Exercise during pregnancy: Dangers and Safety
The benefits of physical activity are many, especially during pregnancy when the body changes noticeably. And it is at this stage that the exercises will act as physical and emotional support, giving the pregnant woman greater well-being. Exercise during pregnancy is great for you and baby!
Acquiring a good posture, recovering energy, not gaining more weight than indicated and resting better, are some of the many benefits that physical activity provides.
During pregnancy, accompanying the evolution of the body with gymnastics is also essential to avoid muscle pain as well as to work the pelvic floor , very favorable activity for pregnancy and postpartum.
For those mothers who want to add exercises to those performed in classes or for those who can not go to a specific classes and want to use their free time for physical activity, there are some exercises that can be done at home (if there is no medical contraindication) during the three trimesters of pregnancy and that are highly recommended and easy to do:
Walking, running, cycling, swimming, dancing, aquagym … all of them at a maximum intensity that allows you to speak
Shoulder press, bench press, knee extension, rowing, hip adduction, elastic band exercises on large muscle groups, etc. Special emphasis should be placed on the paravertebral and lumbar muscles. It is preferable that you work with your own weight , avoiding excessive loads and intense isometric exercises. It is very important that you observe your individual changes throughout the pregnancy to adapt the exercises. Within these strength exercises are Pilates
and Yoga. Strength exercise will strengthen your muscle groups and help you to treat and prevent pain derived from postural change due to your pregnancy .
Flexibility : Stretch neck, lumbar, calves, quadriceps, pectorals and glutes. Yoga is also found within this group of exercises.
Pelvic floor with ball : Alternating the arm and leg raise, squats with the ball between the back and the wall, rotation of the spine (sitting on the ball), Kegel contractions, flexion and extension of the spine (position of the cat) , pelvic twists (sitting on the ball) forward, backward, to the sides and in circles in both directions.
The Case of Yoga
One of the most frequent activities among pregnant women is Yoga. It is a very complete discipline, since it includes both physical exercises and breathing and relaxation . According to a recent review of its effects during pregnancy, its practice has beneficial effects on several aspects of pregnancy and delivery:
> It can reduce pelvic pain , so frequent in pregnancy.
> Improves the mental condition , including depression, anxiety, anger and stress, since the practice of yoga includes both physical exercises and breathing and meditation.
> Improves physical condition , which helps reduce pain and facilitate wellbeing at the time of delivery.
> It improves the conditions of childbirth , minimizing complications and decreasing the time of delivery.
Intensity of the Exercise
The physical activity previously performed by the woman before pregnancy will determine if she can perform more or less intense exercises. In particular, the following guidelines can be recommended:
> Active women : 30 minutes or more; 4-5 days a week
> Sedentary women : 15 minutes; 3 days a week -> increase up to 5 minutes per week up to 30 minutes 4-5 days per week
> Overweight women : The same guidelines apply as in sedentary women, but at low intensity
In no case should 60 minutes of exercise per day be exceeded
Tips to Follow
> First trimester : Always after the first visit to the obstetrician , you can start a physical activity of mild-moderate intensity. Although sometimes hormonal changes prevent it (nausea, vomiting, drowsiness), previously active women can continue their aerobic activities in this quarter, taking into account an appropriate intensity and frequency. Stretching can be done without any contraindication, and strength exercises should be done with supervision, including large muscle groups with little load and more repetitions , and never holding your breath (Valsava maneuver). Also, from this quarter you must start pelvic floor exercises , to continue throughout the pregnancy.
> Second quarter : It is the best period to practice exercise. All the exercises described above are recommended. Of course, you should avoid prolonged exercises on your back from week 16 to avoid supine hypotension syndrome. Aerobic exercises must be performed taking into account the maximum intensity recommended by a professional trainer, according to your physical condition prior to pregnancy. Stretching should be done carefully, as excessive stretching increases your risk of injury.
> Third trimester : At this point you will inevitably decrease your physical activity, due to weight gain and the appearance of limitations due to the baby’s growth. Even so, you should continue the practice of gentle exercises . They are ideal aquatic exercises such as swimming or aquagym , as well as breathing exercises for childbirth preparation. Once the estimated date of delivery approaches, you must be alert to possible symptoms of the start of the same, to interrupt the practice of exercise.
Dangers to Watch Out For
Although it is important to exercise during pregnancy, you should know that there are cases where you can not do it . It is possible that you have some problem that prevents you, or that arises during pregnancy. Therefore you should know that in the presence of any of the following symptoms, you should interrupt the practice of exercise :
-Pain in the abdomen
-Pain or burning when urinating
-Vaginal fluid losses
-Sudden swelling of hands, face or feet
-Persistent nausea or vomiting
-Severe and persistent headache
-Frequent uterine contractions
-Short of breath
-Dizziness or vision of flashing lights
*Always consult your physician before starting an exercise regimen. Everything in moderation, never push yourself too hard.