Pregnancy can pose a host of questions and worries for expectant mothers, one of which is the safety and benefits of physical activity during this transformative time. Most of us tend to believe that during pregnancy women need to rest as much as they can, as too much exhaustion may lead to miscarriage or affect the baby’s health adversely. However, it has been suggested by contemporary physicians that exercising during pregnancy is highly helpful.
Exercise has the potential to assist expectant mothers in maintaining their physical health, reducing stress and anxiety, and promoting overall wellness. Furthermore, regular exercise can bring a range of benefits for both the mother and the child, including preparing the body for labor and delivery.
Exercise can aid in strengthening the muscles utilized during labor and delivery, such as the pelvic floor muscles, lower back, and hips, making the delivery process smoother and potentially less painful. Additionally, exercising during pregnancy can also decrease the risk of complications such as gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and cesarean delivery.
This article delves into some safe pregnancy exercises for normal delivery. However, it is critical to understand that every pregnancy is unique, and personalized exercise plans should be developed in consultation with a medical professional.
What Are The Benefits of Normal Delivery?
There are several benefits of normal delivery, including:
- Quicker recovery: Women who have a normal delivery typically recover faster than those who have a cesarean section.
- Reduced risk of complications: Normal delivery carries a lower risk of complications than a cesarean section.
- Better bonding: The physical and emotional experience of a normal delivery can help facilitate bonding between a mother and her baby.
- Fewer restrictions: Women who have a normal delivery often have fewer restrictions on their activities after birth than those who have a cesarean section.
- Better breastfeeding: A natural delivery may make it easier for a mother to breastfeed her baby, as the hormonal changes that occur during a natural birth can stimulate milk production.
- Lower costs: Normal delivery is typically less expensive than a cesarean section.
- Reduced risk of infections: The risk of infections is lower with a normal delivery than with a cesarean section.
It’s important to note that while normal delivery is the preferred method of birth for many women, there are some medical conditions that may require a cesarean section. Women should discuss their individual birth plan with their healthcare provider.
Why Seek Medical Advice Before Starting Any Exercise Program?
Seeking medical advice before starting any exercise program during pregnancy is essential for several reasons.
- The healthcare provider can assess the overall health of the mother and the baby and determine if there are any medical conditions that might prevent her from exercising safely. For example, some women might have a history of preterm labor, placental abruption, or other complications that could impact their ability to exercise.
- The healthcare provider can recommend a personalized exercise program based on the mother’s individual needs and conditions. This might involve modifying the intensity, frequency, and duration of the exercises, as well as avoiding certain types of exercises altogether.
- The healthcare provider can monitor the progress of the mother and the baby throughout the pregnancy and make any necessary adjustments to the exercise program as needed. This helps ensure that the mother and the baby remain healthy and safe during this crucial stage in their lives.
What to Look for in a Prenatal Exercise Program?
When seeking medical advice and choosing a prenatal exercise program, there are several things to keep in mind.
- The program should be designed specifically for pregnant women. It should take into account the physical, emotional, and hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy and provide appropriate exercise options that are safe and effective.
- The program should be taught by qualified and experienced instructors who understand the unique needs of pregnant women. This helps ensure that the exercises are performed correctly and safely.
- The program should be flexible and allow for modifications based on the mother’s individual needs and conditions. This might involve reducing the intensity, frequency, and duration of the exercises, or avoiding certain types of exercises altogether.
Tips for Safe Pregnancy Exercise
While seeking medical advice and participating in a prenatal exercise program are important, there are also several tips for safe exercise during pregnancy that can be helpful.
- It is important to listen to your body and not push yourself too hard. Pregnancy can be physically and emotionally draining, so it is important to take it easy and not overexert yourself.
- It is important to stay hydrated and fuel your body with healthy and nutritious food. This ensures that you get enough energy and nutrition to support yourself as well as your growing baby..
- It is important to avoid high-impact exercises, such as jumping and running, as well as exercises that put pressure on your abdomen, such as sit-ups and crunches. These exercises can be dangerous and increase the risk of complications during pregnancy.
Are Pregnancy Exercises Safe for Everyone?
Women with specific medical issues are advised not to exercise in order to have a normal birth. These mostly include of:
- Women who suffer from conditions including diabetes, heart disease, or asthma
- Women who experienced hemorrhage throughout their pregnancies, early losses, or premature births.
Top Pregnancy Exercises For Normal Delivery
Some physical exercises can be very helpful for a pregnant woman to stay fit. Because rapid movement of body parts can be dangerous during pregnancy, women should practice yoga. There are several pregnancy yoga asanas that a pregnant woman should perform daily.
