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36 – Great Expectations

Whether you are going to have a “natural” childbirth with little or no anesthesia or whether you choose some pain reducing drugs, you still need to exercise during your entire pregnancy to develop muscle strength for labor.

Exercise helps with backaches, circulation, insomnia and weight control. If you experience certain complications during your pregnancy, you and your baby may require a more sedentary activity level with little exercise. If you are expecting twins or have high blood pressure, a weak cervix, or a condition in which it appears that your fetus is not growing properly, bed rest or little exercise may be recommended. Common sense, listening to your body’s signals and talking with your healthcare provider are the main guides to exercising during pregnancy.

Walking is an excellent exercise. Normally, you do not have to limit your exercise, except when it risks injury to you or your baby. When exercising, drink lots of water and wear good shoes and a support bra.

You should stop any exercise if you develop shortness of breath, chest pain, extreme fatigue, dizziness, uterine contractions, decreased fetal movement or leakage of fuid from the vagina.

Certain types of exercise are safer during pregnancy than others. Walking and swimming are 2 such examples.

Cycling is good early in pregnancy, but can become more diffcult later in pregnancy because of balance issues and the risk of falling. Stationary or recumbent biking is more acceptable. Aerobic classes such as water and low impact aerobics and those especially designed for pregnancy are benefcial. Other exercises such as running, racquet sports and weight training should be done in moderation. These exercises are more appropriate for those pregnant women who did them prior to pregnancy.

Certain physical activities should be avoided during pregnancy. These activities in general increase the risk of injury to you and your baby. These activities include contact sports such as soccer and ice hockey. Downhill snow skiing poses a risk of falls and injuries as well as altitude sickness, making it harder to breath and limiting the supply of oxygen to your baby. Scuba diving should be avoided during pregnancy. Other activities such as horseback riding and water skiing increase the risk of falling and injury.

Exercise

During Pregnancy

Sensible guidelines to apply when exercising

• Avoid impact exercise such as jumping or jarring activities. • Avoid becoming overheated – be careful in hot or humid weather. • Avoid excessive stress to your lower back area.

• Limit the intensity of your exercise program to the same level as you set when you were not pregnant.

• Exercise for shorter periods of time and rest frequently.

• Reduce weight-bearing exercise (running, weight machines) in favor of non-weight-bearing exercise (swimming, cycling).

• Avoid any exercises on your back after the frst trimester (12 weeks) of pregnancy.

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