Pregnancy might seem like a good time to relax and put your feet up but it is important to be active and keep moving. If done correctly, exercise does wonders during pregnancy.
Becoming active and exercising at least 30 minutes on most, if not all, days of the week can benefit your health during pregnancy in multiple ways. Exercise can help reduce backache, constipation, bloating and swelling. It may help prevent or treat high blood sugar in pregnancy. Some amount of regular activity increases your energy, improves your mood, improves posture and promotes muscle tone, strength, and endurance. It even helps you sleep better. The more active and fit you are during pregnancy, the easier it will be for you to adapt to the changing body shape and to weight gain. It will enhance your ability to cope with labour and to get back into shape after childbirth. Initiation of pelvic floor exercises in the immediate postpartum period may reduce the risk of future urinary incontinence.
Certain sports are safe during pregnancy, such as walking and swimming, aquanatal classes. Low impact aerobics and pilates is a good way to keep your heart and lungs strong. Reasonable goals of aerobics in pregnancy should be to maintain a good fitness level throughout pregnancy without trying to reach peak fitness. Yoga induces flexibility and helps breath control and pain management. Moderate exercise during lactation does not affect the quantity or composition of breast milk or impact infant growth.
Activities in which there is a high risk of falling, such as gymnastics, water skiing, and horseback ridingas well as racquet sports, should be avoided. Pregnant women should not engage in contact sports, such as hockey, basketball, and soccer. Scuba diving can put your baby at risk of decompression sickness.
Exercise is contraindicated if you have high blood pressure, low placenta, twins or triplets, ruptured membranes, preterm labour, incompetent cervix, bleeding at any stage or any serious medical problems in present and past pregnancies. It is prudent to contact your obstetrician before attempting exercises.
Adequate hydration and proper ventilation are important to prevent possible effects of overheating.Always warm up before exercising, and cool down afterwards. The intensity, duration and frequency of exercise should start at a level that does not result in pain, shortness of breath or excessive fatigue. Exercises performed in the supine position are inadvisable after the first trimester, as are prolonged periods of motionless standing.
Whether you were active before pregnancy or not, it is wise to start some amount of moderate activity regularly to keep fit in pregnancy and afterwards.
Dr. Vandana Kumar
Obstetrics & Gynecology Specialist
Bahrain Specialist Hospital