One of the main advantages of practicing yoga exercise during pregnancy is that it will help a woman to strengthen her body and mind simultaneously. As the main purpose of yoga is to connect the body with the mind, the yoga asanas, or postures, are just ideal for a pregnant woman. However, it is very important to mention here that general yoga exercises can be performed by a woman only for the first two months of pregnancy. After that, she can practice some special exercises or asanas like Pranayama, Vajrasana, Padmasana, Sukhasana, and Shavasana.
Pranayama is very helpful for pregnant women. If a woman has a severe breathing problem, then Pranayama is the best remedy for her. Pregnant women should perform this yoga posture at least twice a day. Pranayama is very easy to perform. You just need to close one nostril and exhale strongly from the other for at least half a minute, and then do the reverse. The whole process should be repeated for at least five minutes.
Vajrasana is also a very easy and helpful physical exercise for a pregnant woman. Simply fold your knees and place your hips on the two heels. Sit straight and then relax your hands on your knees. Vajrasana facilitates proper digestion of food, especially when the space in the intestine is reduced by an enlarged uterus, which makes digestion difficult
Padmasana or Lotus Pose should be performed by pregnant women for at least three to five minutes at a stretch. Padmasana is performed by sitting straight and stretching your legs in front. Then place your right foot on the upper thigh and the left foot on the right thigh.
Shavasana is very easy to perform but is a very useful exercise for reducing breathing problems. Shavasana, which is also known as the Corpse Pose, is an exercise where you have to lie on your back, spreading your hands and legs just like a corpse. Keep your neck in a comfortable position, breathe normally, and concentrate on each of your body parts, starting from the toe
Apart from these, Sukhasana is also a yoga posture that pregnant women may perform to avoid menstrual disorders in the post-delivery period. Besides, regular morning and evening walks and moderate exercises for the limbs, back, and abdomen should also be performed by pregnant women to stay fit.
Pregnancy is a time when women experience a variety of physical and sexual complications. Urinary inconsistency is one such physical problem that mostly occurs in pregnant women, especially as the date of delivery gets closer. In some cases, women suffer from urinary incontinence just after delivery, too. If you are a pregnant woman suffering from this problem, what will you do? Kegel exercises are the answer to your problem. There are different Kegel exercises that pregnant women should perform to get rid of their complications.
Named after Dr. Arnold Kegel, Kegel exercises, or Kegel’s, are exercises that aim at strengthening the pubococcygeus muscles. Kegel exercises are performed by contracting and relaxing the muscles of the pelvic floor, which are also known as the Kegel muscles. Problems in the pelvic floor, vaginal prolapse, uterine prolapse, urinary incontinence, and prostate pain are some of the major physical complications that pregnant women suffer from during the advanced stage of their pregnancy. By performing Kegel exercises, pregnant women can easily get rid of these problems.
By doing these exercises on a regular basis, you can keep your pelvic floor muscles toned up, which would help you avoid the risk of urinary incontinence. But to do that, you need to know the proper technique for performing the exercises
Important Points to Remember While Doing Kegels
Identifying the right muscle: To get rid of urine inconsistency or other problems in the pelvic floor, you must identify the right muscle first. Insert your finger inside the vagina and squeeze all the surrounding muscles. You should feel that your vagina has tightened and the pelvic floor has moved upward. Then relax your muscles. And let your pelvic floor come back to its own position. If you cannot identify the right muscle, then contact a doctor.
Contraction of the muscles: Once you have identified the muscle, start contracting and relaxing it repeatedly at a stretch. It will help strengthen the muscles.
Keep your hands on the abdomen and buttocks, and make sure that you are not feeling the movement of your belly, thighs, and buttocks. Don’t tighten your abdomen, thighs, and buttock muscles or squeeze your legs. There is no need to hold your breath. You should be able to talk freely while performing the exercises. You can choose between slow and fast contractions depending on your needs.
Duration: While performing the exercises, make sure that you are contracting and relaxing your pelvic floor muscles for at least 10 seconds. Repeat the whole process for at least 10 minutes in one round. Six sets of fast contractions a day are ideal for women suffering from pelvic floor problems.
Swimming is a fantastic exercise option for expectant mothers. The buoyant properties of water provide a low-impact workout that can help improve your cardiovascular health, build in your muscle strength, relieve stress on your joints, and improve your sleep. Plus, the added resistance of the water can give you a full-body workout that will leave you feeling invigorated and refreshed. It has proved to shorten the labor and decease the risk of complications at birth.
If you were used to swimming before becoming pregnant, try to swim for 30 minutes, four to seven times a week. If you’ve never done it before or haven’t done much swimming, start off cautiously by swimming for 15 minutes at a time and gradually increase your time.
