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Exercise in Pregnancy

19th Mar 2013

A woman who exercises before and during pregnancy will have strengthened muscles and find it easier to support her extra weight. She will also cope better in labour. Kensington Midwives recommend their clients to keep up with regular daily exercise and not to suddenly take up a strenuous exercise, especially in hot weather. Gentle exercising, such as walking, yoga or swimming are excellent. Water will support increased weight and some local swimming pools provide aquanatal classes with qualified instructors.

There are antenatal exercises specifically for the pelvic floor which help to prevent later problems such as incontinence when laughing or sneezing. These are vital and should become a daily habit as they help to strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor, which come under great strain in pregnancy and childbirth. The pelvic floor consists of layers of muscles that stretch like a supportive hammock from the pubic bone to the end of the backbone.

Strong abdominal muscles will help to support the spine and prevent back ache. Keep up your normal daily physical activity or exercise for as long as you feel comfortable. Exercise in pregnancy is not dangerous for your baby, and there is evidence to show that active women are less likely to experience problems in later pregnancy and labour.

Remember not to become exhausted. You may need to slow down as your pregnancy progresses, and a good tip is that you should be able to hold a conversation as you exercise when pregnant. If you become breathless as you talk, you may be exercising too strenuously.  When the weather gets better a tip to fathers is to plan a lovely walking weekend with a picnic, so exercise in pregnancy becomes a pleasure.

Another important tip is not to lie flat on your back, particularly after 20 weeks as the weight of your bump presses on the main blood vessels which return blood to your heart and this can make you feel faint and reduce the blood flow to your baby. There are some sports to do with care, such as tennis, riding, skating, ski-ing and cycling as there is a risk of falling or two much impact. Dancing is a good form of exercise, but again with care.

Exercising and eating well are so important during pregnancy and during your postnatal recovery too. Even though you feel tired, exercise will make you feel much better, energised and positive about becoming a mother and looking after your newborn baby.

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