Pregnancy is a special time in any woman’s life. It comes, though, with many discomforts and pains that seem to progress as the pregnancy progresses. In the not too distant past, pregnant women were advised to spend as much time as possible resting, and to avoid exercise. However, we now know that moderate exercise can help lessen the aches and pains of pregnancy, and aid the pregnant woman as she delivers her child.
All pregnant women can benefit from light exercise such as walking, swimming, yoga, and belly dancing. If you have been active before you became pregnant, then there should be no problem continuing your activities throughout your pregnancy. If you decide to start an exercise program after becoming pregnant, you will need to start slowly. Try being active for five minutes a day, and increase by five minutes every week until you are exercising for 30 minutes at a time.
It’s important to keep in mind that during all stages of pregnancy, women should be careful to avoid any type of exercise which could cause her to fall. A woman’s body is more easily injured when she is pregnant, and while a fall would most likely not hurt the unborn baby, her mother could be badly injured. Keeping this in mind, it is best to avoid horseback riding, skating, bicycling, and whatever else could cause a fall.
There are certain activities which can be enjoyed in the beginning of pregnancy, but once the pregnancy progresses should be set aside until after the baby is born. Here is a trimester by trimester guide to exercises you can enjoy in your various stages of pregnancy.
Many women deal with much nausea and vomiting during early pregnancy. If you are among these women, be sure to listen to your body and relax when you need to. Since your body is not yet feeling the awkwardness associated with a large belly, you can feel free to continue to enjoy the exercises you performed before you were pregnant. Don’t be surprises though, if you feel fatigued more easily now than you did in your pre-pregnancy state.
Many women wonder if they can continue to perform abdominal exercises once they become pregnant. Most health professionals agree that yes, you can continue to do these until your second trimester, when the baby is larger and you should no longer lie on your back for extended periods of time. If you would like to lift weights, remember that the joints become looser during pregnancy and are therefore more easily injured, so be careful and lift lighter weights than you normally would.
Often called “the honeymoon of pregnancy,” the second trimester is perhaps the most enjoyable of the three trimesters, since most women are past the nausea associated with early pregnancy and are not yet large enough to feel uncomfortable. You should feel free to continue exercising as you were in the first trimester, keeping in mind to always stay hydrated and listen to your body’s needs. Growing a baby takes a lot of energy, so take it easy and be kind to your body.
You should no longer be performing any exercises while lying down at this point. There are many standing and sitting exercises that work your abdominal muscles, and may aid in keeping your core muscles strong, which could help prevent aches and pains.
At this point in your pregnancy, your belly is becoming larger and exercising may be a bit more awkward. Simple exercises, such as walking, are great in the third trimester, because it is gentle on your joints and can be done easily. Riding a stationary bike is a good exercise for this time; it will prevent falls and allow you to remain stable despite your changing center of gravity. Many women prefer swimming over any other exercise in the third trimester, since it puts no pressure at all on your joints, and is cooling to very warm, pregnant bodies.
Remember to talk to your doctor before you begin any exercise routine. Exercising during pregnancy is perfectly healthy, and will benefit both mother and child during labor and delivery. Listen to your body, and it will tell you when to stop if you are overdoing it. Above all, take care of yourself, because you are in turn taking care of your baby.
“Top Recommended Exercises”, American Pregnancy Association
Mayo Clinic Staff, “Pregnancy and exercise: Baby, let’s move!”, Mayo Clinic