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Fit & Fab Pregnancy: Prenatal Exercise

Prenatal Exercise

IMG_7285Cover-My-Ass Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. I am not your doctor. You should discuss you prenatal exercise plan with your midwife or OBGYN. And again, I am not your doctor.

Again- just as I said in the Prenatal Nutrition Blog,  I’m NOT saying that ALL pregnancy symptoms are caused by bad diet or lack of exercise. However, what I am saying is that you can decrease many of the common symptoms that women deal with during pregnancy, as well as improve your birth outcomes by following a safe and healthy prenatal nutrition plan and exercise routine.

If I had to choose one form of exercise to do while pregnant, my answer may surprise you…. Yoga. I truly feel it made the most positive impact on my pregnancy. When I began doing prenatal yoga around 13 weeks, the back pain I was having completely disappeared, I slept like a baby and I felt strong and flexible!

According to many published studies and prenatal experts, yoga offers a pregnant women massive benefits and very little to no risk! And if getting to a local class is either overwhelming or doesn’t fit into your schedule, you can find great DVDs that are designed for the special needs of pregnant women.

Of course, if you have been exercising prior to your pregnancy, you can continue with your regular routine (with first getting the permission from your doctor). The biggest key in exercise during pregnancy is to remember to listen to your body, watch your heart rate and possibly consult an exercise professional that is certified for prenatal exercise.

Here are some general guidelines for exercising while pregnant:

  • Per the Mayo Clinic, for most pregnant women, at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise is recommended on most, if not all, days of the week.
  • If you haven’t exercised in a while, talk to your doctor before beginning any exercise program, then begin with 5-10 minutes of exercise and work your way slowly up to the recommended 30 minutes.
  • If you have been exercising prior to pregnancy, talk to your doctor to confirm you may continue, and listen to your body when it tells you to slow down. Trust me, there will be days and times when you need to slow down. Don’t push it.
  • Never exercise to the point of exhaustion or breathlessness.This means you may have to tone down the resistance on your favorite cardio machine or lighten your weights.
  • Don’t forget to take frequent breaks, and drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise.
  • Avoid exercising in hot weather.
  • Be careful when doing compound movements. Your joints are more loose during pregnancy due to the hormone relaxin, and ankle sprains or other injuries may occur more frequently.
  • Weight training is a great way to keep your muscles toned. Strong leg and pelvic muscles especially will assist you in the birthing process, so you definitely want to focus on those!
  • Avoid lifting weights above your head and doing exercises that can strain the lower back muscles.
  • During the second and third trimesters, avoid exercise that involves lying flat on your back as this decreases blood flow to the uterus.

Prenatal Yoga Benefits

Prenatal yoga has been shown to have the following benefits for pregnant women.

  • Reduce Anxiety & Stress
  • Reduce Risk of Low Birth Weight
  • Reduce Risk of Preterm Labor
  • Reduce Pregnancy Induced Hypertension
  • Reduce Joint, Pelvic & Back Pain during Pregnancy
  • Improve Sleep During Pregnancy
  • Reduce Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR)
  • Increase Core & Leg Strength for Labor
  • Increase Flexibility for Labor
  • Learn to Control Breathing for Labor
  • Overall Improvement in Birth Outcomes

I loved using Jennifer Wolfe Prenatal Vinyasa Yoga with Short & Long Forms. What I loved is that this DVD series offers practices from 15-75 minutes in length, modifications for each trimester as well as labor positions that you can train yourself to do.

I used this program throughout my entire pregnancy and love it!

Want more info? Check out the studies on Prenatal Yoga that I referenced Here & Here.

 

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