Exercises in pregnancy: which to prefer and which to avoid?
Whether you are in the first, second or third trimester of pregnancy, it will always be a good idea to dedicate yourself to a session of light physical activity on a daily basis. But what exercises are allowed and recommended during the 9 months before giving birth? Swimming, yoga, walking are just examples. Read on to find out all the others. But first, here's a video with the things not to do in pregnancy.
Exercises in pregnancy: what are the benefits?
Having an active life in pregnancy is synonymous with well-being for both mother and baby. Exercising promotes muscle toning, improves circulation and breathing and consequently also the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the baby; in addition, the exercises during pregnancy also serve to prevent the onset of diseases such as gestational diabetes. But let's see everything in detail: here are the benefits of sports during pregnancy.
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1. Keeps your body weight under control
Weight gain in pregnancy is physiological, but exercising helps keep extra pounds at bay. Usually, a healthy woman gains about 10 or 12 kg during gestation, but when you get too out of it. this range there could also be serious dangers to the fetus
2. Counteracts gestational diabetes
It is a form of diabetes that affects pregnant women and usually disappears within a few weeks of giving birth. Physical activity helps to reduce the risk because during the sport increases the release of insulin and the consumption of glucose, so the blood sugar normalizes.
3. Improve circulation by eliminating swelling
Training promotes peripheral microcirculation by eliminating the "famous" swollen ankles that all pregnant women complain about. The right exercises, especially in the third trimester, can be very helpful in this regard.
4. Boost a good mood
During sports, the body releases endorphins, the hormones responsible for good mood. That's why after a good session of pilates or swimming, or after a walk in the open air, we feel better immediately. This applies to pregnant women, but in reality it is advice for everyone!
5. Prevents back pain
Exercising during pregnancy helps to strengthen the back muscles, helping to prevent the annoying back pain that occurs especially in the third trimester, when the fetus is very developed and the belly grows more and more.
Exercises during pregnancy to do in the first trimester
The first trimester of pregnancy is the most dense of changes: the future mother's body is preparing to welcome the fetus, and even if the belly is not yet visible, hormonal changes and the first morning sickness begin. With regard to sport, at this stage it is necessary to pay particular attention to: choose a "physical activity to do in well ventilated and not excessively hot environments; wear a type of clothing that is absolutely breathable, and finally, consider taking the right amount of fluids.
- Green light for walks and hikes: half an hour a day is the ideal place to start, especially if you have always been sedentary. Try some small breathing exercises (inhaling and exhaling the air) that will be useful later in preparing for the birth.
- Yoga, dance, pilates - these types of sports are perfect at every stage of gestation, they promote relaxation and are perfect because they do not cause joint trauma.
- Swimming and water aerobics - water activities are ideal because they lighten the load on the spinal column of the future mother, moreover, the contact with water is relaxing and helps heat dispersion avoiding us to heat up.
- Home Exercises - Take advantage of your free time at home to do some exercises that are perfect for pregnancy. Leaning your hands against the back of a chair, do slow squats for about 5 minutes. Or you can also sit on the floor with a mat and extend your right arm and head to the left and vice versa, to stretch your arm muscles.
Second trimester of pregnancy: here are the recommended exercises
In the second trimester of pregnancy, the belly begins to be very visible and the woman also begins to gain weight. The advice is to avoid exercises in the prone or supine position, preferring the lateral ones. The same sports mentioned for the first trimester of pregnancy continue to be allowed: swimming, aqua aerobics, yoga and pilates, as well as healthy walks in the fresh air. Here are 3 yoga poses that are useful for a pregnant woman:
- Tiger Pose - Get on all fours with your arms as wide apart as your knees. Bring the pelvis upward while inhaling and curving the back. Now exhale and lower the pelvis;
- half lotus position - sitting on the ground with your legs crossed and your back against the wall. You can stay in this position for up to 10 or 15 minutes, closing your eyes and trying to clear your mind.
- tree position - performed standing, trying to place one of the two soles of the feet on the inside of the opposite leg. Once you have found the balance, you can try to raise your arms upwards while maintaining the position.
Stretching and meditation: exercises useful in the third trimester of pregnancy
Arriving in the third and last trimester of pregnancy, the future mother will have to deal with the belly that has become very big. At this stage, priority must be given to relaxation and meditation exercises, but walks and gentle gymnastics in the water are also recommended. A useful tool to obtain in the last months of pregnancy is the fitball, an inflatable ball that brings numerous benefits to the pregnant woman. Here are a few.
- Increases the flexibility of the joints
- Muscles are strengthened
- Coordination improves
- Relaxation is promoted
- You become aware of the perineum / pelvic floor
Exercises during pregnancy to do with the fitball.
- Sitting on the ball, move your pelvis first to the right and then to the left ten times. Repeat by changing the movement back and forth.
- Stand astride the fitball and squeeze the ball with your inner thigh muscles, then release and repeat.
- With your knees on the ground, extend your arms over the fitball and roll it up to your hands arching your back.
Kegel exercises for the pelvic floor
In the last month of pregnancy it will be important to train to manage the muscles during labor and delivery. The most famous and simple exercises that can be done to train the pelvic floor are the Kegel exercises. These are simple exercises of repeated contraction and relaxation of the muscles of the pelvic area.
They can be done in all positions, contracting the muscles for 5 seconds and letting them rest for the next 10 seconds. If you are not an expert and cannot perform these exercises, you will first need to be aware of how the pelvic floor works, but all of this is the subject of study in the birth preparation courses that we invite you to follow.
Exercise in pregnancy: how many times a week should it be done?
- Try to engage in physical exercise during pregnancy at least 3 times a week, alternating between days regularly.
- Start with low intensity sports and adjust accordingly also following the advice of the gynecologist.
- 30 minutes of well-performed exercises are enough to get the first results.
- Always stretch both before and after your workout.
- According to the type of physical activity, adjust your diet and caloric intake.
Sports to avoid during pregnancy
If you are pregnant you must avoid all extreme sports or sports that can cause trauma to the fetus. We are talking, for example, of parachuting, mountaineering, skating, water skiing, diving, cycling, running, football, basketball, weights and in general all contact sports or sports that involve great physical effort.
In general, remember that physical activity is the best way to have useful benefits for a peaceful pregnancy. In any case, we recommend that you ask your doctor for advice, who will assess your health condition before giving you the okay for any type of sport.