Pregnancy is no longer an excuse to eat all you want and avoid any type of exercising. Exercising during pregnancy is important for toning muscles, maintaining good health, relieving backaches and preparing for labor and delivery. Moderate exercising 30 minutes a day for 3 to 5 days a week is recommended for most pregnant women; however, even if you were physically fit before, pregnancy requires a different type of exercising. Always check with your health care provider to discuss any health issues you might have that might be affected by exercise.
Prepare to exercise. Wear comfortable clothing that doesn’t bind, including a well-fitting bra. Wear shoes for your style of exercise; proper shoes will prevent back and leg injuries. Exercise on a flat surface. Wait for 1 hour after eating before exercising. Stay hydrated during your exercise routine.
Warm up for a minimum of 5 minutes. Warm-up exercises can include reaching both arms upward, reaching an arm upward and then bending and reaching toward the opposite side, gentle ballet plies, rotating your neck and shoulders, and arm and ankle circles. These exercises warm up your muscles and help prevent injury.
Begin the aerobic portion of your exercise. These include walking, swimming, using an indoor exercise bike, a step machine or elliptical glider. Low-impact aerobics are good under the supervision of a certified aerobics teacher. The aerobic portion of your exercise routine should last about 15 minutes. Check your pulse during aerobic exercises; it should not exceed 140 beats per minute.
Cool down for 10 minutes. This can include gradually slowing the aerobic exercises and including some exercises from the warm-up time. Allow your heart rate to slow down and give your muscles a chance to gradually relax.
Do Tailor exercises throughout the day. These strengthen the legs, pelvis and hips and can also ease back pain. Sit on the floor in the ‘”tailor” position, bending your knees and crossing your ankles. Keep your back straight while leaning gently forward. Then move your feet so that your soles are pressed together. Grab your ankles and try to move your ankles toward your body. Move your hands to your knees and slowly press down while inhaling, for a count of 5.
Do Kegel exercises each day. Kegels strengthen the bladder, uterus and bowel muscles. Tighten the pelvic muscles, as if you were trying to stop the flow of urine; do not tighten any other muscles. Hold the pelvic muscle for a slow count of 5 and relax. Repeat this 10 times. This is one set; do five sets of Kegels daily.
- Be conscious of your body during exercising. Don’t push yourself, and stop if you feel weak, dizzy or have unusual pain.
- Be careful getting up from the floor to prevent dizziness.
- Stop exercising and contact your health care provider if you feel pain in your chest, abdomen or pelvis, or if you have persistent contractions, shortness of breath, a sudden gush of fluid or blood, heart palpitations or sudden dizziness. Check with your health care provider for other warning signs you should watch for during exercising.