Pregnancy and Exercise – Safety Benefits and Guidelines

You’ve seen all those women let themselves go once they begin a family and you’ve told yourself that you’re not going to be one of them. Well, if you don’t already work out regularly then your first trimester is when you should begin.

Working out during pregnancy will help regulate weight gain, strengthen your body for labor and will make it easier for your body to return to its original shape after you’ve given birth

Working out in your first trimester

If you are just starting to work out then start off slow with low-intensity 30minute workouts around 3 to 5 days a week.

Pilates:

Pilates is great during pregnancy because it helps with two most common problems women face when pregnant; lower back pain and balance.

Through Pilates, you can correct your posture, strengthen your core, pelvic muscles, and your lower back; all of which are weakened during pregnancy and childbirth.

It is a holistic form of exercise which combines breathing, control, awareness of the body and flow. Heightened awareness of the body has been shown to improve Optimal Fetal Positioning (the baby’s position in the belly).

The stronger pelvic and abdominal muscles help you carry the weight of the growing baby without facing much discomfort. The stronger pelvic muscles specifically help you in your later trimester (when your baby is heavier) and in childbirth.

Pilates is a low-intensity option for mothers-to-be, they’ll find themselves feeling more relaxed and energized which is needed in the first trimester when their bodies are starting to change and they are usually suffering from morning sickness.

Pregnant women are advised to look for Pilates trainers that have experience working with pregnant women so they can avoid exercises that are unsuitable for them.

Yoga:

Yoga heals the body, mind, and soul. If your pregnancy has gotten you feeling anxious then yoga would be the best way to keep both your mind and body healthy. Also, once you begin to reap the benefits of yoga during pregnancy, you are likely going to be doing yoga all your life.

Like with Pilates, yoga builds strength and enhances balances. In yoga, you will be doing poses that loosen and strengthen your muscles while also improving flexibility.

It also helps reduce blood pressure and stress, allowing pregnant women to sleep better.

Working out in your second trimester

By the time they are into their second trimester, most women have gotten used to their pregnancy. Compared to their first trimester, they aren’t as nauseous and nor as exhausted. If they have been eating right, engaging in regular exercise without over-exerting themselves, women are quite comfortable in their second trimester despite carrying the extra weight of their baby.

When exercising in their second trimester, women should know not to lie on their backs for long periods of times as this cuts the blood flow to the baby. This is why Pilates and yoga poses may not be very appropriate during this portion of the pregnancy. Because the baby is bigger now, mothers need to focus on protecting their bump physically as well, meaning they should not be engaging in contact sports or in anything else where they may experience a fall.

Swimming:

Due to nausea and dehydration, many women aren’t able to swim much in their first trimester but in your second trimester, swimming makes a wonderful workout and is perfect for strengthening the body during pregnancy. According to the American Pregnancy Association, swimming is the most recommended strategy for the maintenance of health in pregnant women.

It is a moderate-intensity workout where all of your muscles are used without added stress on your ligaments and joints. As you gain weight and your baby grows, your joints get weaker and aren’t able to cope with intense exercise. The resistance from the water acts as a cushion and protects your joints.

Swimming is known to improve cardiovascular health and breathing, both of which are important at this stage of the pregnancy. The water also prevents pregnant women from over-heating.

Expecting mothers who do swim need to make sure they stretch their muscles before they begin to swim and they need to ensure the pool is appropriately chlorinated.

Walking:

Walking is recommended for all trimesters, but again in the first trimester, many mothers-to-be can feel dizzy and disoriented with a power walk. Walking in the second trimester will strengthen your back, arms, and legs which help in carrying the weight of the baby before and after birth.

Working out in your third trimester

In their third trimester, women are too big to engage in anything too intense. By now, the baby is moving around in the belly and you don’t want to do anything that will cause it discomfort.

Body Weights and Toning:

In your final trimester, you are encouraged to try body weight workouts like squats, modified planks, and wall pushups. Avoid all exercises that require you to be lying on your back like crunches and ab workouts. Instead, focus on side-workouts, like side-planks that will stabilize muscles, glutes, hips and thighs.

Because your baby is coming soon and you’re going to be needing a lot of arm-strength, experts suggest you do some light-weight lifting to build some muscles in your arms.

Pelvic floor exercises (Kegels):

Kegels are helpful before pregnancy and after pregnancy. They help strengthen the pelvic floor which supports the uterus and bladder. In your final trimester as well as the weeks after pregnancy, our bladder and uterus will loosen up causing you to run to the bathroom every so often. Doing Kegels will allow you to regain control of urination.

Working out during your pregnancy has many benefits. Not only does it benefit you physically but it can also help in managing the stress and anxiety that comes with pregnancy and childbirth. Expecting mothers who engage in regular exercise have smoother pregnancies and fewer complications during childbirth.

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Zyana Morris is a passionate health and lifestyle blogger who loves to write about prevailing trends. She is a featured author at various authoritative blogs including LifeHack.org, Feedster.com, MedicalFitnessNetwork.org, FamilyShare.com & many more. Currently, I she is working as a blogger for Hourglass Express, providers of quality waist trainers and weight loss products. You can find her using Facebook and Twitter.

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