How To Stay A Hot Mamma Throughout Your Pregnancy
It is very important for a woman to exercise at any stage of life and pregnancy should not be viewed as an excuse not to exercise.
Exercise is a great way to maintain your health and fitness for you and your baby.
In non-complicated pregnancies, women should get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise most or all days of the week.
During pregnancy your body is undergoing all sorts of transformations, the most obvious being its shape. As you start getting bigger, co-ordination and balancing gets a little tricky.
Growing a child within you takes a lot of resources from your system, and places new stresses on your body. Your heart has to pump for two, your lungs have to breathe for two, and your digestive system has to work for two. In fact all your body’s organs and systems have to cope with increased workload throughout your pregnancy.
Benefits of exercise during pregnancy:
- Better delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the placenta and the foetus
- Improved posture
- Stronger back muscles, which can help manage back pain and strain as your belly grows
- Exercise will help you feel better about your body during pregnancy and can help you maintain a healthy weight gain during pregnancy
- Less likelihood of varicose veins, haemorrhoids and constipation
- Stress relief
- Better sleep and more energy to face the day.
- Exercise will boost your energy level and reduce fatigue. You may feel like you are too tired to work out but once you do, you will quickly find your efforts well worth it
- Being active during pregnancy gives you more energy and stamina, and increase your ability to cope with the physical demands of motherhood
- Exercise may help lower the risk of getting it and control gestational diabetes by lowering blood sugar levels
- Regular exercise can give your emotional state a boost (something your partner’s sure to appreciate), offsetting those notorious pregnancy mood swings.
- Research shows that healthy pregnant women who exercise during pregnancy may have less risk of pre-term delivery and shorter labor, are less likely to need pain relief, and recover from childbirth faster.
Before You Get Started:
- Warm up
- Take it easy at first and slow down if necessary
- Keep well hydrated and stay cool
- Accommodate your changing size and shape
- Avoid rapid changes in direction and bouncing during exercise
- Avoid lying on your belly
- Don’t hold your breath and maintain correct posture
- Get up from the floor slowly. As you get bigger, you’ll need to start thinking about rolling onto your side before you sit up.
During first trimester you may well be too nauseous or fatigued. If that’s the case don’t sweat it. There’s plenty of time for you to start exercising once you’re feeling better!
During your first trimester, your chance of a natural miscarriage is highest, so it’s really important that you don’t overdo your exercise.
At this stage a gentle, general program of mild exercises and stretches is recommended.
Use light resistance only, no fast running or swimming.
Pilates and yoga are excellent and safe exercises to do during the first trimester and beyond.
As you start to feel better moving into your second trimester, you may feel more like exercising. It’s important to keep it mild and easy throughout your pregnancy.
After the first trimester you need to start strengthen the back. Due to the additional weight from the baby it’s inevitable that your posture will be affected.
Get a resistance band and start working those back muscles!
Start incorporating pelvic tilt exercises. Go for low resistance but high repetitions.
Make sure you don’t hold your breath whilst exercising. Avoid rapid change of movement.
Third trimester– Almost there! Your body is changing rapidly now as your baby starts to get really big!
Avoid extreme stretches and excessive heart rate (above 150 bpm)
Avoid bending your spine forwards under load (ie abdominal crunches).
During the third trimester it’s recommended that you do no more then 3 sessions a week.
Baby Bump Faves:
Walking is definitely at the top of the list for pregnant women, especially if you weren’t exercising before you got pregnant.
It gives the whole body a workout and is a great way to exercise at moderate intensity while working the heart. Rope in your partner or a friend for added fun.
Walking stimulates Braxton-Hicks contractions. These lead to the production of the hormone relaxin that loosens your ligaments in preparation for giving birth.
Whether you’re on a trail or a treadmill, walking can safely help tone your muscles and improve your mood.
It’s also something most women can do right up to delivery. Increase your time and speed a little each week, and build in hills as you get stronger.
Swimming or moderate aqua aerobics are great as they don’t put stress on the joints. They may also help with any leg or back pain pregnant women can experience.
