Having a baby is a joyful experience but can take a toll on a woman’s body.Â Pregnancy is associated with weight gain.Â Participating in an exercise program before, during, and after the baby’s birth is a good way to stay fit.Â However, it is important to maintain realistic goals because the health of the baby and the mother are always the top priority.
Exercise actually facilitates the birthing process by increasing energy levels, improving flexibility, and decreasing anxiety and fatigue.Â Strengthening the muscles can help in the delivery process and increasing the mother’s endurance level can help reduce labor pains.
Pregnant women should always consult their doctors before embarking on a fitness program.Â The doctor will alert them to signs that they must discontinue exercise, such as chest pain, bleeding or fluid discharge from the vagina, swelling, nausea, and shortness of breath.Â If any of these are experienced during exercise, the doctor should be informed immediately.
There are certain guidelines pregnant women should follow while exercising.Â These include exercising at a low intensity, staying well hydrated, avoiding exercises which require the holding of breath or that the mother lie down on her back.Â Mothers should always warm up before and cool down after exercising, avoid hot tubs and saunas, and wear cool, breathable clothing.
Yoga offers many benefits and is fast becoming a part of overall fitness programs in many pregnancy self-care routines.Â Some yoga positions may need to be altered slightly when they are performed as part of a pregnancy health program.Â The safety of the mother and her unborn baby are always the primary concern.
Yoga offers the following benefits for mothers:Â The Cat pose improves lower spine flexibility; the Heroine pose reduces nausea; deep breathing increases energy and calms emotions; the yoga positions help during labor by teaching the mother to work with, instead of against, contractions.
When fitness programs are followed during the pre and post-pregnancy stages, they allow the body to adjust more easily to the increased weight, as well as to the recovery process post-birth.