Exercising during pregnancy can be beneficial for both the mother and the baby, but it's important to understand the changes happening to your body and things to stop doing or alter in your workouts.
First and foremost, it's important to note that every pregnancy is unique and some women may have medical conditions or complications that may limit their ability to exercise. Therefore, it's important to consult with your midwife if you do have a underlying condition or are a high risk pregnancy.
That being said, for most healthy pregnant women, regular physical activity can help improve overall health and well-being, as well as prepare for childbirth. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity on most, if not all, days of the week during pregnancy. Examples of moderate-intensity activities include brisk walking, swimming, and cycling on a stationary bike.
It's also important to focus on exercises that target the pelvic floor muscles, as these muscles play a crucial role in supporting the uterus and the baby during pregnancy and childbirth. Kegel exercises, which involve contracting and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles, can be done in a seated or standing position and can be done at any time throughout the day.
Additionally, pregnant women should also focus on maintaining good posture and balance, as the growing baby can cause changes in body mechanics. Yoga and Pilates are great options for pregnant women as they focus on strengthening the core and maintaining balance.
It's also important to listen to your body and avoid any activities that cause discomfort or pain. As the pregnancy progresses, it may become more difficult to perform certain exercises, and it's important to adjust the exercise routine accordingly. Additionally, women should avoid exercises that involve lying on the back after the first trimester, as this position can put pressure on the vena cava, the main vein that carries blood to the baby. Other exercise that should be avoid include:
Contact sports: Activities that involve the risk of falling or being hit, such as soccer, basketball, and ice hockey, should be avoided during pregnancy.
High-intensity exercises: Pregnant women should avoid exercises that involve rapid changes in direction, such as tennis, squash, and high-impact aerobics, as they increase the risk of falling.
Scuba diving: The pressure changes that occur while diving can be harmful to the baby and should be avoided during pregnancy.
Hot yoga: Pregnant women should avoid hot yoga and other activities that involve high temperatures, as they can cause dehydration and raise the mother's core body temperature.
Lying on the back: After the first trimester, pregnant women should avoid exercises that involve lying on the back, as this position can put pressure on the vena cava, the main vein that carries blood to the baby.
High altitude: Pregnant women should avoid high altitude activities such as climbing and skiing, as the lack of oxygen at high altitudes can be harmful to the baby.
It's also important to stay hydrated and well-nourished during pregnancy, as the body's energy needs increase. Pregnant women should aim to consume at least 8-12 cups of fluid per day, and should make sure they are consuming a balanced diet that includes adequate amounts of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats.
You will also want to ensure what ever activity you decide to participate in you are dressed comfortably in leggings and a sports bra that support you. This might seem like an big expense but if you invest in leggings that can be worn through pregnancy and postpartum you will get years of wear out of them. Additionally a Sports Bra that is also suitable for breastfeeding but has discreet clips means it doesn't matter if you are able/want to breastfeed you have the option.
In conclusion, regular physical activity during pregnancy can be beneficial for both the mother and the baby. Pregnant women should focus on moderate-intensity aerobic activity and exercises that target the pelvic floor muscles, as well as maintaining good posture and balance. Additionally, it's important to listen to your body and avoid any activities that cause discomfort or pain, stay hydrated and well-nourished, and adjust the exercise routine as the pregnancy progresses.