Keeping active and exercising during pregnancy can help to keep you both healthy, and it’s safe for your developing baby. The BUPA Global team runs through some exercise tips for mums-to-be and key things to keep in mind.
Adapting your exercise regime
As your body starts to change through pregnancy, you’ll probably need to adapt the kind of exercise you do. For example, things like morning sickness, back pain, sore breasts or heartburn might affect how you feel about exercising.
“In the early days of pregnancy, I felt really tired,” says Alice, a mum of two. “I mainly stuck to walking and the occasional yoga class until I got my energy back.”
Pay attention to what your body is telling you. If you feel unwell, stop or change what you’re doing and see how you feel. If you haven’t been active for a while, start gently and build. Your midwife, physiotherapist or GP can give you advice.
Aim to do at least 150 minutes of moderate activity each week. Short bursts of 10 minutes each are fine, and any amount of exercise is better than none at all. This can include walking, carrying the shopping, gardening and housework.
What kind of exercises should I be doing during pregnancy?
Aerobic and strengthening exercise Try to do a mixture of cardiovascular (aerobic) activity and strengthening exercise during pregnancy.
Cardiovascular activity, such as brisk walking or swimming, makes your muscles and heart work harder. If you’re doing this type of activity at a moderate level, you should be out of breath but still able to talk.
Strengthening exercises, including lifting weights, aerobics and circuit training, help to strengthen muscles and bones. If you’re new to these activities, speak to a physiotherapist or gym instructor before you start.
Swimming and aqua aerobics are great forms of exercise; the water helps to support your weight, there’s less chance of injury, and being in the water can help you relax. Yoga and gentle stretching exercise such as Pilates are also good; just avoid moves that involve lying on your back for long periods of time.
Pelvic floor exercise
Your pelvic floor muscles support your bladder, bowel and womb and keep them in place. When you’re pregnant, they help to support your baby, so it’s important to keep them strong; this can also reduce the chance of developing incontinence before and after you give birth.
How to exercise your pelvic floor muscles:
- Sit with your knees bent and slightly apart, feet on the floor. (Later in your pregnancy, you can do this standing or lying down.)
- Find the right muscles. Imagine stopping yourself from passing wind and peeing; it should feel like a “squeeze and lift”.
- Do some slow contractions. Hold the muscles for about five seconds, then rest for a few seconds and repeat, up to 10 times. Try to work up to holding the muscles for 10 seconds.
- Next, try fast contractions. Draw your pelvic floor muscles upwards quickly and hold this for a second. Repeat this up to 10 times.
- Aim to do this up to six times a day. But don’t overdo it – listen to your body and take it at your pace.
Things to remember
Stay well hydrated when you’re exercising, and don’t do more than you feel comfortable doing – listen to your body. If you develop any symptoms – from faintness, chest pain and difficulty breathing, to painful contractions or fluid coming from your vagina – stop and get in touch with your midwife or GP as soon as possible.
Bupa Global offers a comprehensive range of health plans to suit different needs and budgets, including up to US$30,000 cover for maternity and childbirth (waiting period applies). Babies can be covered from birth even with congenital conditions, and cover for pre- and post-natal treatment is also available. Some plans cover two children up to age 10 at no extra cost, subject to underwriting.
This article was brought to you by Bupa Global.
This article first appeared in the Summer 2020 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.
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