Even though first time mothers should be taking it easy while they're pregnant, engaging in some low-impact exercises can be incredibly beneficial to your health. However, it's important to find a good balance of relaxation and fitness.
The Mayo Clinic noted that exercising while pregnant can alleviate back pain, help you avoid putting on extra pounds, improve your mood, increase your energy levels and stamina as well as help you sleep better. It can also make your baby healthier once you actually give birth, as it decreases the chances of gestational diabetes.
However, the source did note that all expecting moms should check with their physicians before beginning any exercise program. Though it's safe to say that as long as you are not diagnosed with any complications, a low-impact workout program for about 30 minutes every day can be beneficial. Here are a few to consider.
Swimming is one of the most highly recommended ways to exercise while getting ready for baby. BabyCentre noted that as you get further into your pregnancy, the feeling of weightlessness in the water will be a welcome change. But all first time mothers should remember that holding your breath for too long can be detrimental to the baby's health. It's best to stick to strokes that allow you to breathe regularly, such as breast or back stroke. As with all exercises, it's vital to stay hydrated and stretched out, and for the sake of your own comfort, make sure you have a bathing suit that doesn't restrict your belly too much.
An alternative to swimming is a water aerobics class. You get many of the same benefits, such as the feeling of weightlessness and less stress on your joints than land exercise, with the added benefit of an instructor. It's advisable to find an instructor who specializes in prenatal water aerobics, as he or she will have a lot of valuable experience and you'll have the opportunity to meet other expecting moms.
Walking briskly isn't just great for your body – it's great for your mental health as well. As long as the weather is nice and you choose a scenic route, this workout will be less of a chore and more of a treat. For added exercise, you could consider carrying some light weights on your ankles or arms. However, make sure your shoes fit properly and can accommodate any swelling in your feet. Good support is what makes this a low-impact exercise – ill-fitting shoes will only be more painful on your joints.
Some light strength training may be good for you as you progress in your pregnancy. However, even if you lifted weights before, you shouldn't be lifting as much as you were pre-pregnancy. Baby Center recommended increasing the amount of repetitions you do while decreasing the weight. Some free weights may not be safe for expecting mothers, and, as with all exercise regimens, you should consult your doctor prior to hitting the gym.
One of the most popular exercises for pregnant women is prenatal yoga, and for good reason. Not only does it act as a great workout, but it's meant to be incredibly relaxing and very catered to expecting moms. Baby Center noted that it improves muscle tone, balance and circulation. In addition to all of these advantages, it also focuses heavily on breathing, something that will come in handy in the delivery room. Prenatal yoga is also aimed at helping pregnant women stay calm, which will also be useful when the time finally comes to give birth.