelvic floor muscles will become weak. That is why you need to learn how to control it. It will not just help you control your bladder but will also help during childbirth.
[ Read: Pelvic Floor Exercises During Pregnancy ]
Another great way to strengthen your pelvic floor is with the Bridge. This particular exercise not just works your pelvic floor but also your thigh and abdomen.
4. Wall Squat:
Wall squats are a great way to make your pelvic floor stronger. Pelvic floor exercises like the wall squat not just helps to control the bladder, but also prevents hemorrhoids.
Things To Keep In Mind:
Exercising when you are pregnant is a great way to stay fit and healthy. It also ensures that you have an easy labor and delivery.
But there are things you should keep in mind when you decide to exercise.
- As your baby develops, your body will need more oxygen and energy. So modify your exercise routine keeping in mind these additional needs.
- During pregnancy, a hormone called relaxin takes over your body. The hormone loosens up your joints, which can cause injuries.
- Your balance suffers a lot during pregnancy. That is why it is important to opt for exercises that help improve your balance.
- Always wear clothes that are loose and comfortable, including a sporting bra.
- Shoes can make or break your exercise routine. So, buy shoes that go with the kind of exercises you are planning to do.
- As mentioned before, your balance is doubtful during pregnancy. That is why it is important to exercise on a flat surface.
- When you are pregnant, your body requires additional calories to support your growing baby. So, make sure to add more calories to your diet to make up for the ones you burn while working out.
- Do not exercise for at least one hour after eating.
- Drink water, all the time.
- Avoid holding your breath during any exercise.
- Do not indulge in contact sports while pregnant.
- Avoid exercises that require jumping, skipping, or running.
- Avoid exercising in hot weather.
When To Stop Exercising:
Stop exercising immediately and talk to your doctor if you notice any of the following signs:
- Chest pain
- Abdominal or pelvic pain
- Persistent contractions and headaches
- Decreased or no fetal movement
- Feeling faint, lightheaded or nauseous
- Vaginal bleeding
- Leaking fluid from the vagina
- Irregular heartbeat
- Swollen ankles, hands or face
- Calf pain
- Shortness of breath
- Muscles weakness and difficulty walking
Your body is busy nurturing a new life. Do all you can to help it remain strong through the process! Exercising will not just help your baby but will also make your pregnancy and all the changes it brings with it easier to manage.
But don’t be hard on yourself! Pregnancy may not be a disease, but it is pretty difficult, nonetheless! So, work out, but within reason and let your body do the rest!
Source: Mom Junction