4 easy exercises that’ll help with labour

You eat and sleep well… Now, keep your bump in tip-top shape for delivery with these effortless exercises!

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Noshing and napping well aside, clocking in some exercise daily will help you meet the physical demands of your pregnancy. After all, you’re eager to ensure that baby and you stay strong and healthy throughout your pregnancy! Besides rocking a banging bod, another great benefit of staying fit is that you’ll fight the signs of aging.

Notes SmartParents consultant ob-gyn Dr Christopher Chong of Gleneagles Hospital, who always advises his patients to exercise throughout their pregnancy, “Unlike your pre-pregnancy stage, the exercises should be [of] the less strenuous [kind] and at the end of it, mothers should feel relaxed not exhausted.”

If your pregnancy is complicated, it’s best to avoid exercising unless you have your doctor’s blessing. Bleeding, a low-lying placenta or uncontrolled high blood pressure are signs that your pregnancy isn’t smooth sailing. To be safe, check with your gynae before you start on a workout routine, so that you don’t risk your unborn foetus’ life.

“Unlike your pre-pregnancy stage, the exercises should be [of] the less strenuous [kind] and at the end of it, mothers should feel relaxed not exhausted.”

Don’t be fixated with the right amount of exercise, either. Dr Chong stresses that different people have different levels of fitness, so go at your own pace. According to the Health Promotion Board(HPB), you should carry on doing your normal daily physical activities like walking as long as you feel comfortable. Whenever you feel giddy or lightheaded, you ARE overexerting. Stop immediately. Vaginal bleeding is a sign that something is amiss, so see your doc, stat!

Otherwise, to boost blood circulation, reduce aches and pains throughout your pregnancy and for better all-round fitness, Dr Chong advises that you try these easy exercises:

1) Kegels

Sounds like the name of some fancy gym equipment, but doing these exercises will strengthen your pelvic-floor muscles. These are the very same muscles that stop you from urinating when you laugh or cough — a very real occurrence during and after pregnancy. They are also responsible for pushing your baby out during labour.

To figure out where your pelvic floor muscles are, try stopping the flow of urine. To allow you to do this, your pelvic- floor muscles contract — a form of Kegel exercise. So, squeeze the same set of muscles for five to 10 seconds and then release slowly. Alternatively, perform short but hard squeezes in series of 10 repetitions. Remember, keep your abdominal muscles relaxed as you do this exercise. You should continue doing these exercises after birth to prevent incontinence.

2) Taking a stroll/Brisk walking

Grab this opportunity to take in the sights of your neighbourhood park. Better still, mark your calendars and make it a regular date with your other half or neighbours. If you aren’t keen on walking because of our warm and humid weather, organise an evening stroll after dinner. You might also consider window shopping in the air-conditioned comfort of a mall.

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3) Stretching

Stretching will keep your muscles loose and flexible, so make it a part of your daily routine to relieve any aches and pains. Since your baby bump is in the way, aim to stretch slowly and gently within comfortable limits — don’t force it. Stop if you feel any discomfort or pain.

4) Swimming

This full-body aerobic exercise strengthens your cardiovascular health, improves your blood circulation and boosts oxygen levels for bubba and you! Working out in the water also takes the weight off your aching knees or strained back.

Since your baby bump is in the way, aim to stretch slowly and gently within comfortable limits — don’t force it.

Take this opportunity to brush up on your breathing techniques! Exhale when you stretch and take deep long breaths as you return to the starting position. Do a full-body routine where possible, Dr Chong advises.

*Shoulder circles In a seated or standing position, rotate your shoulders backward and down, forwards and up in a circular motion. Repeat three to four times.

*Torso rotation Sit on the floor with your legs crossed. Hold your right foot with your left hand. Shift your left hand to the back slowly, stretching your chest in the process. Repeat with the right hand on your left foot. Do 10 repetitions on either side.

*Pelvic tilt Stand straight with back against the wall, feet placed shoulder-length apart for stability. Push the small of your back against the wall, such that your whole back is in contact with it, hold for two to three seconds, then return to starting position. Do four to six repetitions.

Activities to skip

Stay away from rigorous contact sports that may endanger your foetus’ health, the HPB cautions. So, avoid sports that carry the risk of:

*Being hit — wrestling, boxing, judo and kickboxing.

*Falling — horseback riding, cycling outdoors and skating.

*Decompression sickness — scuba diving.

Photos: iStock

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