As a rule of thumb, the more active you are during pregnancy, the easier you will be able to get back into shape during the postnatal phase. It is a common misconception that exercise is dangerous for your baby but health experts point out that women should get at least 150 minutes of low intensity aerobic activities in a week, the only rule being you should be comfortable and should be able to hold a conversation even as you are moving. In fact, pregnant women who find time for aerobic activities or low intensity workouts on a regular basis reap the benefit of it in many ways. Apart from helping in reducing back pain and easing out constipation and gestational diabetes, regular exercise helps you improve your overall fitness, strengthen your blood vessels and helps you shed down the weight after the baby is born.
Even while exercise can work wonders for you and your baby, make sure you don’t exhaust yourself. Always remember that while you are pregnant, exercise need not be strenuous to be beneficial. Also, make sure that if you weren't used to regular exercise before you got pregnant, don't take up strenuous exercise all of a sudden.
Here are some guidelines to do simple and safe work out while you are pregnant:
1. Drink plenty of water or other fluids before, after and during your workout.
2. Do not exercise in the open when it is very hot or humid. Make sure you are wearing loose-fitting clothes and exercise in a temperature-controlled room.
3. Wear a sports bra to support your breasts. Later, you can use a belly support belt. It will help you reduce discomfort while walking or running.
4. Brisk walking is one of the most recommended exercises by health experts and it will give you a total body work out. If you find brisk walking difficult, you can opt for water exercises.
5. Prenatal yoga, low intensity dancing and Pilates also helps in reducing stress and improving flexibility.
6. While doing exercises, you should strictly avoid poses that require you to lie flat on your back for long time, especially if you have crossed 16 weeks. The weight of your bump presses on the main blood vessel and this can result in fainting.
7. Avoid exercises that have the risk of falling such as horse riding, gymnastics and cycling.
8. Scuba diving is not recommended because the baby does not have protection against decompression sickness and gas embolism.
9. When you are expecting, don't take part in contact sports where there's a risk of being hit, such as kickboxing, judo or squash.
10. Always warm up before exercising and cool down afterwards.
Editor’s note: Always consult your health support team or doctor before starting regular work out plans during pregnancy.