June 6, 2012

Staying Fit During Pregnancy


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Exercising as a lifestyle is a great way to keep fit and healthy. 

However, for expectant mothers, there are added benefits with regular exercise which will go a long way to ensuring your body is in good shape to carry out your baby to full term.

Important things to know --
  • Over exertion can be detrimental to a pregnant woman's health since blood flow can be diverted from reaching important areas of the body. 
  • Also, an expectant mother's body temperature is naturally raised, so avoiding being over heated is also extremely important.
  • Drinking lots of fluids before and after exercising is a very good idea. A daily fluid consumption app for your smartphone or other device is very helpful.
  • Ensure your diet is well balanced and nutritious. Be careful not to over-eat. "Eating for two" does not mean you should eat twice as much!
  • Immediately take a break once you feel any uneasiness during exercising.
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What is considered "regular" exercise? 
Regular exercise for expectant mother's should be considered at least three times a week. You are welcome to do more, but make sure you are listening to your "gut," literally.  You are your own best judge on what you can and cannot handle because every individual is different and our ratios of heat/exertion levels are experienced differently. 
Benefits of Prenatal Exercise --  
  • Labor and recovery time can be reduced significantly. This is because the appropriate exercises builds up stamina and endurance which is required during delivery.
  • Stress levels are reduced. This improves the expectant mothers mental and emotional well-being, which further smooths the transition between pregnancy and motherhood.
  • Weight management after the birth of the baby is also enhanced. It's normal for expectant mothers to put on weight during pregnancy as the body adjusts to accommodate the unborn child. A good exercise regime during and after birth will help keep the mother's body in good shape.
  • The benefits of maintaining a good exercise regime extends to the unborn child by ensuring it's overall proper development.
  • Certain "side effects" of pregnancy can also be reduced drastically. These include swelling, fatigue and minor headaches. Research has revealed that women who exercise during pregnancy are less likely to experience these "symptoms".
  • The likelihood of premature birth in women who exercise during pregnancy is significantly reduced.
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What are the best exercises during pregnancy?
  • Swimming and walking are two of the best workouts for an expectant mother.
  • Prenatal Pilates
  • Weight lifting using very light weights (one to three pounds) can be extremely beneficial.  But again, you only should do what your body feels comfortable with.
  • Prenatal Yoga (stretching and strength poses - I stay more than an arm's stretch away from anything that seems that it is delving into a "spiritual" direction I have no desire or business heading in.  In addition, and you may not feel this is necessary and that is totally fine, but being a Christian I also pray over every workout regime I partake in and commit it to the Lord and ask Him to dwell in it.)  :)
  • I am also greatly looking forward to Tracy Anderson's soon to be released "Pregnancy Project," filmed during her recent pregnancy, and includes specified workouts for each trimester!!
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    What has my prenatal exercise regime looked like in the past and currently?
    • During my first pregnancy I did no prenatal workouts other than walking, and subsequently finished it in a great deal of pain from previous back and hip injuries.  I found out the hard way that my back during pregnancy requires my staying strengthened and flexible. I didn't know then that there were such wonderful things like prenatal workouts, and grew very weak in my back (even though I still walked regularly, it just wasn't enough). I ended up having to be put on meds during my third trimester. :-0
    • I swam and did prenatal yoga approximately 3 days a week during my third pregnancy, after the premature loss of our second baby, and that helped a lot.
    • But not until I started Lizbeth Garcia's Prenatal Pilates 10 Minute Solutions DVD during my fourth pregnancy did I really feel wonderful in my body while expecting!  I did those videos all the way through that pregnancy.  The movements are so specific, they truly have been the saving grace for my back and hips during pregnancy.
    • During this current pregnancy I wasn't able to do anything during my first trimester due to Hyperemesis Gravidarum and severe fatigue (more than my previous pregnancies).  So I started out slowly once my second trimester began and I was feeling much better, and modifying the instructor's movements when needed.
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      I have learned from experience that the combination of Prenatal Pilates, Prenatal Yoga, swimming, and walking equips me to finish strong throughout my body and flexible in my joints, and not only greatly aids in a smoother labor/delivery, but helps me to more quickly get back into shape postpartum.  :)
      The Weight Battle --
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      It is extremely important to put your focus on staying fit during pregnancy, not the number on the scale.  If you stress about how much weight you "should" be gaining/not gaining (according to a massively obtained average, and not based upon the needs and comfortability of each individual women), then it's not good for you or your baby's well-being.  I recommend hiding the scale at home if you need to. 

      Just focus on eating well and healthy, staying hydrated, and keeping fit.
      Your body and baby will thank you.  :)




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