Although exercise is often said to be safe during pregnancy, with so much information available, it can be difficult to determine how much exercise you should be doing – and if there are certain exercises to do. to avoid.
Exercise is good for the mother and her baby, but considering all the changes that occur in the body during pregnancy, it is advisable to relax a little while exercising.
One of these changes concerns the functioning of our cardiovascular system. Because the baby needs a constant supply of oxygen to develop – and because of how quickly it grows – the mother will experience a 45-50% increase in blood volume to transport this essential oxygen to the baby.
The mother’s heart rate also increases to ensure the baby is getting enough oxygen. This could put extra strain on a woman’s heart and lungs during any sort of activity.
The respiratory system is also affected. The amount of oxygen a mother can inhale increases of around 40-50% to give the baby the oxygen it needs. This change also occurs because the growing baby affects lung function by reducing the space in which the mother’s lungs can expand. These changes can see the mother experience more shortness of breath, which will even make everyday tasks more demanding.
The body is the joints also relax – partly because of the mother change in center of mass, and because the pelvis tilted. The way the body nourishes itself also changes. When we eat food, the body stores these by-products (usually glucose or carbohydrates) in our liver and muscles so that our body can draw on these energy stores when needed (such as when we work out). ‘exercise). During pregnancy, there are less glucose available draw energy. It is because the baby needs this energy to develop. Therefore, the mother may feel more tired more quickly when performing any type of task, including exercise.
But all of these changes don’t mean you shouldn’t exercise while pregnant.
Studies show that do aerobic exercise (such as walking, jogging, or swimming) during pregnancy for at least 150 minutes per week may improve physical fitness, increase muscle tone and strength and reduce weight gain. Exercise can also reduce the risk of experience back painwhich is a common problem for many pregnant women.
There is also limited evidence that following an exercise plan during pregnancy may help some women. experience a shorter labor – and decrease the likelihood of needing a caesarean section. The reason why this link may exist is currently unclear.
Exercise is not only safe for the mother, but also for the baby. Although exercise can directly affect the baby (such as increased heart rate when the mother exercises), researchers have shown that exercise causes no symptoms or signs of stress to the baby. Exercising regularly during pregnancy can also reduce the likelihood that the baby to be overweight adulthood.
But although exercise is safe for mother and baby, some activities should be avoided. Quite obviously, combat sports or those which may present an increased risk of falling (such as horse riding or mountain biking) are to be avoided.
If you enjoy lifting weights, it’s still considered a safe and effective form of exercise to do during pregnancy. But it may be best to lift with a friend or personal trainer and avoid excessive loads, as they increase the risk of muscle and joint injury.
You should also avoid exercising in warm temperatures (particularly those above 32◦C) due to the additional stress it may place on you and your baby’s heart. Another thing to consider carefully is any form of exercise that requires the mother to lie flat on her stomach or on her back, such as during yoga or pilates. The reason is that there is a increased risk of hypotension (rapid drop in blood pressure) which may increase the risk of fainting when standing.
So, while you may need to relax a bit if you want to exercise during pregnancy (particularly in the second and third trimesters), that doesn’t mean you need to exercise less than before. Generally, it is recommended that people get at least 150 minutes of cardiovascular exercise per week. The same goes for pregnant women, although you may need to reduce the intensity of your exercises.
And if you do decide to exercise while pregnant, it’s important to make sure you eat and drink enough since exercise requires more energy. The more demanding the exercise, the more calories you will need to consume afterwards.