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Exercise during pregnancy

posted Dec 5, 2014, 4:05 AM by shailesh verma   [ updated Dec 11, 2014, 11:28 PM ]
It’s a common myth in Indian women that they should avoid exercise during pregnancy. The belief is that since they are nurturing a life inside their bodies, they should try to conserve energy so that more of it is available to pass on to the baby. This no longer holds true, as exercise is a big plus for both you and your baby (if complications don't limit your ability to exercise throughout your pregnancy). It can help you to have
* Easier labor
* Quicker Labor
* More energy during labor
* Less chance of a Caesarean section
* Optimal Weight gain during pregnancy
* Less chance of constipation and heartburn
* Decrease chance of swelling and varicose veins
* Less back pain.
* Improvement in sleep
* More energy
* Less chance of miscarriage
* Better psychological state of mind. Improves mood and body image.
* Lose weight quicker after delivery

A safe exercise plan during pregnancy depends on when you start and whether your pregnancy is complicated. If you exercised regularly before becoming pregnant, continue your program, with modifications, as you need them. If you weren't fit before you became pregnant, don't give up! Begin slowly and build gradually as you become stronger. Whatever your fitness level, you should talk to your doctor about exercising while you're pregnant.
Discuss any concerns you have with your doctor. You may need to limit your exercise if you have:
· pregnancy-induced high blood pressure
· early contractions
· vaginal bleeding
· premature rupture of your membranes, also known as your water (the fluid in the amniotic sac around the fetus) breaking early

Always talk to your doctor before beginning any exercise program. Once you're ready to get going:
· Start gradually. Even 5 minutes a day is a good start if you've been inactive. Add 5 minutes each week until you reach 30 minutes.
· Dress comfortably in loose-fitting clothes and wear a supportive bra to protect your breasts.
· Drink plenty of water to avoid overheating and dehydration.
· Skip your exercises if you're sick.
· Opt for a walk in an air-conditioned mall on hot, humid days.

The kind of exercises that you can do depends on what interests you and what your doctor advises. Many women enjoy dancing, swimming, yoga, biking, or walking. Swimming is especially appealing, as it gives you welcome buoyancy (floatability or the feeling of weightlessness).

Many experts recommend walking. If you're just starting, begin with a moderately brisk pace for a kilometer, 3 days a week. Add a couple of minutes every week and gradually pick up the pace. It is important to go slowly for the first 5 minutes to warm up and to slow down for the last 5 minutes to cool down.

Whatever type of exercise you and your doctor decide on, the key is to listen to your body's warnings. Many women, for example, become dizzy early in their pregnancy, and as the baby grows, their center of gravity changes. So it may be easy for you to lose your balance, especially in the last trimester.

Your energy level may also vary greatly from day to day. And as your baby grows and pushes up on your lungs, you'll notice a decreased ability to breathe in more air (and the oxygen it contains) when you exercise. Your body is signaling that it's had enough if you feel fatigue, dizziness, heart palpitations (your heart pounding in your chest), shortness of breath or pain in your back or pelvis.

And if you can't talk while you're exercising, you're doing it too strenuously. You should also keep your heart rate below 160 beats per minute.

It also isn't good for your baby if you become overheated because temperatures greater than 102.6 degrees Fahrenheit (39 degrees Celsius) could cause problems with the developing fetus - especially in the first trimester - which can potentially lead to birth defects. So don't overdo exercise on hot days.

When the weather is hot, try to avoid exercising outside during the hottest part of the day (from about 10 AM to 3 PM) or exercise in an air-conditioned place. Also remember that swimming makes it more difficult for you to notice your body heating up because the water makes you feel cooler.

Most doctors recommend that pregnant women avoid weight training and sit-ups after the first trimester, especially women who are at risk for preterm labor.

Lifting reduces the blood flow to the kidneys and uterus, and exercises done on your back (including sit-ups and leg lifts) cause your heart rate to drop, also decreasing the flow of oxygenated blood to your body and the baby. It's better to tone your abdominal muscles while on all fours, by relaxing and then tightening your muscles as you exhale.

Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, it's also a good idea to avoid any activities that include:
· bouncing
· jarring (anything that would cause a lot of up and down movement)
· leaping
· a sudden change of direction
· a risk of abdominal injury

Typical limitations include contact sports, downhill skiing, scuba diving, and horseback riding because of the risk of injury they pose.

Although some doctors say step aerobics is acceptable if you can lower the height of your step as your pregnancy progresses, others caution that a changing center of gravity makes falls much more likely. If you do choose to do aerobics, just make sure to avoid becoming extremely winded or exercising to the point of exhaustion.

And check with your doctor if you experience any of these warning signs during any type of exercise:
· vaginal bleeding
· unusual pain
· dizziness or lightheadedness
· unusual shortness of breath
· racing heartbeat or chest pain
· fluid leaking from your vagina
· uterine contractions

What Are Kegel Exercises?
Kegel exercises are equally important during and after pregnancy to help restore the tone and strength of your birth canal.

Kegel exercises help strengthen your pelvic muscles, which weaken during childbirth. If these muscles are weak, you can have bladder control problems. You may also find that intercourse is more fulfilling when you have control of your kegel muscles.

It is very easy to do Kegels exercises. Pretend that you are trying to stop the flow of urine the next time you are sitting on the toilet (or anywhere for that matter). Those are the very muscles you need to contract in order to do your Kegels.

Be sure when you are doing your Kegel’s that you concentrate on the pelvic floor muscles specifically; try not to do any other exercises. You should squeeze for about 15 seconds several times per day.

It is important that you don’t overdo your Kegel’s particularly in the early weeks after birth, or you may become very sore. Consider working up to doing three sets of ten repetitions over the course of the day.

Remember, a regular exercise routine can help you stay you stay healthy and feeling your best throughout pregnancy
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