Staying fit and healthy, especially among expectant mums, is essential. The good news is, you can achieve this even without visiting the gym and seeing a fitness professional or personal trainer. By doing these safe pregnancy exercises at home, you can boost your fitness level, ensure a healthy pregnancy and experience stress-free delivery!
Perks of Doing Safe Pregnancy Exercises
Creating a pregnancy exercise routine is helpful for both you and your baby. Here are some of its essential benefits:
- It lowers the risk of pregnancy complications. Regular exercise among pregnant women helps in preventing gestational diabetes, preeclampsia and premature childbirth. It also boosts your immunity. As you sweat and increase your body temperature during physical activity, you are also avoiding bacteria that cause respiratory infection.
- It keeps you and your baby on a healthy weight level. A fitness routine can make you more adaptable to body changes that happen during pregnancy. Keeping yourself toned and strong helps you carry your extra weight, enhance your body image and makes it easier to get back in shape after giving birth.
- It helps reduce stress. This one is something we can all use nowadays! A regular exercise routine generally makes us feel that we are doing something healthy for our body. For expectant mums, a prenatal workout can help them sleep better, stay energised, avoid body pains and be in a good mood.
- It allows for smoother labour and delivery. Exercise helps build a strong core and improve your endurance to take the physical demands of labour. It also lowers the chances of a caesarean section.
Length and Type of Pregnancy Exercises
Before planning a pregnancy workout routine, the first thing you should do is to consult your doctor, healthcare provider, physical therapist or exercise physiologist. A professional can help assess and design your exercise program based on your fitness level and pre-existing medical conditions. They can advise you what safe pregnancy exercises you can do, level of exercise intensity and how long you can do them.
When given the green light, a 30-minute exercise program every other day would be ideal. Some women find a daily 10-minute pregnancy workout more manageable. Mums-to-be who have no previous exercise experience might prefer to start short and slow then gradually increase it as the days go. Your exercise plan is also likely to change as you reach the last trimester. So, keep moving around, but always stay adaptable.
First Trimester Exercises
To know which exercise is right for you, you can base your routine on your pregnancy stage. Mums undergo physical changes every trimester. It’s easier to match your physical activity depending on your body and how you are feeling. For instance, most women feel nausea and fatigue during the first trimester, and so, a low impact workout is an ideal starting point.
Walking is among the safe pregnancy exercises you can do throughout your entire pregnancy. It’s a versatile cardiovascular workout that you can do even after giving birth. You can do a 15-minute walk in your lounge room area or a 30-minute brisk walk in your garden. Choose to walk rather than take the bus for errands or short trips. Just make sure to wear proper shoes to support your feet and ankles.
Dancing to the beat of your favourite songs makes the activity more exciting rather than a drag. It’s one way to drive stress and negativities away. Choose simple steps that do not involve twirling, leaping, jumping or quick changes in movement. Slow and controlled movements of gentle belly dancing, salsa and samba are best. Let the people at home join in the fun, too!
Swimming is one of the best exercises for pregnant women. It’s an exercise that involves the whole body and promotes muscle strengthening and cardiovascular fitness. You also feel weightless while in the water, allowing you to exercise without the extra strain. So, if you have a pool at home, do a few laps to lessen back pain and swelling.
Second Trimester Exercises
By this time, your body is more accustomed to your pregnant state and comfortable in doing other types of exercises. During the second term, your body shape also changes, with your baby bump starting to show. So, go for safe pregnancy exercises that will not stress your abdomen.
Strength training exercises for the legs are essential as your pregnancy progresses. When you perform squats, stretch your feet apart while standing then extend your arms in front. Next, bend your knees at 90 degrees for 3 to 4 seconds then stand up and repeat. Alternatively, you can squat with your back against the wall for extra support, with light weights or with an exercise ball. These variations should depend on your doctor’s advice and preference.
If you are comfortable riding a bicycle, you might want to switch to a stationary bike when you become pregnant. That way, you can improve your muscle strength without the risk of falling. Also, indoor cycling doesn’t require you to keep your body balanced, so there’s less impact on your joints. Make sure to adjust the saddle position, keep yourself hydrated and aim for a moderate-intensity exercise.
Pregnancy yoga can enhance your emotional well-being and drive stress away. It improves your muscle tone and posture at the same time, too. Compared with other safe pregnancy exercises, yoga is more joint-friendly and relaxing. If you’ve been doing yoga before, make sure to avoid poses that might put you or your growing baby in danger. Consider consulting your instructor before proceeding. And if you’re a first-timer, start with breathing exercises before gradually doing simple yoga positions.
Third Trimester Exercises
During the last trimester, focus on exercises that train your breathing, thighs and butt muscles. Skip high-impact exercises or contact sports. Your body behaviour is more erratic at this time, so make sure to heed your body’s warning signs.
Aerobic exercises while in the pool take the pressure off your back or legs and prevent overheating. Test your abilities first with some fun Zumba moves. Then switch to moderate exercises like aqua jogging, back floating or scissor leg stretching when ready.
If you’re experiencing lower back pain during your third trimester, relieve it with the gentle cat-cow yoga pose. Start this exercise with your hands and knees on the floor mat. Bow your head down to face the floor then slowly raise it, arching your back like a cat. Return to the starting position and do the same exercise up to eight times with proper breathing.
Pelvic floor exercises
Lastly, pelvic floor or Kegel exercises are core components of your fitness program during and after pregnancy. These involve relaxing and squeezing your muscles in the pelvic and genital areas. Doing these safe pregnancy exercises improve bladder control, avoid faecal incontinence and prevent your uterus from sagging. You can do Kegel exercises by rapidly contracting (inward and up) and releasing your pelvic muscles for 10 to 50 times. As you progress, switch quick contractions into slow holds, where you hold the contraction for about five counts before releasing. Try to do this for about 15 times.
Keep the good vibes going all throughout your 9-month journey with these additional self-care tips for mums!