pregnancy

As a mom-to-be, you’re focused on doing everything you can to have a healthy baby.

Exercise might’ve once been about losing weight , but practicing pregnancy exercises during your nine months can help keep you and baby to be strong and healthy.

Exercise is good for both you and your little one.

Why should I exercise in pregnancy?

There are lots of good reasons to keep active when you’re pregnant.

Exercise improves your muscle tone, strength and endurance, which may make it easier for you to adapt to the changes that pregnancy brings.

Regular exercise will:

• Help you to carry the weight you gain in pregnancy.
• Prepare you for the physical challenge of labour and birth.
• Improve your mood, and give you energy.
• Help you to sleep better.
• Make getting back into shape after your baby is born easier.

The following types of exercise are safe in pregnancy, though some may not be suitable for the last few months, and you may need to lessen the activity as your pregnancy progresses.

Walking

Brisk walking keeps you fit without jarring your knees and ankles, and gives your heart a workout. It is safe throughout pregnancy, and can be built into your daily routine. Aim to walk for at least 30 minutes a day, five times a week. So walk to the shops rather than drive, take the bus only part of the way, or do a brisk few laps of the park or footpaths in your lunch hour.

Swimming

Swimming is an ideal, and safe, form of exercise in pregnancy. It exercises your arms and legs, and works your heart and lungs. The bigger your bump gets, the more you’ll enjoy feeling weightless in the water.

If you enjoy group activity, you could join an aquanatal class or aqua aerobics class. Exercising while standing in water is gentle on your joints and supports your bump. It can help to ease back pain and swelling in your legs in late pregnancy.

Pilates

Pilates exercises strengthen your tummy and pelvic floor muscles, a part of your body known as the stable core.

Your pilates teacher will guide you on your posture, making you aware of how you hold your body. She’ll take you through a series of positions and movements that will strengthen your core muscles. You’ll learn how to time your breathing with the exercises, and how to relax.

Pilates targets the muscles that can weaken during pregnancy, in a way that supports, rather than strains, them. Choose an antenatal pilates class, if there’s one in your area.

Weight training

If weight training is already part of your exercise routine, there’s no reason to stop now that you’re pregnant. As long as you’re careful, using light weights will tone and strengthen your muscles.

Don’t work so hard so that you overheat, and gradually wind down your regime towards the end of your pregnancy.

Aerobics

Going along to a weekly aerobics class gives you a regular time to exercise. It’s safe, as long as you keep the exercises low impact, to protect your joints. If you sign up for an antenatal class, you can feel reassured that each movement is safe for you and your baby.

Yoga

Pregnancy yoga helps to maintain muscle tone and flexibility and improve your posture. It’s kinder to your joints than more vigorous types of exercise. However, you should also do some aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, a few times a week, to give your heart a workout.

Stretching helps to keep you supple, though don’t overdo it. Think about gently opening and extending your body, rather than pushing yourself. Your yoga teacher will show you how to relax your body and mind.

Make sure that your yoga teacher is experienced in providing advice for pregnant women. It’s best to go along to a pregnancy yoga class, rather than start with a DVD.
The exercises you learn may help you with relaxation and breathing in labour, too.

Dance

Generally speaking, you can carry on with a dance class if you did it regularly before you were pregnant. Or you can get your heart pumping by dancing to your favourite tunes in the comfort and privacy of your own home.

Try not to leap, jump, twirl or change direction suddenly, as you may lose your balance. If you join an antenatal dance class, you can lose yourself in music, while keeping fit under the instruction of a qualified teacher, who can adapt the moves to your stage of pregnancy.

Pelvic floor exercises

Last, but definitely not least, exercise your pelvic floor! If you have weak pelvic floor muscles, you may leak small amounts of wee when you exercise, cough or sneeze (stress incontinence). You can prevent this from happening by doing pelvic floor exercises every day.