When I saw Irene entering the cafe, I was awe struck! Irene looked just too young and fit to look like baby Rachel’s mother.
She didn’t look like a mom of a 1 year old!
Soon after we settled into a fluent conversation, I finally gave in to asking her the secret to her perfect figure and fit body, which she had managed to maintain despite shouldering the responsibility of a baby.
I was amazed to know that it just was not what I was thinking it to be! It was not a diet plan or any slimming tea, but what she did during her pregnancy that did not let her body go out of shape. It was “Exercise”.
These days, keeping up with fitness during pregnancy is very much needed and is becoming a popular trend too. It is good not for the health of the baby only, but also for that of the mother. Staying active during pregnancy and exercising as required helps you to have a relatively easy and short labor, a speedy recovery after delivery and a fit body post recovery too.
You can also Read my experience as to how I had a healthy and easy pregnancy here.
Growing Healthy with your baby trimester wise
There is a lot that can be done to stay fit during pregnancy. Exercise is one of them. There are different types of exercises and workouts that you can take up during pregnancy to stay fit.
All you need to be careful about is, whether they suit the stage of pregnancy you are in. Make sure you warm up before starting any form of exercise and be careful not to exert yourself at any point. Most importantly, take the advice of your doctor before taking up any exercise.
Looking after yourself and the baby goes hand in glove with exercising during pregnancy. Taking care of the little buddy is surely a task and no amount of carelessness is permissible. Here is a brief on how to sail smoothly through the three trimesters to make your pregnancy a sweet and memorable experience to remember.
When you just get the good news, the little one inside you has already grown as big as a poppy seed (still small though!) and shall continue to grow to be the size of a lime through this trimester.This is the time to make your first prenatal visit to your healthcare provider and start taking your prenatal vitamins (especially folic acid), if you haven’t started already.
You have no option but to embrace the immense fatigue, frequent urination, nausea and morning sickness may set in as happily as you can. Thanks to the important work that your body is doing and the changes your uterus is going through. You need to take in extra 300 calories per day to fulfill the nutritional needs of your baby and yourself.
- Walking, Squatting, & Stretching
- Kegels, Aerobics, and Dancing
- Breathing exercises
Exercises to avoid:
- Skiing, water skiing,
- Mountain climbing, horseback riding
- Soccer, football, basketball, and outdoor workouts (to avoid overheating)
- Tennis and badminton
You will experience, what is called the ‘best trimester ’ once you enter the 14th week of your pregnancy. Your baby continues to grow from the size of a pea pod to that of the fruiting spike of a corn!Your baby bump will start to show from this trimester and by the end of it you will very well be visibly pregnant! You may even start to feel the kicks of the baby somewhere mid way down this trimester and will gradually feel more connected to the little one.
- Jogging, Running, Walking, and Light dancing
- Prenatal Yoga, Kegels, Sitting cycling, and Housework
- Swimming and Squatting (with the help of a chair)
Exercises to avoid:
- High intensity aerobics, Crunches, full press ups, planks
- Exercising in the supine position, Overhead pressing, Forward hinging at the hips, Heavy weight lifting
- Horse riding
Your baby will grow from the size of an average turnip cabbage to that of a small pumpkin by the end of this trimester, that is, by the end of your pregnancy! This trimester will seem long and never ending as the wait to hold your baby in your arms seems unbearable.
As this trimester progresses, pregnancy and sleep discomforts will worsen, unlike your skin and hair which will only get better and better due to the hormones!
You may not be able to feel your baby move much by the end of this trimester, however, be mindful to feel at least one movement in an hour.
- Prenatal Yoga, Breathing exercises, Stretching
- Walking, Swimming
- Kegels, Squatting
Exercises to avoid:
- Horse riding
- Heavy weight lifting
- Exercising in the supine position
- Overhead pressing
- Forward hinging at the hips
What ‘Mum’ needs to know about the exercises
Dancing is a very good and interesting exercise to take up during pregnancy. It is real fun to dance yourself away to a toned and flexible body.
