Time to move that body, moms-to-be
That pregnant women shouldn’t exercise is a myth. Don’t believe us? Dr Wajiha Falak, senior physiotherapist from Rashtrapati Bhawan spills the beans on exercising during pregnancy
When your mom was pregnant, chances are she wasn’t pedalling furiously at spin class or doing ball squats. Back then, doctors worried that exercise might harm the growing baby, so they didn’t encourage moms-to-be to exercise. Not anymore. Studies have shown that prenatal inactivity — not exercise — puts babies at risk. “For low-risk pregnancies, prenatal exercise is absolutely safe,” says Michelle Mottola, Ph. D., director of the exercise and pregnancy lab at the University of Western Ontario.
Using your nine months as a license to loaf, on the other hand, can make you more prone to excessive weight gain ( which raises your odds of a C- section), pregnancy- induced high blood pressure and gestational diabetes. Exercise can prevent early onset of labour, premature rupture of membrane, and can even help shorten the duration of labour.
Benefits for your baby
When pregnant women exercise, it improves the baby’s stress tolerance and allows the brain to mature. Babies born to women who exercise, in some studies, have also been seen to have a better birth weight than those who don’t. The studies do warn, however, that vigorous exercises could result in lighter offspring.
For women who have earlier been sedentary, non-weightbearing activities such as swimming, stationary cycling and moderate walking is best. A schedule of 20 to 30-minute exercise sessions daily at an easy pace is a reasonable goal. Those who were in the habit of exercising even before pregnancy can continue to do so. Studies have proved that exercises such as aerobics, circuit training, taking the stairs, swimming, biking and running remains a way of life for at least 25% of all women planning pregnancy.
Kegels manoeuvre: This exercise involves alternate contraction and relaxation of the muscles of pelvic outlet and the birth canal. Strengthening these muscles supports the abdomen and prevents the uterus and the bladder from falling through, especially after having kids. Relaxing these muscles teaches moms how to let the baby pass through the birth canal.
Squatting: Squatting during pregnancy helps increase the mobility of the pelvic joints and strengthens the legs. A squatting position during birth can increase the pelvic outlet by as much as 25%. However, it should be avoided after 32 weeks of gestation if there are medical complications such as a cervical stitch or haemorrhoids. But squatting can be practised safely if it does not cause discomfort.
Pelvic floor muscle
training: Stress incontinence is a disturbing problem during pregnancy. A study in 2011 has found that 8-12 contractions of pelvic floor preterm labour with present or previous pregnancies are indications that they should not exercise.
Pregnant women should also avoid sports such as volleyball and tennis or any activity that might cause abdominal trauma. They should also avoid exercising at high altitude as these areas have a lower amount of oxygen.
There are warning signs that pregnant women should stop exercising and seek medical attention — fatigue, pain in the back or pubic area, dizziness, shortness of breath, palpitation, decreased foetal movement, persistent contractions and vaginal bleeding. Most importantly, your doctor must be kept in the loop at all times and updated of your condition regularly.