As your body starts expanding in all directions and pregnancy fatigue takes over, nothing seems less attractive than lacing up your jogging shoes and doing laps around the park. In fact, the only marathon you want to be involved in is binge-watching your favourite programmes on Netflix.
While you deserve to rest as much as you desire (you are growing a person inside you, after all), the best thing you can do for your body, and baby, is to stay active. In his book Exercising Through Your Pregnancy ($31.97, from www.bookdepository.com), author and research professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Vermont College of Medicine, Dr James F Clapp notes that, “In addition to the regular benefits of exercise, pregnant women who exercise are likely to return to their pre-pregnancy shapes sooner, feel increased energy, and fend off stress more readily.”
It is common understanding that working out may minimise common pregnancy-related health issues such as body aches, constipation, insomnia, depression and even lower your risk of gestational diabetes. Plus, studies show that infants whose mums stayed active while pregnant have a lower chance of battling obesity in the long run and tend to adjust to life outside of the womb better.
“Prenatal exercise also helps to strengthen your muscles and build up endurance for labour and birth,” adds Angelyn Seet, childbirth educator, doula and director of ParentLink, an organisation that offers pre- and post-natal support. So, as long as your doctor has given you the green light, here are some safe and easy ways to keep moving as you’re growing.
PRENATAL YOGA OR PILATES This low impact stretch-based exercise will not only give you long and lean muscles, strengthen your core, improve flexibility and support your growing belly, it also teaches you gentle breathing and meditation techniques that will keep you calm when you go into labour. Seet also adds that the pelvic rocking in prenatal yoga can help aid in an easier birth, plus the strong core that you build up makes the pushing part of labour shorter and easier. This is also a great place to meet other pregnant women and foster new relationships.
SWIMMING If your joints have started complaining from the pressure of carrying all the extra weight, give them some relief as you cool down with a dip in the pool. Swimming is a great overall body workout and the water’s buoyancy can also help relieve aches and pains you usually feel when on your feet. Plus, even as you get bigger, you’ll always feel light in the water. To pick up the tempo, join an aqua-aerobics class.
WALKING “Walking is also another safe and enjoyable exercise, especially along the beach hand-in-hand with your husband,” notes Seet. Walking with your spouse is a good way to bond other than keeping fit. Keep walking all the way up to your due date if you can as it tones your muscles, helps burn extra calories, stabilises your blood sugar, strengthens your heart and lungs and keeps you in high spirits. If you want to be on the safe side, avoid hilly areas and take several short walks instead of one long one. And don’t forget to keep yourself hydrated and make sure you have ample opportunities for bathroom breaks.
THE GYM It may sound boring, but the gym offers you a variety of workout options at a single session, so you can switch between machines in case your body is feeling uncomfortable. Power walk or slow run on the treadmill, if you need some back support the stationary bike is your best bet and if your joints are bothering you, the elliptical trainer gives you a low-impact full cardio workout. You can also carry some light weights to keep those muscles in top form.