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Keep fit

If you have a pregnancy without complications, you should be able to enjoy some level of exercise throughout. You would need to select a routine that is suitable, or if you already have one then perhaps there might be a need to modify it. Do consult your doctor on what would be the most appropriate in your situation.

Benefits

Regular exercise tones your muscles and builds your stamina, which in turn prepares you for the physical demand of labour and subsequently, motherhood.  The stronger back muscles also reduce back pain as your tummy grows.
In addition, exercise helps to prevent excessive weight gain during pregnancy, hence you would be able to regain your figure more quickly after childbirth.
Keeping active improves blood circulation which helps reduce constipation, leg cramps and haemorrhoids.  You would also feel great knowing that you are doing something good for you and your baby.

Recommended exercises

  • Pelvic floor exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles that support the uterus, bladder and bowel. They will reduce your risk of urinary incontinence.
  • Swimming.
  • Walking on level ground.
  • Cycling on a stationary bicycle.
  • Prenatal yoga with simple moves, breathing and relaxation techniques.

Warning signs to stop

If you experience any of the following symptoms, stop the exercise immediately and consult your doctor:

  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Heart palpitations
  • Dim or blurry vision
  • Muscle cramps
  • Fluid leaking from the vagina

Exercises to avoid

Avoid any activity that has a risk of trauma or falling such as:

  • Contact sports like judo and basketball
  • Horseback riding
  • Exercises that involve lying on your back, particularly after 16 weeks of pregnancy as they may restrict blood flow to your baby
  • Underwater activities like scuba-diving

Precautions

If you have been inactive, always start gradually and add a few minutes to your exercise routine every week until you reach approximately 30 minutes per day.
Dress comfortably in loose-fitting clothes. Wear shoes with good support and that do not have slippery soles.  Avoid exercising to the point of exhaustion because when you exercise, the blood flow shifts away from your internal organs to give more oxygen to your muscles and lungs. The more strenuous the exercise is, the more the flow shifts, thus reducing oxygen to the baby in the uterus.

Exercise causes your body’s temperature to increase. Do not allow your body to get overheated as this can be harmful to your baby. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Reduce your level of exercise on hot days. Instead, opt for a walk in an air-conditioned mall. Do not exercise when you are not well.

Above all, listen to your body. If you do not feel like exercising on a particular day, then don’t. 

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