You're going to gain weight during pregnancy, it's inevitable, but you can exercise to help keep you in shape, make labor easier and avoid packing on too many pounds.
According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise during pregnancy can help to ease or even prevent back pain as well as other discomforts you're bound to experience, boost your mood and energy levels, help you sleep better, increase your stamina and muscle strength and prevent excess weight gain. In addition to these benefits, if you choose to exercise throughout your pregnancy, you may also be able to reduce your risk of developing gestational diabetes and pregnancy-related high blood pressure while also lessening the symptoms of developing postpartum depression, a condition that affects some moms after delivery.
Keep in mind that before you begin exercising, you should talk to your health care provider. Your OB/GYN, midwife or whomever is caring for you while you're pregnant will want you to stay away from exercise if you have some forms of heart and lung disease, cervical problems, risk factors for preterm labor or pregnancy-related high blood pressure.
If you haven't exercised in a while, then you may want to consider starting with just five minutes of physical activity per day. You can then build up to 10 minutes, 15 minutes and so on until you get to 30 minutes of physical activity each day.
Someone who exercised before they became pregnant will likely be able to continue doing so throughout their pregnancy. But like we said, make sure you talk with your health care provider beforehand.
The best kinds of exercises during pregnancy
If you want to improve your cardiovascular health while you're pregnant, try walking, swimming, low-impact aerobics and dancing. Walking is one of the best cardio exercises for pregnant women and does just enough to keep you fit without putting too much pressure on your knees and ankles.
You may find that your health care provider prefers you go swimming if you're going to exercise. Swimming is a great form of physical activity whether you're pregnant or not, so you may even want to consider doing it after you deliver to help you lose those baby pounds.
For a more fun form of exercise, dance. Whether it's out with your friends or in your living room with your partner, dancing will get your heart pumping – in a good way.
Low-impact aerobics for soon-to-be-moms can help strengthen your heart while also toning your body. There are plenty of classes available for pregnant women, so you may even be able to make a few mom friends.
Flexibility and strength
There are a number of things you can do to improve your flexibility and strength during pregnancy, which can help make labor and delivery easier in the nine short months before your little bundle of joy makes his or her big splash into the world.
You may want to consider doing yoga, weight training and stretching. Yoga will help you maintain muscle tone and flexibility without being too hard on your joints. Stretching is also a good way to keep your body limber.
You'll want to reduce the amount of weight that you're lifting so you don't put too much stress on the baby, but weight training is a good way to build strength. You should also make sure to take necessary precautions and use good technique.
Do you plan on exercising during your pregnancy? Join in the conversation below!