Not long ago, women would be advised to take rest during pregnancy. This meant an automatic goodbye to an active lifestyle and exercise. But this advice is neither practical nor helpful unless you have a medical condition that prevents you from exercising. In fact, prenatal exercise has been linked with a happier and healthier pregnancy and a smoother delivery. Being pregnant does not mean that your body no longer needs exercise. Similarly, having a newborn at home does not imply that you should stop exercising. Exercise is for everybody and it has ample benefits. From maintaining healthy metabolism to stress relief, there’s something for everybody!
Benefits of prenatal exercise:
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Irrespective of whether or not you had an exercise routine before you conceived, now is a good time to start exercising. Lack of sufficient exercise during pregnancy may increase your chances of excessive weight gain, high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, backache, etc.
Studies have shown that exercise during pregnancy not only has long-lasting benefits for the mother but also for the baby. Maintaining a healthy weight during pregnancy through adequate exercise has a positive impact on the baby’s health as well as weight at birth.
An active pregnancy can make labor and childbirth easier for you. It also helps with preventing or at least significantly reducing the chances of back pain and hip pain. It also helps with less pelvic pain and reduces the frequency of urinary incontinence. Women who exercise also report better sleep patterns at night.
Benefits of postnatal exercise:
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Once you bring your newborn home, it might seem that you have no time to spare for exercise. But once you come to appreciate the benefits of exercising post-delivery, you will want to take time to keep active.
Of course, exercising will help you lose pregnancy weight. It will also help boost your metabolism so that you shed the weight organically. Being active will help you have better energy levels to deal with the responsibilities of being a new mother.
Many women suffer from post-natal depression (PND). One of the good ways to combat PND is to have an exercise routine. It not just helps your body but also rejuvenates your mind. Good activity levels will keep your body toned and fit. It will prepare you better to tackle the challenges of motherhood as the baby grows.
What kind of exercises should you go for?
When we say ‘exercise’, it need not be a high-intensity workout at the gym. Something as simple as a walk in the park (after circuit breaker measures) or a yoga session at home can also be beneficial. You could also try Pilates and light floor exercises. A low-impact aerobics routine or playing a sport can be a fun way to integrate exercise into your routine.
During pregnancy, it is important to go for exercises that do not put pressure on your pelvic floor and abdomen. Also, avoid exercises that require you to lie on your back for long durations. After you have given birth, don’t directly move on to exercises such as running, skipping, or kickboxing since it may lead to lasting muscle damage and pain. Instead, go for low-impact activities.
Care to be taken during exercise:
Ladies, pregnancy and the days of new motherhood is a precious phase of life. Cherish these moments with your loved ones. But at the same time, don’t ignore your health requirements. An active lifestyle will keep you fit and healthy and your body will thank you later for it!
We have invited Ms. Anabel Chew, co-founder of Asia's leading barre studio, WeBarre, to demonstrate some simple sequences for prenatal and postnatal exercises. She is in her third trimester and wearing Dorset Active Nursing Bra.