There is no doubt that sport is very useful for women. Due to regular physical activity, the health condition improves, the body acquires the desired shape, the working capacity increases. But during pregnancy, the situation changes dramatically. Very often a pregnant woman does not know what to do: either immediately give up working out while pregnant or keep on training in the same rhythm. Therefore, the future mother should understand what sports are acceptable during pregnancy and which ones should be abandoned.
As a rule, at this time the woman does not yet know that she is pregnant. But if you have even the slightest suspicion that you are pregnant, you need to reduce physical activity. The very beginning of pregnancy is a difficult stage. During this time all organs and systems of the fetus are formed. Any physical overloads will not be beneficial to the baby. Hard training, long marathon distances (like sprint races), downhill skiing is prohibited to a future mother. Now you need to learn to understand your strength and dose the sport’s load in the light of your new condition.
Since this time you need to exclude any kinds of exercises which strongly load muscles of a stomach. Squats, sit-ups, side bends are dangerous because they can provoke a miscarriage. Try to avoid the so-called inverted poses: in the exercises like “bicycle” and “candlestick core exercise”, handstand, in many yoga asanas. You shouldn’t do any exercises in which you need to pull your knees to the chest.
Exercises in the swimming pool (swimming, aqua aerobics) are very useful for future mothers. Women can visit the swimming pool (if there are no contraindications) from any term of pregnancy and almost until childbirth.
After the 12th week, women who are fond of figure-skating and roller-skates will have to give up these sports. The reason for the refusal is not in the specific physical load (it is actually useful), but in the fact that this sport is fraught with falls and collisions which are very dangerous for the future mother. Running is also not the best option at this time. Although, if your doctor allows, running exercise with reduced load can be resumed in the second trimester of pregnancy. But until then it’s better to replace running with walking.
Tennis is a sport that can be practiced until the 4th-5th month of pregnancy. But keep in mind: working out while pregnant is possible only if there are no contraindications. Before going in for any sport, consult your doctor and reduce the usual for you physical load.
During working out while pregnant, be sure to drink enough water. Sports overheat our body and make it lose a lot of fluid. Do not work out immediately after a meal or, on the contrary, if you are hungry. The best time for sports is 1.5-2 hours after breakfast.
Training clothes and especially shoes are very important for working out while pregnant. Shoes should not slip. In some types of exercises, for example, aerobics, shoes should reliably fix the ankle and foot. Yoga is best done barefoot, and not in socks – again, in order not to fall. Choose a breathable and hygroscopic clothing set.
A future mother together with the doctor should choose the optimal workload and regularity of workouts. It is believed that 3-4 times a week is the best schedule for working out while pregnant. Still, 3-4 times is not enough for some pregnant women, and they train every day. In general, this is not bad. Just keep in mind that working out while pregnant should bring you only good feelings and mood, not shortness of breath and a sense of fatigue. For beginners, the duration of a workout should not be more than half an hour (10 minutes for warm-up, intensive work, and relaxation). Advanced athletes can increase the duration of the complex of physical exercises to an hour.
How to understand that the physical load is too complicated for you? If after the workout you feel unbearably sleepy, then you are overtired. Signs of fatigue are excessive sweating, pain, and tension in any of the muscles, and especially in the muscles of the abdomen and back as well as rapid (more than 100 beats per minute) pulse within 5 minutes after the end of the workout.
At this time, many future mothers start going to the swimming pool. After all, the belly is already growing significantly, the back begins to ache from overexertion. Swimming perfectly relaxes and simultaneously trains all muscle groups. What’s more, in the water, what is heavy seems to be weightless because the weight decreases 6 times. Water also reduces the strain on the joints and spine. However, much more effort is required to perform the exercises: water resistance is 12 times stronger than air resistance.
“Water procedures” perfectly strengthen muscles, promote flexibility, and restore restful sleep. Swimming can be practiced until the very birth. But the choice of the pool should be approached responsibly. Ask how often the water is purified there, in what way (harmful chlorine or ozonation). Find out whether you need a medical certificate for visiting the poll (it’s good, if yes), whether there are many people in the pool (it’s good, if not).
During pregnancy, long walks in the park, in the forest, and in the fresh air, in general, are very useful. Walk for at least 1 hour, as the blood begins to absorb oxygen intensively only 30-40 minutes after the start of the walk.
If you practiced belly dance before pregnancy, then in the second and third trimesters of the pregnancy you will have to exclude any movements that cause a sensation of shaking. Movements should be smooth and cautious.
In the complex of exercises in the gym, including those that will strengthen the muscles that actively participate in labor: muscles of the perineum, abdominal cavity, and pelvic floor. This includes Kegel exercises, for example. They are developing intimate muscles. In any way, the beginning of working out while pregnant should be as careful as possible and only after mandatory preliminary consultation with the doctor. Keep in mind, if there is the slightest threat to pregnancy, it is better not to take risks.
