Continuing to exercise during pregnancy could mean the difference between an easy and a difficult labor. If you’d like to be one of those mamas who says “Well, my labor started and after two hours I pushed and there she was!”, then start exercising now! Exercise not only keeps your body toned, but it releases tension as well as builds strength. Most doctors will tell you that any exercise you did regularly prior to pregnancy is safe to continue during your pregnancy. So if you ran 3 miles a day pre-baby, continuing to run (while it’s comfortable to do so) shouldn’t be a problem. However if you weren’t a runner now isn’t the time to start. Prenatal yoga or walking would be safer options for your body. Let’s take a look at safe pregnancy exercises.
As far as safe exercise goes, walking is #1 on the list. Not only is it easy on the joints, but it encourages good circulation throughout the body. And trust me—as your pregnancy progresses, you’ll want to help your body’s circulation system. Walking is safe, so midwives recommend it during labor to speed up the process. So invest in a great pair of shoes, make an energetic playlist and start walking. And don’t let weather be an excuse—there are plenty of gyms with indoor tracks. You could even head to a mall and window shop as you workout.
2. Prenatal Yoga
Women have prepared for birth with yoga for centuries. Many yoga poses help the body to increase balance, build strength, control breath, and release tension. And once you can confidently complete the poses on your own, you can use several hip-opening ones to naturally induce labor and/or speed the birth process once your labor begins. Prenatal yoga is very safe for expecting mothers; poses are modified to accommodate expanding bellies. Don’t procrastinate on this one—most studios will offer a trial class or drop-in session so you can find an instructor you really like.
Though your clubbing days may be over, you may want to consider giving belly dancing a try. Who doesn’t love dancing? The rhythmic hip circulations focus on building strength in the back and the core—the two areas you should most be focusing on! Many community centers and studios currently offer prenatal belly dancing, just give it a try. If there isn’t a class offered in your area, consider purchasing a workout DVD and dancing in your comfy PJs at home.
4. Prenatal Pilates
Pilates is a fabulous workout, especially for the core. As your belly continues to grow, a strong core can help your body cope with minimal discomfort. Like yoga, Pilates also engages your pelvic floor muscles, which are crucial to helping you give birth. With the growing popularity of Pilates over the past few years the number of studios or gyms offering prenatal Pilates has dramatically increased. And if you can’t find a prenatal class, there are plenty of DVDs available.
There are safe prenatal exercises for every trimester. And the sooner you start, the sooner you’ll begin building the strength you need to help you deliver your little one. Staying in shape throughout your pregnancy will not only make your pregnancy easier, but it may also decrease your labor time. Stronger pelvic floor muscles will result in more effective pushes, which means you’ll be holding your little one in your arms sooner rather than later.