Dr Girija Wagh, Obstetrician, Gynecologist, IVF expertMD, FICOG, DIP ENDO, FICS
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Exercising during pregnancy 🤰🏼 associated with many doubts. Is it truly necessary to exercise or should the pregnancy woman rest are the two extremely opposite points between which we have to balance correctly the exercise schedule during pregnancy. This
write-up will help you to understand and choose the right exercise routine to make your pregnancy fun and safe and ensure that you have a wonderful delivery exercise. Be assured that this article is based on evidence and recommendations made by many responsible scientific bodies across the globe.
“The World Health Organisation global recommendations on physical activity for health recognises a sedentary lifestyle and excessive weight gain as independent risk factors for maternal obesity and related co-morbidities, such as gestational diabetes, but cautions that pregnant and postpartum women may need to take extra safeguards and seek medical advice before attempting to achieve the recommended levels of physical activity for their age group “.
I have never exercised before my pregnancy is it alright to begin now ?🤔
Women who have had a sedentary lifestyle and haven’t exercised at all before in pregnancy can start a 10-20 minutes low intensity exercise routines four times in a week. Brisk walking 🏃🏼♂️ stretches🧘🏽♀️, yoga, Tai-chi are such examples.
Are exercises during pregnancy truly helpful ?🤔
Exercises help burn calories thus the weight is controlled. Exercises help prevent diabetes and helps control diabetes. Physical activity also helps in lowering the blood pressure, lower stress and helps with depression. Exercises also help strengthening back muscles, pelvic muscles and respiration. Blood circulation and perfusion help prevent blood thickening and causing complications. Proper circulation of blood prevents swelling and tiredness and improves body tone and posture. Increased muscle strength helps in achieving vaginal delivery.
What are the recommended exercises in pregnancy ?
Low impact aerobic exercises are universally safe. Walking, aerobic dancing, stationary cycling are examples of this. In women who had been jogging and swimming before pregnancy can continue these during pregnancy if no contraindications or risks exist. The duration and frequency of these are for 20-30 minutes for 3-5 days per week. The exercise intensity should be optimal and this can be self-assessed by perceived exertion, or the ability to talk while exercising. Any exercises which put the mother at risk of injury or fall are to be avoided.
How can I maintain or improve my body tone during pregnancy ?
Some exercises help in body toning. Exercises such as resistant bands, dumbbells and body weight exercises involving large muscles of the body such as squats. These can be done using light weights with 1 or 2 repetitions for 15 -20 minutes 3-5 times in a week. Isometric exercises, Valsalva which increases intra-abdominal pressures, frequent heavyweights, hot yoga or Pilates or exercises done with the back on the floor ( supine position ) are better avoided. Pelvic floor exercises typically called the Kegel’s exercises help in pelvic floor strengthening. The pelvic muscle are squeezed and released repeatedly at least 100 times over 15-20 minutes 3-5 times in week. These also help in controlling the urinary leakage towards the end of pregnancy and recovery of the pelvic area early after delivery.
Do I need to consult my doctor before starting any exercise ?
Yes, some conditions in your pregnancy may have exercises contraindicated such as heart disease or raised blood pressure or diabetes or baby issues. Some risk factors may exist where the doctor will guide you. Some special modifications can be done in the schedule where your doctor can guide you.
Is there any recommended pattern for exercise ?
Yes, the usual way of warm up, workout and cool down should be followed.
Warm up : 5 minutes of stretches at all joints or light aerobic exercise such as a slow walk helps in warming up and preventing muscle injuries
Work out : Walk fast, swim or use a walker or a static cycle or any yoga stretches or stances with some resistance training, aerobic dancing for 10-15 minutes
Cool-down : Stretches or sitting exercises such as the butterfly or light aerobics for 5 minutes can help in preventing dizziness and muscle cramps. Deep breathing exercises can be part of the cooling down ritual.
How often should I exercise ?
Recommendations mention at least 30 minutes in day on 5 or more days in week . If such a stretch tires you then you can spilt it in two stages of 15 or 10 minutes each.
When should I know that the exercise is causing a problem and I need to see the doctor ?
Pain or pressure in the chest, arms, throat or back, nausea, vomiting, heavy fluttering of the heart, dizziness, fainting attacks, any bleeding, watery discharge needs immediate assessment by the doctor
What are the precautions I need total during exercising ?
Do not get dehydrated and drink a lot of fluids especially water. Outdoor exercising in the heat to be avoided .comfortable footwear and layered clothing is better. Maintenance of hydration is important for heat balance during prolonged exercise. Appropriate calorie balance should be maintained and women should be able to identify the occurrence of hypoglycaemia.
What are the benefits of exercise during pregnancy ?
Helps in structured healthy weight gain, reduces backache, reduced leg cramps and swelling, improves posture and enhances confidence and positive attitude
Are there any risks associated with exercise in pregnancy ?
The risks are minimal and moderate exercises do not directly cause any harm to the pregnancy. But pregnant mothers are at a greater risk of injuries, falls and therefore the exercise routine should be carefully selected. It is better to be medically evaluated for any contraindications before setting an exercise program during pregnancy. Women at risk of preterm deliveries or with fetal growth restriction or heart disease can reduce the exercise intensity towards the third trimester.
This blog will surely help you in addition shortly we will post some exercise visuals, exercises after delivery and exercise after cesarean delivery. Look out here for more happy and blissful pregnancy to all.
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