Keep It Moving: Exercise In Pregnancy
A lot of women use pregnancy as an excuse to put their feet up and do nothing much at all for, oh, nine months or so. After all, you are pregnant. Besides, the pregnancy makes you feel sleepy, your back hurts and maybe your ankles are swollen, too. But unless your pregnancy generates some serious health issues, doing nothing means giving up the chance to improve your health and your birth experience.
Exercise can benefit you in many ways during your pregnancy. The right exercise plan won't tire you out. On the contrary, you'll feel a burst of energy every time you work out. The right kind of physical exercise will get you ready for labor by giving you more muscle strength and stamina. Getting yourself into prime physical condition may even speed up your labor and shorten delivery time, too.
Of course, it almost goes without saying that before you embark on an exercise plan, you should get an okay from your health provider. If you have a history of going into labor before term or have certain medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, or any problem with the placenta, you'll have to moderate your level of physical activity in accordance with your doctor's instructions.
Once you're cleared for an exercise program, shoot for 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day, if possible. That's according to the recommendation of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. But even if you don't work out every day, or you go for a shorter workout routine, you'll be that much farther ahead in keeping fit and getting ready for labor.
Next, you'll want to choose the exercise that makes you happy. Walking is a great choice, especially if you don't have much exercise experience. Walking doesn't stress your joints and gives you a just the right kind of aerobic exercise. But you might decide instead to choose swimming, or riding a stationary bike. What you want to avoid is contact sports like football or Judo, scuba diving, or exercises that may lead to abdominal injuries or falls. It's also best to avoid exercises that force you to lie on your back.
If you're experienced with exercising, you can probably stick to the same exercise routine you had before the pregnancy, as long as it feels comfortable and you get an okay from your doctor. But if you're new to exercise, build up your level of activity slowly. Start with a 5 minute routine and tack on another 5 minutes every week until you've reached a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise daily. Make sure to stretch just before and just after every workout and stay hydrated to prevent overheating.