In Pakistan we hardly see women taking care of physical fitness and mostly pregnant women just stay home, munch all day and excuse themselves from picking up anything that weighs more than a kilo. If you do not have any medical problems and you are physically active then it is important you start off with a light exercise routine during pregnancy. There is evidence that moderate exercise during pregnancy not only decreases backaches, weariness, risks of high blood sugar or blood pressure and morning sickness but also helps build stamina during labor and delivery.
The First Trimester
It is the most critical period of pregnancy hence it is important that you be cautious. Start off with stretching the muscles of your body time to time and make gentle walking after meals for 15 to 20 minutes a regular practice. You can bend using your knees but try and avoid bending low on your stomach and sitting with your legs spread wide as this may cause pain around the pelvic area. It is also important that you shift your weight to your left or right hand side before getting up from bed and avoid quick movements.
Pilates is a form of exercise that helps on your back muscles, stomach and pelvic floor muscles providing them support and stability. Keep yourself involved in daily chores as far as it doesn’t include holding too much weight that your body is not used to, however shifting weight on wheels does no harm. If you keep yourself moving all day it also helps getting good sleep during nights which is a bit of a problem throughout pregnancy.
The Second Trimester
It is a period when you can take up aerobic activities like swimming and stationary cycling or brisk walking for 30 to 40 minutes. Since most of the mothers in Pakistan do not have access to swimming pools you can also try certain positions of YOGA (CD’s are available at local stores), forward lunges that include keeping a straight posture and slightly bending one knee at a time continued by lowering the body and similar exercises. Any exercise that involves lying on the back should be avoided especially in the second trimester.
The Third Trimester
It is very strenuous for the expectant mother due to the number of pains and aches disturbing your body most of the times. It is important that exercising is done with necessary precautions. Walking daily for 20 to 30 minutes is healthy and exercises that exhaust the body can be harmful. However during the last week of pregnancy it is good to increase walking and house hold chores like mopping and sweeping can be practiced in order to prepare your body for labor. This simple exercise of sitting straight against the wall and with the soles of your feet touching, stretching them away for 10 to 15 seconds and pressing them together helps open your pelvis. Squatting also has the similar effects allowing more room for the baby to move down during labor.
It is essential that you consult your doctor before taking up any form of exercise and once you start keep in mind that you do not over work your body. Also, working out over an empty stomach isn’t right (eat at least 30 minutes before you begin) and drinking plenty of water is necessary. Exercising is not only healthy for pregnant women but also contribute towards returning to the pre-pregnant body shape and fitness which all women want once they deliver!