Antenatal exercises, also known as prenatal exercises refer to the exercises that are performed during pregnancy or before the birth of the baby.
Every pregnant woman wishes to have a safe pregnancy with the delivery of a healthy baby. Exercising during pregnancy is the way to achieve your desire. It helps to increase the stamina required for delivery. During pregnancy, certain physiological changes occur, so these exercises during the antenatal period can benefit you a lot.
Doctors also suggest that pregnant mothers do antenatal exercises regularly but be cautious against over-exercising because it can harm you and your baby during pregnancy. Sometimes, over-exercising leads to miscarriage and fetal death.
Benefits of doing Antenatal Exercises
Antenatal exercises help to maintain a good fitness level throughout the pregnancy. It should be done 5 times per week.
When you do exercises during pregnancy it is good for you and your baby inside the womb. The main purpose behind the antenatal exercises is to make the pregnant woman mentally and physically healthy. Here are some benefits of antenatal exercises listed below-
- It increases the energy level during pregnancy and stamina required during delivery.
- Helps to correct the posture.
- Reducing muscular cramps.
- Less backache.
- Reduces constipation.
- Encourage flexibility of pelvic joints which help in labour.
- A pregnant woman who exercise, have a short labour period and fewer chances of fetal compromise.
- During pregnancy, a pregnant woman gains weight more than usual. Exercise helps to maintain weight and prevent gestational diabetes, and even high blood pressure.
- Promotes good breathing.
- Increases muscular strength.
Contraindications of Exercise during Pregnancy
There are some conditions in which antenatal exercises have to be avoided or contraindicated that include-
- High blood pressure during pregnancy
- Preterm rupture of membranes
- Incompetent cervix
- Placenta previa
- Intrauterine growth retardation
- Multiple pregnancies
- Cardiac diseases
- Severe anaemia
Types of Antenatal Exercises
Different types of antenatal exercises that can be performed are-
Walking is an easy and safe exercise during pregnancy and is considered as the basic antenatal exercise. Walking for 20 to 30 minutes helps to stay active throughout the pregnancy. It is a type of cardiovascular workout.
Low impact aerobics
It helps to maintain muscle tone, reduces the stress on the joints and prevents back pain during pregnancy.
Yoga is a mind and body practice. It is one of the safest exercises that can be performed during pregnancy. It improves strength, balance and flexibility. Different yoga poses help to provide relief from back pain and joint pain which are usually experienced by pregnant mothers. Yoga can be performed by anyone to make their body fit and healthy.
Abdominal exercises are performed to strengthen the abdominal muscles and ligaments which stretches during pregnancy. It includes
Resisted Knee to Chest Exercise
- This exercise can be performed by lying flat on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
- Start with the pelvic tilt and then lift your head towards your chest as you raise one knee towards your abdomen.
- Now grab your leg just below the knee using both hands.
- Using your leg muscles try to push the knee towards your feet while your hands pull the knee towards your abdomen.
- Hold it for 5 seconds and then release.
- Repeat on the other knee.
- In the beginning, you have to do this exercise 5 times then, build up to 10 repetitions.
Straight Curl-up Exercise
- Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
- Bring your chin to your chest.
- Be sure to curl your back without raising your waist and then roll back down.
- Repeat this up to five times at first then build up to 10 repetitions.
Exercises are performed to strengthen the pelvic muscles supporting the pelvic organs.
Pelvic tilt on all fours
- Position yourself on your hands and knees with your head and back parallel to the floor.
- Tighten your abdominal muscles and tuck your buttocks under to round the lower back.
- Hold for 5 seconds and then release.
- Initially, do it 5 times and then build up to 10 repetitions.
- Tighten your pelvic floor muscles by squeezing the urethral and vaginal opening.
- You should hold it for 5 seconds and release it.
- Repeat 5 times for a set and perform a set 8 to 10 times each day.
Tailor Sit and Stretch
- Sit on the floor with your knees out and ankles crossed.
- Hold your back erect. While in this position, place your hands under the knees.
- Then press your knees towards the floor while resisting this movement with your hands.
- Hold it for 5 seconds and then release.
- Do this stretch five times at first and then build up to 10 repetitions.
If you know swimming then it is an excellent exercise for you. It can ensure a constant blood flow throughout the pregnancy.
This exercise is performed by assuming a squatting position. Make sure that you don’t lean forward. Return to the original position and continue doing 10 repetitions.
Regular antenatal exercises are very beneficial to pregnant women. If you experience any unusual symptoms, like shortness of breath, vaginal bleeding, leaking of amniotic fluid, faintness, high heart rate, weakness, abdominal pain and decreased fetal movements then stop doing exercises and consult your health care provider immediately.
Gentle exercises are safe for most women. However, a doctor should always be consulted before any exercise program begins. You should never strain yourself while exercising. Make sure you take a proper diet and keep yourself hydrated.
In the above post, we discussed the benefits and different types of antenatal exercises performed during pregnancy. Exercises are quite safe and beneficial for the mother and the baby during pregnancy. Consult your doctor before you plan for any exercise program.