Exercise During Pregnancy

Every individual is different, it’s best to discuss which exercises are safe for your with your practitioner. There are many benefits to exercise during pregnancy. Some benefits include:

• Improved mood
• Stress relief
• Lowers risk of depression during and after pregnancy
• Controls weight gain
• Results in better sleep
• Relieves constipation and water retention
• Improves strength for labor

Safe exercises generally include:

• Swimming
• Golf (through second trimester)
• Tennis (through second trimester)
• Yoga
• Low-impact aerobics
• Walking
• Light weight lifting (2-8 lbs)

If you haven’t been exercising prior to pregnancy it is best to begin slowly and start with moderate exercise. Wear comfortable clothing, a sports bra and shoes that provide good support. If you experience vaginal bleeding, pain, cramps, dizziness or headaches stop immediately.

Remember to drink plenty of water before and after exercise. Avoid low blood sugar levels by limiting your exercise session to 45 minutes or less. Spend at least 8 -10 minutes warming up your muscles before exercising. Utilize a cool down period of 5 minutes after completing your workout.. Avoid deep-bending positions and rigorous stretching.

After 16 weeks do not hold exercise positions on your back longer than 3 minutes. If you experience nausea, dizziness, or lightheadedness choose alternative workout activities. The weight from your uterus can press on the vena cava (a large blood vessel in your abdomen) and decrease your blood pressure.

Avoid activities where you could fall or lose your balance. Your center of gravity is constantly changing throughout your pregnancy. These include but are not limited to:

• Bike rider (after the first trimester)
• Skiing
• Horseback riding
• Gymnastics
• Water-skiing
• Ice-skating
• Roller blading

Other sports such as volleyball, softball, basketball, and soccer are considered potentially dangerous in the last trimester and should be avoided.

Exercises that are beneficial for birth and the postpartum period.

Your muscles are working overtime to keep up with your growing uterus. Your lower back, abdomen and pelvic floor muscles are under greater pressure during pregnancy. These same muscles must also relax and stretch during birth. Try these exercises to potentially relieve pain and improve muscle tone:

• Tailor Stretch helps stretch your inner thigh muscles.
Sit on the floor, soles of feet together and gently relax your knees toward the floor until you feel a comfortable stretch. Don’t force your legs down with your hands. Simply relax and breathe, slowly counting to 5. Repeat 5-10 times, twice daily.

• Kegel Exercises help prevent incontinence by strengthening your pelvic floor muscles.
These exercises can be done anytime whether you are sitting or standing. Firmly tighten the muscles around your vagina like you would to stop the flow of urine. Breathe and hold for about 8-10 seconds. Slowly release the muscles and repeat 10-15 times. Practice 3-4 times daily.

• Pelvic Tilt helps alleviate back pain and improves abdominal muscle tone.
Pelvic tilts are also effective during labor.

Weight Gain During Pregnancy

The amount of weight you should gain throughout your pregnancy varies depending contingent upon your pre-pregnancy weight and your body mass index (BMI). Women who gain excessive weight during pregnancy increase their risk of having a premature delivery or larger than average baby. Too much weight gain may also leads to health problems including diabetes and high blood pressure. The recommended amount of weight gain throughout pregnancy is about 25-35 pounds. The general guidelines are as follows:

• During the first trimester (first 3 months) you should gain about 1 – 5 lbs.
• During the second and third trimesters (last 6 months) you should gain approximately 1 lb. per week.
• If you are overweight, you may only need to gain 15-25 lbs.
• If you are underweight, you may need to gain more weight.
• If you are having twins your practitioner may recommend a nutritionist or dietician to help advise you on your ideal weight gain.

How to avoid gaining too much weight

• Reduce dietary fats including butter, margarine, oil, gravy, mayonnaise, salad dressing, sour cream and sauces. Try substituting non-fat Greek yogurt, low-fat, unsalted cottage cheese, low-fat or non-fat milk or evaporated skim milk.
• Choose lean meats like chicken or turkey (without the skin) and fish.
• Avoid or limit fried foods.
• Keep healthy snacks readily available. Snack on raw veggies, fresh fruit or popcorn (without butter) instead of chips and candy.
• Substitute fresh fruit like berries with non-fat yogurt for dessert instead of ice cream or cake.
• Replace juice or soda with water. Drink 8-10 eight oz. glasses of water a day. Staying hydrated will help you feel full.
• Walk every day unless your health care provider says otherwise.
• Read food labels carefully so you can make educated choices about what you consume.

Dieting And Pregnancy

Healthy weight gain is vital to your baby’s growth and development. A balanced diet will help provide you are your baby the nutrients needed for a healthy pregnancy. Don’t skip meals. This can cause low blood sugar. For optimal growth, your baby needs nutrition at regular intervals. If your preconception BMI is greater than 35, your practitioner may advise you to work closely with a nutritionist to help manage your diet. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and good eating habits during pregnancy will make postpartum weight loss easier. Do not hesitate to talk to your practitioner if you have concerns about your weight gain or dietary recommendations.