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Article: Exercise During Pregnancy

In This Article:
  • Ideal exercises to try
  • Exercises to avoid
  • Toning your pelvic floor muscles

Keeping fit helps you to cope with the physical demands of your pregnancy because exercise promotes muscle tone, strength and endurance. It can help you to carry the weight you gain during pregnancy, prepare for the physical stress of labour, and makes getting back in to shape after the baby is born much easier. Exercise is also good for reducing stress which can be a concern during pregnancy and it can help you sleep better at night.

Before beginning any exercise program, make sure you consult with your healthcare professional and if you are taking part in any class inform your instructor that you are pregnant. Pregnancy is not the time to start a new vigorous exercise regime. Gentle forms of exercise such as walking, swimming and yoga are best as they are both gentle and effective.

Ideal Exercises:

  • Swimming is an excellent exercise to do when pregnant as your body weight is supported by the water, meaning that you can keep your muscles toned without strain or injury. It is also good at improving stamina.
  • Walking is ideal for anyone as it is so easy to do and needs no facilities. Brisk walking may become harder to keep up towards the end of your pregnancy as your back is under increasing strain.
  • Yoga is a gentle form of exercise that helps to release tension, increase the mobility of joints, and improve circulation and breathing.

If you haven't exercised recently, start slowly. If you exercise regularly, make sure you do a proper warm up. Take care of your back, which is vulnerable to strain during pregnancy, and have plenty to drink with you.

Pregnancy is not the time to participate in activities in which there is a chance of injury to you or your baby. These activities include strenuous athletics such as high-jumping or sprinting, high-risk activities such as horseback riding and downhill skiing. Sit-ups that pull on your abdominal muscles should be avoided.

You may want to try these gentle exercises to strengthen your pelvic muscles:

The Pelvic Floor Exercise

Well-toned pelvic floor muscles will function more efficiently during childbirth to allow the baby out more easily. Tone these muscles by closing your back passage and front passage (as if you are stopping a bowel movement, your urine flow, and gripping a tampon all at the same time!). Hold this for a count of four and then relax. Repeat 10 times.

These exercises can be performed in any position: standing, sitting or lying down. If you are doing them for the first time it is recommended to be seated.

Pelvic Tilt: Standing

This exercise lengthens muscles in the lower back and helps strengthen abdominal muscles to take the weight of a growing baby. Lean against a wall with your feet slightly apart and away from the wall with your knees slightly bent. Feel the back of your head, shoulder blades and spine resting against the wall, and breathe in. As you breathe out, press the back of your waist into the wall so that your bottom moves away from it a little. This is a very small movement. Repeat several times slowly with correct breathing.

Pelvic Tilt: All Fours

Now practice the same tilting movement on all fours. Circling your pelvis and rocking your whole body back and forth in this position can also help.

 
          

Tip!

Tips to cope with heartburn during pregnancy include:

  • eating small meals
  • avoiding fatty foods
  • waiting two hours after eating before lying down
  • always sitting up straight
 

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