Exercise During Pregnancy
Regular exercise is as important to a woman’s overall health during pregnancy as it is after pregnancy. A woman who was active before pregnancy can continue to be active during pregnancy, barring certain risks. Women who were previously inactive should speak to their doctor before embarking on any exercise program during pregnancy. A physiotherapist can be invaluable to the general health of an expecting mother and her baby.
During pregnancy, added weight gain puts excess stress on the feet and lower back. The center of gravity shifts forward due to the growing fetus and breasts and the base of support increases. This gives rise to increased lumbar lordosis, a curvature of the back so often seen in pregnant women. The lengthened abdominal muscles cause the calf muscles to work overtime in order to maintain balance while fighting the ever-changing center of gravity. Exercising during pregnancy can help a woman improve her posture and balance.
Some benefits of exercise during pregnancy are:
- Reducing weight gain during pregnancy and facilitating weight loss after pregnancy.
- Decrease pelvic floor weakness which can lead to urinary incontinence.
- Promote better sleep patterns.
- Relieve or prevent low back pain.
- Promote a feeling of well being.
- Strengthen muscles in preparation for delivery.
- May prevent gestational diabetes.
- Increase flexibility.
- Improve posture.
Fitness programs should focus on safety and avoiding falls. Some women experience shortness of breath with minimal exertion due to cardiovascular changes that take place during pregnancy. Women should exercise within their comfort zone and should stop at any sign of pain, dizziness, excessive fatigue, vaginal bleeding or unusual symptoms. Pregnancy is not the time to try to pump up your fitness level. High impact activities such as jumping and contact sports should be avoided. Wearing a brace during exercise provides some support. Swimming, walking, yoga and pilates are all highly recommended, however consult your doctor before beginning any fitness program.
Pregnancy ought to be an exciting for a woman. Benefits gained from participating in physiotherapy can enhance her experience and prepare her for a life of continued fitness. We are among the top clinics for Lower Mainland and Greater Vancouver physiotherapy. Contact us today to talk about how we can assist you in planning a pregnancy exercise program.