For some women, falling pregnant provides them with the perfect opportunity to sit around, eating cakes, chocolate and chips and doing not very much else at all! After many years of weight watching and exercising religiously, the arrival of a little bump is enough of a reason to step away from the scales and slob out for nine months.
If the above describes your attitude to pregnancy, then not even the best gyms in Philadelphia will be able to help you! However, research has shown that regular gentle exercise during pregnancy can help you stay in shape and prepare for the labour and delivery ahead. In addition, exercising while you’re expecting can help to:
Ease or prevent back pain
Boost mood and energy levels
Help you sleep better
Prevent excess weight gain
Increase muscles and stamina – essential for labour and delivery
Reduce the likelihood of gestational diabetes
Lessen the symptoms of postpartum depression
So whilst exercise may be the last thing on your mind when you find out you’re expecting, partaking in some gentle activity will provide you and your baby with some important benefits. But before you go and slip into some spandex, read the following advice to make sure you and your precious bump stays safe:
Little and often
For the huge majority of pregnant women, 30 minutes of moderate daily exercise is recommended. Walking is fantastic as it provides a gentle aerobic workout but with minimal stress on your joints.
Swimming is also ideal as it’s very low impact. In fact, the water partially supporting a heavy bump can feel incredible, especially during the later stages of pregnancy when simply moving out of your sofa becomes a workout in itself.
Never exercised before
If you’ve never really exercised before, then pregnancy is the ideal time to start, rather than an excuse not to. As long as you’ve been given the go-ahead by your midwife or obstetrician you can start doing some gentle exercise, gradually working up to 30 minutes a day.
Women who haven’t exercised before tend to wait until the start of the second trimester before starting their new regime. This is when the worst of the morning sickness and fatigue will have faded and energy levels will start to rise again.
Are there any reasons I shouldn’t exercise?
Regardless of how much exercise you did before falling pregnant, advice should always be sought from the medical professional caring for you before continuing with your usual regime. It’s a good idea to be extra careful if you have had problems during previous pregnancies (miscarriage or a premature baby) or have health problems yourself such as anaemia or high blood pressure.
Expecting more than one baby can also make exercise more hazardous, so be extra vigilant and speak to a doctor or midwife first.
Are there any activities I should avoid?
Any sport that could throw you off balance should be avoided wherever possible; your growing bump will alter your centre of gravity, making your feel a little more wobbly and clumsy than usual anyway. This includes horse riding, skiing, gymnastics and skating.
You should also steer clear of any activity that puts your bump at risk. Contact sports such as rugby or football are obvious examples, but tennis and squash could also be dangerous for your growing belly.
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