Motivated either by maternal instinct or social convention, the majority of women will at some point in their lives experience the wondrous, yet cumbersome, process of pregnancy. By wanting to avoid injury to the fetus, many expecting mothers decide to stop exercising, or due to pregnancy fatigue, they succumb to a sedentary 9-month-period. In reality, nothing could be more counterproductive.
Medical specialists cannot emphasize enough the importance of staying active during the three trimesters of pregnancy and recommend not only prenatal vitamins but also prenatal workouts for each trimester. We will have a look at easy-to-do pregnancy exercises and ways of incorporating them into everyday life.
Being pregnant is a period of constant change: the body has to adapt to great transformations, both hormonal as well as aesthetic, which many times translates into mood swings or depressive states. One of the ideal ways that mothers-to-be can combat this is through an active and healthy lifestyle. This is typically the moment when confusion and fear about which pregnancy workouts to do creep in.
The apparent concern is about the health of the unborn child which many times hinders the process of exercising due to excessive caution. Common sense and a discussion with your doctor should keep any fears at bay: doing high-intensity workouts that involve the risk of falling or impact are in no way a good choice.
Furthermore, considering that pregnancies go through different stages, the type of prenatal exercises expectant mothers can do will change accordingly to what trimester they are in. This is why we have decided to explore some of the best pregnancy workouts, many of which you can easily do at home or when outdoors.
Despite the many hormonal transformations, the first trimester of the pregnancy does not introduce many physical changes, which is to say that your pregnancy will not be visible. The lifestyle should be a healthy one, with a balanced diet and a moderate life rhythm, staying away from alcohol and other potentially harmful substances.
Regarding the intensity of the exercises, you will be able to perform almost all the activities you did before becoming pregnant. Nevertheless, contact sports should be avoided as well as environments with high temperatures, as this could have adverse effects on the fetus.
Walking: this is one of the most advisable activities for pregnant women as it helps maintain good fitness levels. Light walking for 40 minutes every day helps burn extra calories and keep the muscles active and in top condition for the months to come.
Dancing: aside from being entertaining, dancing turns out to be an ideal form of pregnancy workout as it helps maintain mobility and avoid joint problems. You can do this type of activity at moderate levels of intensity, but try to stay away from choreographies that involve jumping and sudden moves as it could have negative effects.
Morning routines: it's important to maintain a level of physical activity which is why a morning routine of stretches and light yoga could set the tone for a healthy and active pregnancy.
During the second trimester, the hormonal changes are in full swing, and it's the ideal period to exercise as mobility will likely diminish soon.
During the first three to six months of the pregnancy, mothers to be should typically expect a weekly weight gain of 0,5 - 1 kg. Specialists remind expectant mothers that weight gain is an integral part of being pregnant and that exercising should be aimed at maintaining a toned physique and not weight loss.
Pilates: doing Pilates exercises is an ideal type of exercise that one can do during the pregnancy. It helps maintain mobility and ensures that everyday activities can still be performed - walking and doing housework. It's important to stay away from abs exercises, such as sit-ups, or intense cardio.
Swimming: this is one of the best types of pregnancy workouts as it allows you to tone your muscles, do cardio, and improve joint function without the added pressure of weights - when in water, body weight is reduced by approximately 90 percent, thereby providing less overall impact on the body,
Arm exercises using light weights: as a future mother, using your arms to carry your baby will be part of your daily routine. You could try some of the pregnancy exercises from the video below:
The third trimester represents the last stretch of the "baby race." You may feel bloated and big, with little to no energy for working out; however, this is the most critical time of the pregnancy when you do have to exercise. Keeping your body mobile and toned will help immensely with labor. By this point, the weight gain should be close to 10 kg which naturally will hinder the range of movements that you can do.
We recommend light exercises, avoiding impact or contact moves.
Kegel exercises: consist of contracting the pelvic muscles which will help with giving birth. The best way to locate your Kegel muscle is to start urinating and then, midstream, interrupt the flow of urine. The muscles you used to do that are your Kegels.
Hip and back stretch: this type of stretching is recommended to avoid retaining liquids, maintain mobility, and avoid potential lower back pain, typical in the case of pregnant women.
Pregnancy yoga: there probably isn't a better way of preparing the body and the mind for giving birth than practicing daily yoga. Pregnancy yoga teaches us how to connect with our own body and with the baby growing inside. The video below offers some great ideas for exercising in your third trimester of pregnancy: