If you have made up your mind to exercise and have a strong intent to follow it through then this blog is for you.
Experts agree, when you’re expecting, it’s important to keep moving but a word of caution here, pregnancy is a very delicate condition of body. I am just a mother who was lucky enough to have a fit pregnancy and could perform all the exercises with an ease, but this may not be the case with all. Do consult your doctor before taking up any form of exercising be it a simple walk or climb or breathing.
Honestly, I am a big lazy bone when it comes to any physical work out. But during those days I did become a serious exerciser. Its surprising how a child which is not even born yet can make you do things that you never dream of and as parents we continue to surprise ourselves all the time. Its true that I was ready to take up this challenge for the health of my baby and out of the fear of ending up with a complicated delivery, still I wouldn't have achieved it if it was not for the constant nagging by my husband :) Yeah sometimes you need that push as well as a strong support, thankfully my hubby provided both. He made sure I eat well and exercise right and at the same time handled my erratic mood swings! Boom ! he went right into a father's shoes the moment we step upon the good news.
A search on the internet gave me a wide range of exercises that can be performed during pregnancy. I filtered out and chose some of course after consulting my doctor. My gynecologist also introduced me to a physiotherapist who showed some specific stretches and breathing exercises. I strongly believe, all this has helped into a smooth and normal delivery for me. Hence want to share this with other mothers-to-be out there.
1. Pelvic floor exercise - This is the most important routine. The best part I liked about it was I could do it anytime and anywhere as it is nothing but squeezing and releasing your muscles that wrap around the underside of the bladder and rectum. This routine is helpful not just when you are expecting but also post birth it helps to strengthen the pelvic muscles and regain bladder control.
2. Butterfly exercise - An ultimate relaxation for the lower back muscles, pelvic area and inner thighs. Sit on the floor with your back straight and join the feet of both the legs together. Once in this position, move your thighs up and down enacting a bird's wings in flight.
3. Squats - These are similar to sit-ups or pull-ups but you should not jerk yourself up, it should be a slow movement up and down. Also when you go down, hold the sitting position for a few seconds. This strengthens the abdominal and thigh muscles and prepares your body for natural labor. With the commode style toilets everywhere, it has become all the more necessary to adopt this routine. For better support hold on to a furniture or some immovable object, while you go up and down.
4. Breathing - Its all about a patterned or rhythmic breathing which will maximize the amount of oxygen for you and your baby. Though it actually helps during contractions and labor to cope up with the pain, you need to start early to get into the habit. It's like a dress rehearsal you need to do everyday so that you can put up the best performance on the day that matters. There is no one technique. Search the internet and adopt the one which is most comfortable for you and stick to that only one.
Above are some exercises which if done regularly, would highly increase your chance of an "easy" and "normal" delivery.
Below are some exercises which one can choose to do. Though in comparison with the above ones they fall in the second category, they are equally important for you to stay active and healthy.
1. Marjarasan (The cat pose) - This is a basic stretch taught in yoga. During the later months you are almost almost 12-15 kg up your original weight and the entire body weight comes to rest on your lower back. This exercise is an instant ease to your lower back muscle as well as the muscles between the shoulders. Get on your fours i.e. knees and palms touched to the ground. Inhale and as you do so, push your spine out and bend your neck inwards such that your chin touches your collarbone. Be in this position for few seconds and then exhale. As you exhale, pull your spine in and stick your neck out. Your head should be bend backwards. Remain in this position for few seconds, feel the pressure on your back and then repeat.
2. Hand and leg stretches - These are simple stretches. Lying down, you can move your legs up and down. Sitting upright, bend your hands in such a way that they touch the shoulders and then rotate them clockwise and anti-clockwise. You can do a lot of variations with these stretches according to your comfort.
3. Neck exercise - Simply rotate your neck clockwise and anti-clockwise, left and right, up and down.
4. Meditation - Helps to relax your body and pumps in positive thoughts. It can be done as per your comfort. You can chant the "Om" mantra or just lay down and listen to some soothing music.
Additionally walk and climb the stairs as much as you are able to.
Now lets walk through some Do's and Don'ts
1. Primary one being consult your doctor before taking up any form of exercise. Yeah I am reiterating this, but its very very important.
2. Listen to your body cues. If you feel even a slight discomfort, stop then and there and immediately consult your doctor.
3. Hydrate yourself before and after exercise, that means drink lots and lots of water.
4. Avoid heavy exercises like squats, butterfly exercise, stretches etc during the first trimester i.e conception to 12 weeks. During this time, the fetus is in a delicate condition. Also your body would be undergoing a series of changes resulting into nausea and other discomforts. As it is, it would be a roller coaster ride and so it's best to rest. But you can safely resolve to a small walk and meditation.
5. Exercise on a cushioned surface.
6. Never exercise alone.
The earlier you start exercising, the better. But as the seventh month ticks in, it becomes all the more necessary.