Pregnancy and exercise seem like two words that don’t exactly go together. After all, won’t moving around too much — much less exercising — put you at risk of experiencing a miscarriage or other complications? And if so, how are you supposed to get in a prenatal workout?
Contrary to popular belief, working out is important for soon-to-be mamas. This is because there are actually a lot more risk factors when you fall into the trap of a sedentary lifestyle while you’re expecting. According to WebMD, maintaining a regular exercise routine throughout your pregnancy can help you stay healthy and feel your best, improve your posture, and decrease common discomforts such as backaches and fatigue.
Of course, you still need to be careful, but exercising isn’t as dangerous as most pregnant women believe. With the right prenatal workouts, you increase your chances of a healthy pregnancy.
What Is Prenatal Exercising?
Aside from eating right, doing some prenatal exercises can help ease the discomforts that come with pregnancy, keep your energy levels up, and prepare your body for labor, delivery, and recovery after giving birth. Simply put, prenatal workouts are composed of low-impact or moderate-intensity exercises that you can do for as little as 10 to 30 minutes a day, depending on your fitness level.
If you weren’t exercising regularly before getting pregnant, don’t worry because you can still slowly build up to a good prenatal workout routine. If you already have an established workout routine, just keep doing what you’re doing through your first trimester. You may need to tone things down a bit if you don’t feel up to the full workout or if your doctor recommends you take it easy.
Why Is It Important?
The American Pregnancy Association says that prenatal workouts are important in helping you gain the following benefits:
● Reduced back pain, constipation, bloating, and swelling
● Lessens your risk of suffering from preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, or having a C-section
● Promotes better sleep, healthy weight gain, and improves overall fitness
● Puts you in a better position to get rid of the baby weight once you’ve given birth
● Boosts your energy levels and mood
● Fosters muscle tone, strength, and endurance, which will come in handy once you’re going through active labor and recovering from delivery
How To Ensure the Safety of Mom and Baby During a Prenatal Workout
Before starting any kind of exercise, especially a prenatal workout, it’s important to first speak with your healthcare provider and get their OK. This is to make sure that you and your baby will be safe, and you won’t experience any pregnancy complications.
Generally, your OB might advise you to avoid exercising if you have the following health conditions, as stated by the Mayo Clinic:
● Certain kinds of heart and lung disease
● Having multiple pregnancies like twins, triplets, or more since it can lead to preterm labor
● Severe anemia
● Preeclampsia or pregnancy-induced high blood pressure
● Cervical and placenta problems
● Premature rupture of membranes
● Persistent vaginal bleeding during your second or third trimester
Once you’ve gotten the all-clear, here are a few things you should keep in mind as a precautionary measure during your prenatal workouts:
● Hydrate before, during, and after your workout. If you start feeling dizzy, having palpitations, or urinating in small amounts or with a dark yellow color, you’re likely dehydrated and should stop exercising.
● Wear loose clothing to keep your body temperature levels regulated and a supportive sports bra!
6 Safe Prenatal Workouts for New Moms-to-Be
1. Glute Bridges
You might have heard that it’s bad for pregnant women to lie on their backs for long periods of time, so you might be wondering why glute bridges are on this list. What you have to remember is that every pregnancy is unique, and as long as you don’t feel lightheaded, nauseated, a tingling sensation in the legs, or any discomfort, it’s generally fine to do passive exercises like glute bridges.
When lying on your back, bring your heels close to your bottom and your knees upward. Press your heels down while exhaling and raise your bottom into a bridge position. For extra safety after your 28th week, work in an elevated position by performing these against a bench or chair.
2. Bent Over Row
Your back, biceps, and triceps can benefit from a one arm row, which is generally done by grabbing a sturdy chair and placing your left knee on the seat while your right foot remains on the floor. Bend forward and support yourself with your left arm fully extended while holding a weight in your right. Next, bend your left elbow so it forms a 90-degree angle. Hold your elbow in that position, then straighten it out again. Repeat and switch to the other side.
3. Pelvic Floor Exercises
Your pelvic floor gets strained a lot during pregnancy and childbirth. Kegels can strengthen these muscles, leading to easier childbirth, quicker recovery, and reduced instances of bladder leaks and hemorrhoids. Learning how to contract and relax pelvic floor muscles will also help with stress incontinence, which can continue even after pregnancy. This is when you leak urine when you cough, sneeze, or strain.
Squats can help with your pelvic floor and core muscles. Aside from getting your glutes into shape, squats can help prepare your body for labor and postpartum recovery, as well as increase the chances of your baby being in a good delivery position. I recommend using a chair, and squat until you touch the chair then come right back up. This is to make sure you are not going too low.
5. Deep Belly Breaths
This prenatal workout can prepare you for an important part of active labor: breathing. Trust me, there’s going to be a lot of deep breathing during active labor. To practice deep belly breaths, sit with your legs crossed and your hands on your belly. Make sure your back is supported. With your back and shoulders kept still, slowly inhale through your nose as you expand your belly. Exhale through your mouth, drawing in your abdominals and bringing your navel toward your spine.
For moms-to-be, elevated push-ups can help relieve abdominal pressure and let your body cope better with your growing belly. The higher the platform’s height, the easier the push-up will feel. Inhale when you lower your body towards the bench and remember to move your whole body together instead of dropping or lifting your hips first.
Listen to Your Body
All the exercises I’ve recommended above can be good for preparing you for childbirth but always listen to your body. Don’t ignore even the smallest discomforts because this can indicate that something’s wrong. Keep in touch with your healthcare provider and watch out for more expecting mommy blogs like this for a fun, safe, and exciting journey towards motherhood!