Pregnant women were once advised to sit at home and rest for the majority of their pregnancy and to avoid exercise to minimize any potential risks. These risks were once associated with adding further to the stress put on the body throughout the duration of the pregnancy.
With new developments in pre-natal and post-natal care, it has been discovered that exercise in moderation and well within the advisable range given to you by your doctor or fitness counselor can be beneficial to both you and your baby. It is important to note that one should not suddenly begin a program of exercise that is far outside your general fitness level, nor should you partake in any ballistic activities (those associated with jumping, running, horse-riding).
Before you embark on beginning an exercise program, it is advised you seek the approval of your doctor to ensure that you are not in a risk group and to advise on the limits of exercise you can pursue. Once you have sought the concession of your practitioner, it is important to stick to the following guidelines:
- Ensure a maximum heart rate of 140bpm (beats per minute)
- Avoid prolonged exercise (prevents overheating, dehydration and lack of oxygen supply to your baby)
- Overstretching (your body increases in flexibility during this time but must not be strained)
- Ballistic movements (especially in the last trimester)
- Lying on your back (especially after the first trimester to prevent poor blood circulation)
Exercise can be a valuable tool to ease some of the changes your body will go through. Most importantly for your baby it can ensure they have a stronger fetal heart rate and more importantly for you it keeps you in shape! You can control your weight gain throughout your pregnancy and problems associated with some nutritional issues such as gestational diabetes.
Exercise in general can help alleviate symptoms of depression and elevate energy levels. This is no different during pregnancy. You will find that although you may have some decrease in energy levels, generally it will be less acute than if you avoided exercise altogether.
Specific exercise programs can be tailor made for you with updated modifications during the course of your pregnancy by a qualified fitness instructor and will guarantee a healthier and happier pregnancy and delivery for both you and your baby.