Exercise in Pregnancy
Exercise is the repetitive use of muscle groups in the body. There are two types of exercise : isotonic (sudden straining of short duration) and isometric (repetitive movements with minimum strain).
The latter is preferred for pregnant women. Exercise during pregnancy offer several advantages:
- Exercise enhances self-image in any individual. Self-image can be a major problem in pregnant women because of the changing body shape and weight gain.
- Exercise certainly assists in weight control.
- The common problem of constipation in pregnancy is reduced by exercise.
- Women opting for vaginal delivery (natural birth) have a great advantage if they are physically fit.
Guidelines for exercising during pregnancy:
- Exercising in a well ventilated area, preferably in the early morning or evening. This will prevent overheating, as baby has no temperature control of its own in utero.
- Take adequate fluids to replace losses through sweat. As a general guideline 1 liter of fluid needs to be taken for every hour of exercise. Many well-balanced physiological solutions are available commercially.
- Do not lie flat on your back. The enlarged uterus compresses the large blood vessels and this impairs blood flow to the uterus. Insert a 30º sponge wedge under the right buttock when doing exercises in the supine position.
- If any vaginal bleeding or vaginal draining of fluid occur, exercise should be discontinued and your doctor consulted.
- A hormone (Relaxin) is produced in pregnancy, which softens the ligaments in the body. This results in large joints and the spine being more prone to injury. So isometric exercises are preferable.
- Warming up and cooling down exercises are essential.
- As the tummy becomes larger, the center of gravity of the body shifts. This is an ongoing process and thus your balance is sub-optimal. Avoid balancing and
- Consult with your physiotherapist or antenatal educator for exercises that are safe in pregnancy