Exercise will always be an essential part of our daily living to reach optimum level of wellness. With regular exercise, one can feel good about themselves because it stimulates endorphins, a.k.a. the “happy hormones”, and also puts you in tiptop shape which will increase your confidence.
There are many benefits one can receive from doing exercise daily. Especially if you are a woman and want to get pregnant, an effective workout coupled with good sleep and less stress, will provide you bigger chances of getting pregnant. It will also prepare your body to carry a baby which can add, at most 8 more pounds, to your regular weight.
And when you are pregnant, regular exercise is still advised. Gone are the days when pregnant women should be at home simply sitting down or lying in bed, unless you have a sensitive pregnancy. Actually, having a moderate workout is highly encouraged for pregnant women because it helps you get accustomed to moving around with your growing belly and lessens the chances of getting swollen ankles, back ache and exhaustion. It is also significant to mention that proper exercise will aid you in enduring the pain of labor and delivery since it will gouge an immense energy and stamina from you to birth your baby.
After the baby is born, exercise will make you lose the baby weight. And since you have been exercising all throughout your pregnancy journey, your body is in a much better position to bounce back to its pre-pregnancy state if not much healthier.
Exercise before, during, and after pregnancy
Exercise Before Pregnancy
If you haven’t yet, then probably now is the best time to establish a good exercise regimen and a healthy lifestyle. Enlisting in a prenatal fitness program will prepare your body to enter this amazing journey of pregnancy. Or you can just simply be on your feet whenever you can — walk, walk, walk! An effective cardiovascular workout like walking or jogging, or a good stretching and breathing exercise will develop your endurance, increase strength and stamina and set your body to adjust well to pregnancy. Make sure that you also eat right, take vitamins and minerals like folic, and sleep well. No exercise will be effective if you miss out on these three.
However, excessive exercising may actually hamper your probability of getting pregnant. So do not overdo it. Consult with your doctor about an exercise program you can do regularly. If you exceed from the safe routine given to you, it may create infertility problems or luteal phase deficiencies (a problem that doesn’t allow proper implantation of fertilized egg), instead of helping you get pregnant.
Exercise During Pregnancy
Any routine exercise that will get your heart pumping, make you agile, control weight gain, warm up your ligaments and does not cause physical stress to you or your baby is a good training workout for you.
Light Exercises : You may still carry on with your walking and jogging exercise that you have already established, although you may want to take it easy now since you are carrying a baby. You can also take on swimming, stationary cycling and low-impact aerobics, given that you have your doctor’s permission to do so. Yoga and Pilates are also gaining recognition as an excellent workout for pregnant women.
Kegel Exercises : Do Kegel exercises regularly. Kegel exercises target the pelvic floor muscles that support your internal organs (bladder, intestines, uterus, etc.), maintain bladder and bowel control, help strengthen your spine and let you enjoy sex more. Kegel exercise is done by contracting and releasing the pelvic floor muscles just like as if you are stopping urination. Squeeze those muscles and count to ten, and then release. However, do not do this when actually urinating as it may lead to incomplete emptying of your bladder and cause urinary tract infection.
Other Exercises : Aside from Kegel, you may also exercise your pelvic floor muscles by sitting or lying comfortably with knees slightly apart and pulling up your back passage muscles towards the front carefully then holding it up for a few seconds while breathing normally.
Take Care during your workout session : Do all these exercises with caution and if you feel tired and pain at any point, stop and rest. Resume only when you are comfortable and feeling much better. These exercises are meant to make you stronger and healthier, but if it makes you feel exhausted, then discontinue the workout. You and your baby’s condition are more important than finishing the exercise routine. All you need is to stay healthy during pregnancy.
Exercise to do after giving birth to your baby
After giving birth, you should not feel pressured to resume your exercise regimen immediately and instead concentrate on healing and recovering from childbirth and taking care of your newborn. Nevertheless, you can restart your fitness routine in 6-8 weeks after delivery or whenever your doctor gives you a go-signal.
Remember not to begin with the same intensity as you did in your pre-pregnancy exercise program. Introduce the exercise to your body with ease and comfort at first. Then build it up in the next two weeks. Begin with light exercises like walking, modified push-ups and stretches. Make it a habit to warm up and cool down before and after exercising.
Even after pregnancy, you may still continue doing Kegels as it will help tone the pelvic floor muscles, heal the perineum and tighten the vagina. Add the Bridge and Pelvic Tilt in your regular fitness routine because it strengthens your core muscles, especially if you want to remove that belly pouch.
Pelvic Bridging Exercise : The Bridge is done lying on your back with your knees bent and raising your hips off the floor until it is aligned to your knees and shoulders. Hold this position for three deep breaths then return to original position and repeat. While the Pelvic Tilt pretty much begins in the same way as the Bridge, only that you flatten your back and tighten your abdominal muscles as you bend your pelvis up slightly. Hold up for ten seconds then repeat five times and do 10-20 repetitions.
Special cases where exercise is not allowed
There are instances where exercise may not be allowed during and after pregnancy and may need your doctor’s approval before proceeding. Seek medical advice first if you have:
- Severe anemia or low iron levels in your blood.
- High blood pressure or pre-eclampsia.
- Weight issues — overweight or underweight.
- Joint and muscle problems
- Heart or lung conditions
- Carrying multiples or twins
- Had vulnerable pregnancy or had premature baby
Take note as well if the below cases are present in your condition as exercise may not be possible:
- Premature labor caused by too much activity
- Placenta praevia or low-lying placenta
- Cervical weakness
- Persistent vaginal bleeding
- Serious high blood pressure, heart or lung condition.
Make sure also that exercises which include holding your breath in longer periods of time, pose a potential fall in the activity, contact sports or any activity that requires extensive jumping, bouncing or running should be avoided. Keep in mind that you have a huge bulge and a delicate baby to take care of so any movements that will make you too hot or too drained must be deferred.
It is always best to follow recommended exercise programs for pregnant women to avoid any injuries or possible pregnancy complications. With appropriate workout and regular guidance and monitoring of your health care provider, exercise will be very beneficial for your overall wellness and will help you be in your best form before, during and after pregnancy.
These are the points to keep in mind while doing exercise before, during and after pregnancy.
Dr. Todd Luther
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