Exercising Whilst Pregnant – Good or Bad?

Many traditional South Asian women would perhaps not agree with exercising whilst pregnant due to fears of harming the baby. This view is now changing.

low impact exercise throughout your pregnancy can actually make your child healthier

So here’s the question; should pregnant women keep up with an active workout whilst carrying? Most people would generally feel no and claim exercising whilst pregnant women should not take place, with fears that it may harm the woman or her baby.

Pregnant women are not debilitated, but they are often viewed that way. Especially within the South Asian culture, if you’re pregnant, you’re not allowed to do a lot of things and advised to constantly rest because being active could pose a serious risk to the baby or yourself. This is something the elders tend insist on and usually this kind of safeguarding is passed on through generations. However, times have changed and women are realising that the old ways are perhaps not the most healthiest.

The truth is that it’s okay to keep active and exercise. It’s just up to you personally whether you want to or not, and it’s important you follow a few guidelines if you decide to do so.

Earlier in 2012, wife of a fitness instructor Jenny Wright received verbal abuse from strangers for jogging whilst she was pregnant. She was called selfish, followed by one woman seeing it as “Putting your own vanity before your unborn baby.”

Of course, everybody may look twice at seeing a pregnant woman jogging or at the gym, but there’s nothing wrong with it; so long as you don’t exceed your limits. If you wish to exercise then do so! There is nothing proven to say you shouldn’t or that it’s a huge risk to take a steady jog, you may have to ignore comments from people and give it a go if you feel is comfortable!

In India, there are many traditions that come along with pregnancy. Traditions and ceremonies such as Punjabi Godhbarai, Bengali Swad, Goan Baby Shower and Gujarati Godh Bharna are exciting, and highly food related. With your pregnancy, and your exercise, you should be keeping up with a healthy diet, but this doesn’t mean to say you can’t proceed with the celebrations! Continue with your family traditions, your exercise and your diet, there is nothing to say you’re going to make yourself or your child unhealthy or ill, if anything, you’re helping yourselves out!

There’s always a risk of miscarriage, but it’s not likely if you follow guidelines, don’t over-do it, and consult your GP before trying anything. It’s been proven that pregnant women need to excersise just as much, perhaps more than women who are not carrying! By doing a low impact exercise throughout your pregnancy can actually make your child healthier, but also help in gaining back your shape after birth.

You need to take into consideration your primary fitness level and of course the physiological changes going on in your body.

So it’s down to you if you wish to exercise or not. If you do, then here is an ideal fitness regime for pregnant women:

Abdominal Exercises
Exercising the abdominals throughout pregnancy helps improve some of the back stress and maintain the elastic character of the muscle to better support the pelvis, pelvic organs and the growing baby. After the fourth month of pregnancy, traditional sit-ups should be avoided. You have to modify sit-ups by simply changing to a side-lying or C-curve position. Pelvic tilting for the purpose of abdominal strengthening can be done seated or standing.

Lower Body Exercises
Lower body strengthening can be done standing with squats, plies, lunges and leg lifts to the front, side or behind the body. You can use a table or chair back as this provides extra support.

Upper Body Exercises
Strengthening the upper back, chest and shoulders is particularly vital for posture, balance and preparing the would-be mother for lifting and carrying her baby. The best position to make the upper body strong is standing position. In standing position, use a wall to do push-ups.

Aerobic Exercises
A 15 to 20 minute schedule of low-impact aerobics is ideal for pregnant women. The pace should be slow. Exercises may have simple dance without a lot of abrupt changes in direction. You can go for modifications but limit exhausting exercise to 15 minutes. Bring the heart rate down slowly but surely in the last five minutes.

A common, yet easy way to exercise is walking. In a walking program during pregnancy, start out slowly and go up to an intensity that you are able to talk easily. A good way to begin would be to walk for 15 minutes and see how you feel.

Yoga is another great option for expecting mothers. These kinds of exercise programs not only help keep muscles strong, but also allow women to clear their minds and distress. Maternity can be a very emotional and bewildering time. The meditation and relaxation qualities of yoga allow the women to feel better and less stressed.

If you feel up to it you can include bands and light weights as part of your exercise regime too. It mainly depends on how you feel and how much you are able to do.

Sure, exercising whilst pregnant is in fact a good idea, however you still must take into consideration yourself and what you can manage. A few precautions you should make before hand should be getting your doctor’s consent before going for an exercise program and stopping if ANY unusual sign(s) appear. If they do, contact your doctor.

To stay safe, you should drink fluids before, during and after exercise to stay hydrated. Make sure to do gentle warm-ups before going into your exercise and avoid activities with a lot of rapid, recurring jumping or grating movements. Keep your heart rate below 150bpm and avoid exersises in the supine position (back-lying) after your fourth month. Listen to your body signals, do not force the any exercise if your body feels tired.

A good way to keep yourself steady is to make sure that you can easily have a conversation with somebody during, so you’re definitely not out of breath, and you’re not pushing yourself harder than you should. Remember – you’re pregnant, not invincible!

It’s all about balance and your diet is as important as exercising whilst pregnant.

Consultant obstetrician Patrick O’Brian says that focus should be on staying healthy by eating healthily, regular exercise and keeping your weight under control without calorie-restricting.

By following these precautions and steps, you can start or continue with your exercise without worrying about damaging yourself or your unborn child. Keep fit, stay well, and enjoy your pregnancy!

Rachel is a creative and focused person who has a vested interest in unique beauty and fashion with an eye for art. She loves finding out more about the world through her writing. Her motto is 'You cannot open a book without learning something."

Please check with your GP or Health supervisor before commencing any kind of exercise whilst you are pregnant to ensure it is safe for you and your baby.

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