Yoga strengthens core muscles, eases back pain, and helps you relax.
Try a pre-natal class, which is gentler and focuses on relaxation – a good preparation for labor.
Avoid the “hot yoga,” Bikram, and after your first trimester, don’t lie on your back.
Yoga classes will provide you with a wonderfully nurturing, renewing practice that will safely strengthen your body for childbirth, as well as working with your breath, centreing and focus.
Pilates can strengthen core muscles, support good posture, and prevent back pain once you begin gaining weight.
Pilates may also improve balance and stability, strengthen pelvic floor muscles to help with delivery, and speed up weight loss after childbirth.
Join a pre-natal Pilates class or ask a certified instructor for modifications to use during pregnancy.
Pelvic Floor Exercise- Kegel
Unlike your biceps, triceps, calves and quadriceps, these muscles are invisible and perhaps that explains why they’re often forgotten.
Kegels strengthen the muscles that help hold up your uterus, bladder, and bowels, which helps labor and delivery. If these muscles are weak, they can be stretched and weakened further when your baby passes through them to be born.
Apart from the fact that strong pelvic floor muscles have a positive role to play in the birthing process, they also mean that you won’t suffer from incontinence, which is very distressing and debilitating.
First of all you need to visualise these important muscles. They are a sling-like band which forms the base of your vagina, anus and urethra.
The beauty of Kegel exercises is that you can do them anytime, anywhere, without anyone knowing.
To do them, squeeze your pelvic muscles as if you’re trying to stop urinating or passing gas.
Begin by contracting the pelvic floor muscles as tightly as you can for a count of 10, then relax.
Repeat the contraction for a total of five contractions.
In sets of five contractions, aim for a total of 25 to 50 contractions done as tightly as possible. Remember to breathe normally as you do the exercise.
Strengthening your back, buttock and abdominal muscles is particularly important since these form a supportive girdle around your lower body.
If these muscles are strong, your advancing pregnancy is less likely to cause backache. Resistance exercise to strengthen your muscles can be done using free weights or resistance bands.
Repeat each exercise 10 times, than have a rest for 60 seconds (1 set). As you can become stronger you can increase the number of repetitions and the number of sets.
Avoid heavy weights or routines where you have to lie flat on your back. If you weren’t strength training before you got pregnant, find another exercise for now.
Women with pregnancy complications or a history of miscarriage should avoid weightlifting during pregnancy
Stretching Exercises to improve posture, flexibility, and balance
Perform stretches for all of the major muscles, such as legs, chest, back and shoulders.
These exercises can be performed daily or at least four times per week.
Perform all exercises in a slow, controlled manner. Hold all of the stretches for 10 to 30 seconds without bouncing.
Do stretches after the body has been warmed up, such as after a walk.
Cat stretch is an exercise which will benefit you the most during the second trimester of your pregnancy.
Important Things To Remember
- Drink Up! You’re not just eating for two, you’re drinking for two as well. Your body needs more water to stay hydrated, especially during exercise. So “think drink” and down about 10 cups of liquids a day. Drink before, during, and after workouts
- After 20 weeks of pregnancy, avoid exercises performed while lying on your back.
- Always make sure to breathe normally. Don’t hold your breath upon exertion.
- Sports to avoid include scuba diving, water skiing, horseback riding, downhill skiing, cross-country skiing and contact sports, such as basketball, hockey, and soccer.
- Don’t exercise in hot, humid weather or wear excessive clothing.
- Get up slowly from the floor to avoid dizziness or fainting.
- Your ligaments are more prone to injury during this time. Avoid deep knee bends, full sit-ups, double leg raises and straight-leg toe touches.
- Steer clear from jumping and jarring motions as well as rapid changes in direction.
Know When To Stop
If you have any of the following symptoms, stop exercising right away:
- dizziness or faintness
- shortness of breath
- rapid or irregular heartbeat
- difficulty walking
- persistent contractions (6 to 8 per hour)