August 2, 2007
The weight gain that comes during pregnancy can often be used as an excuse to become a couch potato. But that is one of the worst things an expectant mother can do. Dr. Mom tells you why.
Recent studies have shown that exercise during pregnancy can provide numerous benefits well past the time of childbirth. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend exercising at least 3 times a week for 30 minutes.
Benefits of exercise during pregnancy include:
- Helps build bones and muscles
- Gives energy
- Lifts spirits and reduces stress
- Boosts energy level
- Better sleep
- Reduces pregnancy discomfort
- Prepares your body for childbirth
- Helps get your body back in shape after childbirth
Top recommended exercises
The American Pregnancy Association lists the top recommended exercises as:
- Swimming. Swimming helps tone the body without adding weight and stress to your joints. Swimming can also raise your heart rate without getting overheated.
- Walking. Start slowly and be sure to stretch before beginning. Wear good shoes and take water with you.
- Yoga. Yoga helps relieve stress and pressure in your body. Classes are available specifically for expectant mothers.
- Low impact aerobics designed for expectant mothers.
- Dancing. This can be done at home or at special classes for expectant mothers. Be sure to avoid leaping, spinning, or jumping.
- Kegel exercises. Kegel exercises are pelvic floor exercises that may help prevent a long period of pushing during labor. These may also help with incontinence after childbirth.
Activities to avoid are snow skiing, water skiing, horseback riding, scuba diving, and contact sports. Running and jogging may be continued only if you were a runner before becoming pregnant, AND at the discretion of your physician.
If you experience any of the following symptoms, STOP exercising and call your doctor:
- Vaginal bleeding or leaking of fluids
- Difficult, labored, or uncomfortable bleeding
- Heart palpitations or chest pain
- Headache, nausea, vomiting
- Dizziness or fainting
- Swilling or pain in ankles or calves
- Decreased fetal movement
- Blurred vision
As with any exercise program, always consult your physician or obstetrician before starting an exercise program.
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