The closer the childbirth is, the more restrictions there are. You’ll have to forget jumps, jogging, legs swinging. And from this time and on, you also cannot do “hands-up” exercises because they contribute to the appearance of a tone in the muscles of the abs. Do not practice exercises for balance. Because of the grown abdomen, your center of gravity slightly shifts, and it is quite difficult to keep the balance.
In the last trimester of pregnancy, you need to reduce the intensity of exercise. You can return to intensive gymnastics 6 weeks after the birth, but for now, replace it with long walks.
At the end of the 8th month of pregnancy, doctors advise stopping workouts with elements of step- and aqua aerobics. In general, the future mother shouldn’t be too active. But it’s time to take up the development of flexibility and relaxation exercises. After all, before giving birth in the body of a woman, many hormones weakening ligaments are released. A woman becomes very flexible. And this effect can be used to prepare for childbirth. For example, even at this time, it is useful to get acquainted with the basics of yoga. In this practice, there are a lot of exercises for flexibility, and almost every one of them is taught to relax. Choose simple postures that improve blood circulation in the pelvic region, neck, and shoulder girdle. Breathe smoothly and deeply. And even without any meditation, you will immediately feel how the accumulated tension leaves your body.
Usually, at this time the future mother is concerned not so much with sports achievements, as with the forthcoming birth. You’re not inclined to any physical activity in general: the uterus is greatly increased, the load on the heart, the spine, and the arch of the foot increases, there are changes in the lungs, and the pregnant woman is haunted by the shortness of breath. Therefore, breathing exercises and exercises which improve blood circulation in all organs and systems will be very useful. They will ease the condition of the mother and will prevent hypoxia in the baby. Most often, the exercises are carried out sitting – the initial standing position can be used no more than in one of every five exercises.
Contraindications To Working Out While Pregnant
There are a number of disorders and pathological conditions of the body in which any sport is prohibited, except for an easy warm-up.
- Miscarriages and missed abortions from an ectopic pregnancy in the anamnesis, especially not related to genetics.
- Cervical incompetence. It is the inability of the cervix to retain the fetus inside the uterus itself.
- Multiple pregnancy. By itself, not being a pathological condition, it is seriously tiring the body.
- Complications at any trimester (the threat of abortion, tone, spotting, late gestational toxicosis, problems with veins, exacerbation of any chronic illness);
- Anemia of any type.
- Pregnancy, resulting from IVF. Typically, this procedure is for women with serious violations in the reproductive sphere (her or her husband). Therapy is accompanied by a large number of drugs and an increased risk of abortion (especially in the first trimester).
- Direct prohibition of a gynecologist who is monitoring the pregnancy.
Is Working Out While Pregnant Useful?
The unequivocal answer is – yes, working out while pregnant is very useful. Look at the problems that can be avoided or minimized by sports activities:
- early toxicosis;
- the likelihood of late gestosis;
- hemorrhoids in the prenatal and postnatal period;
- varicosity and deep vein thrombosis;
- fetoplacental insufficiency caused by oxygen deficiency;
- fetal hypoxia during childbirth;
- ruptures of the perineum during childbirth;
What Sport Activities Are Compatible With Pregnancy?
The main rule is the following: physical load must correspond to the physical fitness of the pregnant woman and not conflict with possible contraindications.
Working Out While Pregnant: The Best Types Of Physical Activities
- Swimming. It practically has no contraindications. But they still exist: stitches or pessary on the cervix and problems with the kidneys). Swimming unloads the spine and venous system, improves blood circulation and gives a good load on all the muscles of the body.
- Walking at a moderate pace. It is useful from the first days of pregnancy. It improves the venous outflow from the legs and arms, prevents the development of hemorrhoids and trains the heart.
- Yoga. With a good coach and with the exclusion of so-called “inverted” asanas, yoga for pregnant women has no contraindications.
- Gymnastics for pregnant women. The name speaks for itself.
What Exercises Should Be Excluded From Working Out While Pregnant?
- Intensive cardio exercises such as cycling;
- Exercises for the abs;
- Exercises requiring intense twisting movements in the waist region;
- Rhythmic movements (equestrian sport, step aerobics);
- Active stretching. During pregnancy, muscles soften under the action of hormones. As a result, you can get a serious dislocation;
- Exercise, due to which the body can overheat. This is very dangerous for the fetus;
- Sports with the increased possibility of getting injuries.
Before working out while pregnant, you should always consult a doctor. Of course, if there is a threat of a miscarriage or premature birth, any physical activities will be prohibited. But under such conditions as hypertension, arrhythmia, endocrine disorders, the doctor can allow the exercise under the strict control of the condition of the body and the well-being of the woman.
Working out while pregnant requires the obligatory consultation with the doctor who leads your pregnancy and is aware of all the nuances. The question is not only about your health but also about your baby’s health. Therefore, you can’t rely only on your intuition and feelings (“If I feel good, this means I can keep on working out”). The risk doesn’t worth your baby’s health.
Do not forget that working out while pregnant should bring you both physical and moral pleasure. Only in this case, it will be useful. You should have a feeling of comfort, a sound sleep, and a very positive mood. Only then your choice will be correct.
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.