We should notice that there is no ideal way that suits everyone in the matter of physical activity in pregnancy. However, we will try to keep up with our opinion based on science. Please note, that you should primarily consult your pregnancy specialist for the appropriate recommendations.
Aerobic Exercises During Pregnancy
Everybody knows that exercises are good for your health, but what about exercising during pregnancy?
Scientists conducting research and gathering more and more data, try to find out that you can continue to train under certain conditions.
Absolute contraindications for exercising include the following risk factors:
- hemodynamic heart disease,
- restrictive lung disease,
- cervical inconsistency,
- constant bleeding during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy,
- multiple pregnancies with the risk of preterm birth,
- placenta previa after 26 weeks’ gestation,
- preterm birth,
- late toxicosis.
- severe anemia,
- chronic bronchitis,
- arrhythmia of unknown nature,
- extreme obesity,
- extreme underweight,
- orthopedic limitations,
- uncontrolled type 1 diabetes,
- sedentary lifestyle before pregnancy,
- intrauterine growth retardation,
- poorly controlled hypertension,
There are also cases when the training should be immediately stopped:
- vaginal bleeding,
- chest pain,
- calf swelling,
- shortness of breath,
- muscle weakness,
- pain, or calf swelling (you must exclude the possibility of thrombophlebitis),
- premature birth, and others.
With the permission of the doctor and the absence of restrictions, a pregnant woman may begin her exercises but the coach has to constantly monitor the state of the woman.
The Positive Effects of Aerobic Exercise During Pregnancy
Regular exercises help the prospective mother to maintain good health, improve the health of the cardiovascular system, to accumulate less fat when gaining weight, and experience less pain associated with pregnancy.
Also, a good physical shape makes childbirth easier. Numerous studies show that trainees often give birth in time and the postpartum recovery goes faster. Some positive effects for the child were noticed: kids have better cardiac activity, they tend to be slimmer, participate in more sports events, and are generally good at learning new skills (compared to children of parents who are not engaged in sports activities).
The Dosage and Intensity of Aerobic Exercises During Pregnancy
The American Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (ACOG) and the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommend activity of moderate or vigorous aerobic intensity for 30 minutes, at least three times a week.
However, you should be careful and exercise for 45-74 minutes per week in the first trimester.
Some studies have shown that frequent exercise (more than 5 per week) and rare (less than 2 per week) have little to the opposite effect, so it is better to focus on 3-4 times a week.
For those who have not done sports before pregnancy, it is recommended to start with 3 workouts 5 minutes each, moderate-intensity up to 12 out of 20 according to the scale of perceived effort (it should be possible to talk during the exercise). If there are no negative sensations, try to add 5 minutes every week and get the duration of exercises to 30 minutes and add another workout day if you wish. Each session should be preceded by a warm-up and ended by a hitch (mild stretching, slow walking).
It is desirable to avoid certain kinds of sports, including ice hockey, ball games, gymnastics, equestrian sports, martial arts, and other potentially dangerous sports. It is better to move the training from outside the room, for example, change a highway cycling to an exercise bike. Indeed, experienced athletes can do more but beginners should prefer comfortable and pleasant exercises: swimming, walking, aerobic fitness equipment (ladder, elliptical, rowing, etc.); although some simulators, such as Crossrobics, should be avoided: they may disrupt the blood flow by squeezing the inferior vena cava.
Clothing for training should not be too confining and garter. It is necessary to use special support for pregnant women instead of sports bras; moreover, you can use a pregnant belly band. Water consumption is also essential during training. Ideally, any training during pregnancy should bring only pleasure, not discomfort.
Power Load During Pregnancy
These load during pregnancy are also very important, as it supports muscle strength, reduces pain, and help with the process of childbirth. Before the beginning, you should also get your doctor’s approval, pass questionnaires and find out your contraindications and limitations.
The Main Limitations of Power Load During Pregnancy
There are 4 major risk factors for training during pregnancy:
- First of all, the possibility of obtaining an abdominal injury in time of using barbells or dumbbells. Even experienced athletes need to be extremely careful to avoid the risk of completely drop the bomb on them or hurt the stomach.
- A second complication is the restriction of breathing during exercise. This may lead to the increased pressure of the cardiovascular system and the probability to harm the fetus, so you should avoid strenuous exercises that require holding your breath.
- Third, due to hypermobility of the joints during pregnancy, high intensity and power (explosive) load should be eliminated. Operating load should be selected more carefully, and the movements should be performed slowly under control, to avoid potential damage.
- In order to maintain normal venous inflow after the 13th week, it is desirable to avoid the exercises performed on your back. Such exercises can be modified to an incline bench (head up) or sitting.
Positive Effects of Power Load During Pregnancy
Strength training together with a sensible diet helps to decrease excess weight, maintain strength, flexibility, and well-being, reducing the unpleasant symptoms.
Three recent studies have shown that exercise with a not high load does not affect childbirth, whereas the combination of strength and aerobic exercise reduces the possibility of cesarean sections. Sensible strength training, as well as aerobic, does not harm but even improve the health of both mother and child.
The Dosage and Intensity of Power Loads
Power loads are better to perform 2-3 times a week and each session must include four components.
- Warm up for 5-10 minutes, for example, slow walking.
- The main part of the exercises with resistance, the duration is 20-45 minutes. The number of exercises from 4 to 12, the load on the main muscle groups: quadriceps, hamstrings, back muscles, deltoids, pectorals, triceps, biceps, calf. If the number of sets is 1-3, most studies recommend the average rate of 10-15 repetitions (13 out of 20 according to the Borg scale of perceived exertion).
- Some experts include the exercises for abs as a third component. The abdomen is very important for pregnant women, so these exercises must be under control. They can be performed on an incline bench, lying on a side, sitting or standing. This part of the set should take up to 20 minutes. It is recommended to do 1-2 sets of 8-12 repetitions. Movements should be smooth and controlled, with normal breathing without delays.
- And the final component is a hitch, for example, slow walking and stretching. The hitch lasts at least 5-10 minutes until the mother’s heart rate returns to normal (as a pre-workout).
As in the case of aerobic training, loose and supportive clothing should be used. Also, enough water before, during, and after the workout is to be consumed. It is advisable to perform exercises under the supervision of a professional coach.
Born in Belarus, 1985, a pedagogue and family psychologist, mother. Taking part in procedures of social adaptation of the foster children in new families. Since 2015 is a chief editor of the motherhow.com project, selecting the best and up-to-date material for those, who are planning, expecting, and already having babies.