Your Guide To Exercising Safely During Pregnancy
Exercising during pregnancy can help you prepare for labour and delivery. Staying active can also help you maintain your health and feel good. Regular exercise during pregnancy can reduce several risks like C-section, premature birth, gestational diabetes, high blood pressure disorders like preeclampsia, low birth weight of the infant, and excessive weight gain.
Dr Anindita Majumdar Bhattacharya, Consultant Physiotherapist, Motherhood Hospitals, Bengaluru, says, “If you were physically active before pregnancy, you must continue physical workouts with a few modifications. Avoid strenuous activity and do low impact aerobics and moderate-intensity workouts, as recommended by your healthcare provider. Physical activity will also prevent backaches, boost your energy, help you sleep better, reduce constipation, swelling and bloating.” She lists a few exercises for every trimester.
Exercises During The First Trimester
Continue with your regular exercises in the first trimester to control a wide range of emotions. During the early stage of pregnancy, you might find it hard to deal with bodily changes like morning sickness and discomfort. You may also start feeling more responsible towards your health and nourishing your baby. Therefore, to maintain your health, you must perform exercises to increase cardiovascular activity for at least 120 minutes a week. Also, devote two to three days every week towards strengthening muscle groups.
Some exercises that you can try are:
- Half Squats
This is the best time to do some mini squats to strengthen your muscles in the lower body. You can also go for full squats in later stages of pregnancy, after your physiotherapist has given you a heads up.
- Water Aerobics And Swimming
You can do some water aerobics and swimming to build your strength as they are low-impact. Get out of the pool the moment you feel tired. You can hire a trainer who can help you with a safe pool routine. During the COVID-19 pandemic, this may be difficult to do; caution is advised.
- Wall Push-Ups
These will strengthen your upper body and pelvic bridging and tilting to keep your pelvic muscles strong.
Exercises During The Second Trimester
You can continue most of the exercises from the first trimester until you feel good and healthy during your pregnancy. However, avoid lying on your back for long periods and try some variations. Do not perform any high-impact exercises like running or jumping as you will need to be careful with your physical activity.
Some exercises that you can do during the second trimester are:
- Stationary Cycling
Stationary cycling can build your muscle strength as it does not put any stress on your growing belly or abdomen. If it makes you feel comfortable, you can continue doing the exercise.
- Incline Push-Ups
These can help you strengthen the chest, shoulders and triceps.
- Mermaid Stretch
During the second trimester, you may suffer from discomfort on your diaphragm and ribs as the baby grows. To reduce the pain, mermaid stretch is the best option for you.
“You can also try different kinds of squats like half squats, wide squats and narrow squats, along with swimming and yoga. But getting the exercise prescription from a trained physiotherapist is a must,” advises Dr Bhattacharya.
Exercises During The Third Trimester
If you think you cannot exercise as you approach childbirth and labour, you are wrong. As your body starts preparing itself for childbirth, you must focus on abdominal strength. You can continue walking, doing yoga and some at-home workouts like squats, arm lifts, leg lifts and lunges. You must spend at least 30 minutes exercising every day. Some pelvic floor exercises like Kegels can help you strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, avoid urine leakage or urinary incontinence, which happens at this stage.
Exercising during pregnancy is important for both, the mother and the baby. However, listen to your body if you face any discomfort or pain. Do not push your body to do certain high-impact exercises as you should be careful. If you are unable to talk while doing exercises or feel back pain or pelvic pain, call your doctor right away to avoid any risks. Avoid watching online videos and mimicking the exercises. A thorough video consultation with your physiotherapist will help you get a safe and customised exercise plan best suited for your pregnancy.