Keeping Active During Your Pregnancy
Now that we know the benefits of being active during pregnancy, (see Friday’s post), it’s time to get down to the details. Here are some tips for active mamas-to-be.
Hints & Tips
Make exercise a daily habit. You’ll really feel the benefits by doing something every single day. Even a half hour walk is enough. If that seems like a lot, anything is better than nothing. If you weren’t as active before, now is not the time to take up strenuous activity. If you start an aerobic programme like running, swimming, cycling, walking or other aerobics classes, always tell the instructor that you’re pregnant. Aim for 15 minutes of continuos exercise, 3 times a week and build up gradually to at least four 30-minute sessions a week. And remember, a little is a lot! Exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous to be beneficial.
Slow down, stay hydrated and don’t skip the warm-up and cool-down. It’s important that you don’t exhaust yourself, especially as your pregnancy progresses. If in doubt about how hard you should work, consult your doctor. As a general rule, you should be able to hold a conversation as you exercise. If you become breathless as you talk, you’re probably exercising too strenuously.
Activities to avoid:
Avoid contact sports or anything with the risk of being hit or falling (like horse-riding, downhill skiing, ice hockey, gymnastics, cycling).
Don’t lie flat on your back – especially after 16 weeks. The weight of your bump presses on the main blood vessel bringing blood back to your heart and this can make you feel faint.
No scuba-diving either. The baby has no protection against decompression sickness and gas embolism (gas bubbles in the bloodstream).
Don’t exercise at heights over 2,500m above sea level unitl you have acclimatised, in order to reduce the risk of altitude sickness.
Exercises to include:
Swimming. The water will support your extra weight, take pressure off your sciatic nerve and cool you down. Look out for aquanatal classes with qualified instructors.
Stomach-strenghtening exercises. As your baby grows, so does your backache. Try these exercises to strengthen your abdominal muscles and ease the pain.
Start on all fours, knees under hips, hands under shoulders, fingers facing forward and abdominals lifted. Your back should be straight. Pull your stomach muscles in and raise your back to the ceiling. Allow your head to gently relax forward. Don’t let your elbows lock. Hold the position for a few seconds and return to your original position. Make sure you don’t hollow your back – it should always return to a straight position. Do this slowly and rhythmically for 10 minutes. Only move your back as far as you can comfortably.
Try a Pelvic tilt exercise by standing with your shoulders and bottom against the wall. Keep your knees soft and pull your belly button towards your spine so that you feel your back flatten against the wall. Hold for 4 seconds and release. Repeat 10 times.
Pelvic floor exercises are important for all pregnant women, whether or not you are suffering from stress incontinence. Your pelvic floor supports your internal organs and plays a key role during childbirth.