For good health, it is essential to keep active even during pregnancy. Regular exercise helps reduce the risk of developing diabetes, obesity, heart disease, or cancer. It may reduce depression symptoms and improve quality of your life.
In recognition of the importance of a healthy lifestyle, the Israel Medical Association’s Medical Journal published a list of suggestions for expectant mothers on how to stay fit.
Lower back pain can be decreased by strengthening the muscles
The authors point out that pregnancy can cause many changes to the woman’s body. These include increased blood volume and heart rate as well as an increase in heart output. These changes create a reserve of the cardiovascular and heart systems that support the mother and the fetus both during rest and exercise.
When lying down on your back, the blood flow from the heart to your heart begins to decrease around the 20th week. This is caused by pressure from the uterus onto the inferior Vena Cava, which carries blood into the heart. Also, as lung capacity decreases, so does the ability to do aerobic exercise. The availability of oxygen for strenuous aerobic activity also drops.
Pregnant mothers should increase fluid intake, wear lightweight clothes, and avoid activities that are hot or humid, especially during the first trimester. Although exposure to heat from a sauna or Jacuzzi has been shown to cause neural tube defects in developing foetuses, it is still recommended and necessary to do physical activity.
For example, strengthening the abdominal and back muscles can reduce back pain risk. About 60% of women who experience lower back pain in pregnancy are affected by changes in their weight distribution.
Increased hormone levels can cause relaxation of the ligaments of the skeletal or muscular system. This results in a change of range of motion and the risk of injury to joints. It is therefore recommended that you start your physical training with warm up and then end it with relaxation.
Pregnancy activity can also have an impact on the developing fetus. The fetal heart rate responds by increasing between 10-30 beats/minute above the baseline either during or after activity. There is no danger to the fetus.
The pelvic floor should be strengthened
According to new recommendations it is recommended that pregnant women engage physically in any activity unless their gynecologist has given permission.
Aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week spread over at minimum three days. If possible, the entire week.
Even short-term physical activity has been proven to be beneficial. It is difficult to find enough information regarding prolonged, high-intensity activity.
Pregnant women should be active, regardless of whether they have never done so before.
It is best to gradually increase the intensity of activity for overweight women with a BMI greater than 25.
The authors also address weightlifting activity: Because of limited research, there are not many recommendations for the intensity and quantity.
Medical literature indicates that aerobic activity combined with strength training can have great health benefits even during pregnancy, unless it is prohibited by the obstetrician.
Yoga and gentle stretching are also recommended for pregnant women. They also recommend strengthening the pelvic floor muscles to prevent any urinary tract disorders.
It also discusses pregnancy complications that prevent you from engaging in physical activity. This includes placental abruption and edema as well as changes in the anatomy of uterus, triplets, intrauterine growth slowing, and other chronic conditions that are not balanced.
These conditions include dizziness, shortness of breath and chest pain.
After birth activity
You can resume physical activity after childbirth, depending on your type of birth and any complications. But, you can start exercises for the pelvic floor immediately.
Breastfeeding mothers’ physical activity does not impact the quantity or composition of breastmilk or the growth of their baby. Researchers recommend that you ensure adequate water intake.
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