Exercise for Pregnancy Health

Throughout the pregnancy year (pre-natal through post-partum) the woman’s body is in physiologic adaptation. Pregnancy is not an excuse to become sedentary, rather a time to “amp up” the exercise program. Exercise increases cardiac output, increases oxygen consumption, and changes the blood-flow distribution.

Doing a good exercise routine will not only assist the body in adapting to pregnancy, but assist in labor preparation. Your body’s muscular / skeletal structure changes in pregnancy. To have the ability, strength, and fortitude for birth a woman should do stretches, walking, squats, and other routines of exercise.

Doing these will also prevent many of the problems of pregnancy. Some of these would include:

• Calf cramping
• Tight back muscles with back fatigue and pain.
• Swelling of the ankles
• Pressure on the bladder
• Finger tingling or numbness
• Discomfort of the upper back due to breast size changes
• Spasms in the groin
• Itching due to stretched skin
• Tightening of the hip flexors (muscle group)
• Pressure and hyper-extended knees
• Sway or hollow back

There are some women who should not be doing exercise, especially rigorous exercise, during pregnancy. Also, each pregnancy should be assessed individually. Consult with your healthcare provider before you start an exercise program. If you had regularly exercised prior to pregnancy it would still be wise to talk to your healthcare provider.

For the childbirth education course, exercises that are included may differ greatly than a full-on prenatal exercise program (unless the instructor is certified in the latter. In a childbirth education coursework, the exercises emphasized are those that would prepare for delivery, reduction of third-quarter pregnancy discomforts, and enhanced post-partum recovery. These are not intended as the sole exercise done by a pregnant woman but as an addition to the physical activity already being done by the pregnant woman.

The first portion would address posture. Good posture is important not only for standing, but also sitting (whether in a car, or at the computer). After posture would be the Pelvic-rock, Squatting, and abdominal Strengthening; along with several stretching exercises for the legs, buttocks and arms.

Recommended recreational exercises would include:

Walking (varying the pace each time), running, cycling, and dancing (especially belly dancing).