Exercise during pregnancy: Benefits and good exercises
Find out how you and your baby will benefit from regular exercise during pregnancy, and which pregnancy exercises you should definitely try.
You might have heard how exercise during pregnancy does wonders in helping you stay in shape for a smoother labour and delivery.
While exercise is beneficial during pregnancy, you should also guard against losing weight. The weight that you are gaining now is necessary for growing a healthy baby, and much of it can be attributed to the amniotic sac and the baby’s weight.
Just remember that during pregnancy, exercise is solely for your health and that of your baby.
Exercise during pregnancy benefits
Pregnancy is a healthy part of life. It is not a sickness or a handicap, so it is perfectly fine to exercise during this time. In fact, your doctor will most likely recommend that you do.
According to Dr John Yam, an Obstetrician & Gynaecologist at Acufem Women’s Specialist at Gleneagles Hospital, there is some evidence that show how simple exercises during pregnancy can help with labour and delivery, and improve blood circulation.
However, he warns that pregnant mums should refrain from vigorous exercises that involve sudden changes in posture as this can increase the risk of the placenta detaching from the uterus wall.
When you exercise during pregnancy, your body and your baby will benefit greatly. Find out how on the next page…
Benefit 1: Improved body & posture
Exercise helps to improve your posture, which in turn helps alleviate body aches. Pelvic tilts, yoga and water workouts can help reduce back pain – a common complaint in pregnancy. Swelling in the legs can be greatly reduced by exercise. Not only that, your body will more likely bounce back to pre-pregnancy size with regular prenatal exercise.
Benefit 2: Better labour experience
Kareen Lai, founder and head coach at Mums in Sync shares that the right exercise movements can also help to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. This, amongst other exercises, is an excellent way to prepare your body for labour and childbirth. Your chances of a shorter labour and natural delivery will even be improved.
Benefit 3: Improved health
When you exercise during pregnancy you reduce the risk of pregnancy complications, such as preeclampsia and gestational diabetes mellitus.
Benefit 4: Booster for well-being
Research on anxiety, depression and exercise shows that exercise can also help reduce anxiety and improve mood. It can even be a cure for fatigue and boost your energy levels. According to Kareen, increasing movement and activity levels raises endorphins levels and helps pregnant mums feel better and happier. Some mums even experience less nausea after workouts.
Benefit 5: Good for your baby
Your baby will benefit from your exercise too. You will lower your risk of preterm delivery or having an overweight baby. Plus, exercise helps to lower the heart rate of the fetus, an effect that baby will continue to enjoy for a month after birth.
Ready to get moving? Check out some exercises that you can do during pregnancy on the next page.
Good exercises for pregnant mums
Good pregnancy exercises tone the muscles and get the heart rate up just a bit. By strengthening the muscles, you can continue to feel firm, flexible and experience a smooth delivery at the same time.
Here are five exercises that you can start off with to keep in shape during pregnancy:
Going for relaxing walks while you’re pregnant offers superb cardiovascular benefits, and you can do it any time, anywhere. With the right shoes and a bottle of water, you can stay fit throughout your pregnancy, provided you don’t overexert yourself.
Now, here’s a fun way to get your heart pumping in the comfort of your own home. Just remember to keep your dance moves low impact and be cautious about overheating! You might want to consider dancing inside in an air-conditioned room, and remember to drink plenty of water.
3. Low-impact aerobics
Low-impact aerobics help to tone your muscles and help strengthen your heart. It’s also a great way to connect with other mums-to-be in your class. In fact, parenting group SuperMom hosted a 30-minute aerobics workout on 10 March 2015, which saw 102 moms-to-be exercising their way to a place in the Singapore Book of Records.
When doing the aerobics exercises, just make sure to stop when you feel out of breath.
Doing laps in the pool or aquanatal yoga/aerobics during pregnancy feels amazing. There’s that sense of weightlessness, and it’s no wonder fitness experts and prenatal care providers recommend it as the safest, most effective exercise for expectant mothers.
5. Prenatal yoga or pilates
This form of exercise is highly effective throughout your pregnancy, provided you follow a class that is specific for pregnant women. Both yoga and pilates will help keep you flexible while toning your muscles. Yoga is also known for its calming effect, so mamas who are anxious can really benefit from applying these techniques on the big day.
Make sure that your instructor is trained to instruct exercise classes for pregnant mothers.
Note to mums-to-be: Before you start a new exercise regime, be sure to speak to your healthcare provider, and don’t forget to include those kegels!
Were you able to do some exercise during pregnancy? What were your favourites? Share with us by leaving a comment below!
This article was contributed by Nadia Lambrechts, founder of www.40weeks.com.sg