Benefits: Dancing helps you to keep your weight under control, eases and shortens labor and is really helpful in improving stamina which is required before, during and after labor. Dancing for 20 minutes thrice a week, will fetch you the maximum benefit.
Precautions: But always keep in mind that jumping, jerking your body, back bends and deep rotations are a strict no-no for you at any point of pregnancy.
Swimming is another wonderful exercise to be done during pregnancy. The best part is that it takes off all the newly added weight around the baby bump on the mother’s body leaving her feeling weightless and relaxed. It uses both the arms and legs and hence is a complete workout in itself.
Benefits:Swimming is good as it increases blood circulation, tones the muscles, provides strength to the mother, takes off all the strain from the back and helps you sleep better. The water element of swimming cools down the body and prevents you from putting on unnecessary weight. Swimming for half an hour a day will do you maximum good.
Precautions: Don’t forget to keep yourself hydrated while you are swimming, before and after too. Do not swim in water that is 32 degree Celsius or more.
However, if you haven’t been running before pregnancy, then refrain from starting it during pregnancy.
Benefits: Running gives you a total physical and mental boost as pregnancy can tire you out. It gives your heart some good exercise and is quick and effective. Running is very effective in fetching relief from leg cramps and helps the expectant mother sleep better.
It also helps in stabilizing the mood of the mother and most importantly helps gestational diabetes fade away. Run for about 20 mins a day or lesser, depending on your comfort level and pregnancy trimester.
Precautions: If you haven’t been running before pregnancy, then refrain from starting it during pregnancy.
Brisk walking can be easily fit into your daily schedule so it comes very handy.
Benefits: It works up your heart and lungs, increasing blood circulation and rejuvenates you making you feel fresh and better. Brisk walking also strengthens the abdominal muscles and increases endurance of the mother which is much required at the time of delivery. Brisk walking for about 20 mins thrice a week is good to keep fit during pregnancy.
Precautions: Avoid steep and uneven paths. Wear comfortable shoes and keep yourself hydrated. Make sure you are not panting for breath and keep it comfortable all the time.
Prenatal Yoga is one of the most effective forms of exercise that you can take up during pregnancy. Read my detailed post on it here.
Pilates strengthen the core of your body during pregnancy and are equally good. Read more about taking up pregnancy pilates in this post of mine.
Kegels is a very important form of exercise that one should just not miss during pregnancy.
Benefits: It is the most effective when it comes to strengthening the pelvic floor (these are the muscles that get the most used during labor and childbirth) and also prevent urinary and fecal incontinence. Kegels can be done just anytime and anywhere. Doing 3 sets of Kegels a day can do you a lot of good.
Precautions: Always consult an expert prior to doing the kegels because there might be a risk of stressing the wrong muscles which might also cause you a Urinary tract infection.
Deep breathing exercise helps you relax during pregnancy and also increases your awareness about breath control.
Benefits: This can come handy particularly during labor when you would need to control your breath to cope with the pain. Deep breathing facilitates an increased flow of oxygen to the baby. Practicing deep breathing for a few minutes a day can be particularly useful.
Benefits: Stretching your chest muscles will improve your blood circulation and make you feel lighter. Stretching your hip flexors and back muscles will relieve you of back pain and create more space for the baby to come out during childbirth. Stretching your neck and shoulders will help ease the discomfort and relieve you from the stiffness you experience during pregnancy.
Exercising during pregnancy is a sure shot way to stay fit and healthy and so is a balanced and good diet. Also, keeping yourself happy and calm at all times is very good for the health of the baby.
Not much importance is given to the state of mind that needs to be maintained during pregnancy. However, only the lady, who is expecting or has had a baby earlier, can feel and understand the difference.
Keeping fit during pregnancy is as much about thinking fit as it is about working towards being fit. Stay active, eat well, take good rest, and gear up for the pleasant battle to welcome your little one to your world!
You can also know about how I used Yoga to ease my labor in my article Prenatal Yoga – Yoga For Blissful Pregnancy