Physiologically, pregnancy is the
most stressful period of a woman's life. A fitness program performed before,
during, and post-pregnancy aids the body in adjusting to the various growth
and recovery stages.
Large fitness gains are not an appropriate
goal during pregnancy. Rather, the goal should be to maintain the highest
level of fitness consistent with a woman's pre-pregnancy physical conditioning.
Maximum safety for the mother and child takes priority over weight-loss
or strength goals. Exercise during pregnancy helps control weight gain
but should not be used as a means to prevent weight gain.
Realistic expectations are important
your pregnancy can benefit both you and your baby
It helps you by -
Increasing your aerobic capacity (helpful
for the endurance demands of labor and delivery), improving circulation
and digestion, increasing energy, and ensures more restful sleep.
Leads to improved muscle strength and
endurance, which may aid in delivery and recovery. Stretching exercises
improve range of motion and flexibility
Reduces tension, anxiety, and fatigue,
an enhanced feeling of well-being, and improved self-image.
Get Your Doctor's
Approval Before You Start
All pregnant women beginning an exercise
program should seek medical clearance from a physician. In addition, as
the pregnancy progresses, the physician may be consulted regarding any
necessary exercise restrictions.
Prenatal danger signs that indicate
immediate cessation of exercise and referral to a physician's care:
Pain of any kind - chest, head, back,
Uterine contractions at 20-minute intervals
Vaginal bleeding, leaking of amniotic
Shortness of breath
Persistent nausea and vomiting
Generalized edema (swelling of joints)
Decreased fetal activity
During cardiovascular exercise, exercise
at a low to moderate intensity (55 to 70 percent of maximum heart rate).
Avoid exercise in the supine position
(lying on the back) after the fourth month of pregnancy.
Avoid exercises involving the holding
one's breath during exertion), which can increase intra-abdominal pressure.
Sustained vigorous activity (20 to 30
minutes) increases body core temperature sooner. Pay attention to heat
factors and avoid vigorous exercise in hot, humid weather.
Hydration before, during, and after
exercise affects core body temperature. Drink plenty of water despite concern
about urinary frequency.
Regular exercise, about three times
a week, is preferable to intermittent exertions. These workouts can consist
of any low-impact activity, including walking, swimming, and stationary
Ballistic (bouncy or jerky) movements
should be avoided.
It is recommended that participants
exercise three to four times per week.
Pregnancy is a time to maintain fitness,
not strive for dramatic improvements. As body weight increases, workload
will normally decrease.
Always take time to warm up for eight
to 12 minutes and to cool down later. Try to strengthen the muscles that
become overstretched due to pregnancy - the abdominal, pelvic floor and
upper back muscles, as well as the muscles that become shortened - the
lower back and the chest. Good stretches to try are kegels and pelvic tilt.
During pregnancy, hormonal changes in the body make muscles, joints, and
connective tissue more susceptible to strain and injury.
All participants should wear lightweight,
nonrestrictive clothing. Some participant may be more comfortable in loose
pants and T-shirts than in tights and leotards. All comfortable, breathable
attire is acceptable as long as a support bra and proper shoes with arch
support are worn.
Do not use hot tubs, steam rooms, saunas,
or spas during pregnancy.
Yoga During Pregnancy
Yoga coordinates movement, breath
and awareness. It addresses health and well being on several levels: physical,
emotional, psychological and spiritual. Because of its many benefits and
the pleasure derived from its practice, the time-honored art of yoga is
becoming increasingly accepted everywhere as part of self-care during pregnancy
and preparation for childbirth and motherhood. For pregnancy, the traditional
positions (postures) are modified for the safety and comfort of the pregnant
woman and her baby. These graceful and simple movements can be practiced
Each posture has specific benefits.
The Cat pose, for example, increases flexibility of the spine and back,
particularly the lower back, often a problem area during pregnancy. Heroine
pose is often recommended for nausea and indigestion.
Yoga can help strengthen supporting
muscles and release tension along the spine and rib cage and in the upper
chest, neck and shoulders, opening the body into proper alignment. As posture
improves, the diaphragm can move more easily, allowing fuller respiration.
Deep breathing relieves fatigue and
is important for the health of mother and fetus.
The well-being and equilibrium of the
pregnant women will have a significant impact on her baby. As a pregnant
woman prepares for childbirth and motherhood, she is already creating an
environment for her developing child. Yoga helps her calms her emotions
and also quiets her mind. The attention is turned inward, connecting with
her center and her strength as well as her ability to surrender and yield.
Yoga is an excellent preparation for
labor and delivery. Labor progresses more easily if a woman can work with,
rather than against, contractions. Yoga teaches this. The pregnant woman
learns to become aware of each part of the body and to release tension
and constriction using the breath. During labor, she can use this technique
to help relax the uterus. Often, a student learns to visualize an image
during meditation or relaxation-for instance, to see the breath as a gentle
wave. She can rely on this image to help her stay relaxed and focused during
For specific Yoga exercises contact
any certified yoga instructor.
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- The Indiaparenting Team