Healthier, Happier Pregnancy With Exercise
Womens Health > Healthier, Happier Pregnancy With Exercise
Pregnancy is an issue unique to the area of women's health. Exercise during pregnancy can help the experience be more pleasant. There are different types of exercise that can be done, from weight-bearing exercises to those that merely increase flexibility and strength, but don't involve the stress associated with weight-bearing exercises. As with all programs begun or continued through pregnancy, a doctor should be consulted to determine the benefits of exercise during pregnancy.
There is substantial evidence that exercise during pregnancy can be beneficial for women's health. Some of the benefits of exercise during pregnancy are reduced weight gain, more rapid weight loss following delivery, less susceptibility to mood swings and better sleep patterns. Many of these effects are present in anyone who follows an exercise program, but a pregnant woman will feel the benefits as a bonus. Additionally, there are some studies that indicate that exercise during pregnancy can actually result in faster labor, and a lower likelihood of a need to induce. Other studies suggest a lower need for an epidural and a lower incidence of a surgical delivery (C-section).
There are some basic things to remember when exercising during pregnancy. While some are applicable to everyone, many are tailored to fit this
- If you have not been exercising regularly prior to the pregnancy, don't overexert yourself. Start slow, and with the advice of your physician.
- Listen to your body. If something strains you, discontinue. Your body will know what it can handle. Don't exercise yourself breathless. Baby needs that oxygen too.
- Make sure to take frequent rests and drink plenty of liquids.
- Comfortable footwear that gives strong support should be worn during exercise.
- Do not participate in contact sports. Avoid running or cycling on uneven or rugged terrain. Joints are more susceptible to spraining while exercising during pregnancy.
- Don't exercise in hot weather.
- Avoid lifting weights above your head; weight train exercise during pregnancy should emphasize upper body and abdominal muscle tone. Avoid straining your back.
- Do not do exercises during the second and third trimesters that involve lying on your back. This decreases the vital blood flow to the placenta, and thus to your baby.
- Be sure to relax and stretch both before and after an exercise session.
For some, exercise during pregnancy should include exercises that do not include weight-bearing moves. Swimming, yoga and stretching can also be beneficial, without some of the strain. Many community pools, with concern for women's health during pregnancy, offer water exercise classes for pregnant women, and there are yoga classes and videos available for moms-to-be. Women who experience pre-term contractions, have a history of pre-term delivery or suffer lower back problems can benefit from these types of exercise during pregnancy. Women carrying more than one fetus should limit exercise during pregnancy to stretching and toning. As always, a doctor consultation should precede any program.
Exercise during pregnancy isn't for everyone. There are some situations that arise over the course of a pregnancy that can make it dangerous for mom as well as for baby. Toxemia, a condition of high blood pressure developed during pregnancy, can be worsened by exercise. Women with heart disease should be especially cautious of how they exercise while pregnant. Additionally, women who experience vaginal/placental bleeding during pregnancy should be advised against exercise during pregnancy.
Exercise is always a health issue, adding pregnancy makes it a uniquely women's health issue. Well-monitored exercise during pregnancy can help a woman physically, as well as mentally and emotionally, cope with the changes in her body during pregnancy.