There is no evidence to support the claim that your baby may be at risk, despite some women’s concerns that the chemicals used to maintain swimming pools might harm their unborn child.
You can swim all the way during your pregnancy, but you might find it easier to avoid the pool’s busiest hours. The weightlessness in the water should be quite cozy and soothing as your pregnancy progresses.
Safe Swimming Strokes During Pregnancy
- Gentle freestyle with modifications, such as kicking with a kickboard.
Safe swimming strokes provide a low-impact workout and minimize the risk of over-exertion, discomfort, or injury during pregnancy.
Things to Avoid While Doing Swimming During Pregnancy
- Hot tubs or spas, as high water temperatures can cause overheating and harm the baby.
- Deep diving or jumping into the water, as it can be harmful to the baby and cause disorientation.
- Contact with contaminated water, as it can expose you to infections or toxins.
- Swimming in open water or in a pool with uncertain depth, as there is a risk of drowning.
- Strokes that require holding your breath for long periods, such as freestyle or butterfly.
- Over-exertion, as it can cause fatigue, dehydration, and an increased heart rate.
- Any exercise or movement that causes discomfort or pain.
So dive into a pool, relax and enjoy the wonderful benefits that come with this wonderful exercise.
Most pregnant women should try to exercise for 150 minutes per week, which entails at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity on most, if not all, days of the week. The majority of pregnant women find that walking is a safe, efficient, and convenient form of exercise. It can be done almost anywhere and any time. You may go for a stroll through your neighborhood, through a park, or around the block outside of your place of employment with just a decent, comfortable pair of sneakers and a water bottle. It offers mild aerobic fitness while putting little strain on your joints.
Benefits of Walking Exercise During Pregnancy
- Improved cardiovascular health
- Increased physical endurance
- Better circulation
- Reduced stress on joints
- Relief from back pain and swelling
- Improved mood and stress reduction
- Better sleep
- Preparedness for labor and delivery
- Maintenance of a healthy weight
- A stronger bond with your growing baby.
Safety Tips for Walking During Pregnancy
- Wear comfortable and supportive shoes.
- Stay hydrated before, during, and after your walk.
- Avoid walking in extreme temperatures, such as hot and humid weather.
- Walk on flat, even surfaces and avoid slippery or uneven surfaces.
- Avoid overexertion and listen to your body.
- Wear loose, comfortable clothing to avoid overheating.
- Avoid walking for long periods of time without breaks.
- Wear proper support for your growing belly.
- Consult with your doctor before starting a walking program.
- If experiencing any complications during pregnancy, such as preterm labor or bleeding, stop walking and consult with your doctor.
During pregnancy, squats are an excellent resistance exercise to build the lower body strength and facilitates smooth range of motion in the hips, glutes, core, and pelvic floor muscles. Squatting also helps open up your pelvis and assist your baby’s descent. When performed correctly, squats can help improve posture, and they have the potential to assist with the birthing process.
You may begin squatting early in pregnancy, but as the weeks pass, your growing tummy and changing body will have an impact on the way you exercise. Therefore, you need to adjust your exercise routine to suit those changes.
Benefits of Squatting Exercises During Pregnancy
- Improved circulation and oxygenation to the uterus and baby.
- Strengthening of the legs, hips, and pelvic muscles.
- Improved flexibility in the hips and pelvis.
- Better alignment of the pelvis and spine.
- Improved balance and stability.
- Preparation for labor and delivery by engaging the muscles used during delivery.
- Relief from back pain and discomfort.
- Improved posture.
- Prevent constipation and urinary incontinence.
- Increased endurance for the demands of labor and delivery.
Safe Squat Exercises During Pregnancy
- Bodyweight squats: Simply stand with your feet hip-width apart, lower your hips as if you were sitting back into a chair, and then stand back up.
- Wall squats: Stand with your back against a wall and lower your hips as if you were sitting back into a chair.
- Chair squats: Stand in front of a sturdy chair, lower your hips as if you were going to sit down, and then stand back up.
- Sumo squats: Stand with your feet wider than hip-width apart, turn your toes out to the sides, and lower your hips as if you were sitting back into a chair.
- Goblet squats: Hold a weight, such as a dumbbell or kettlebell, close to your chest and perform a squat.
- Squat pulses: Perform a squat and hold at the bottom, pulsing your hips up and down for a set number of repetitions.
Pelvic Tilt Exercise
Pelvic tilting is also known as angry cat because when you’re angry, your stomach muscles contract similarly to those of animals. This is a fantastic pregnant workout since it eases the pain of childbirth. Additionally, it helps in supporting and strengthening the back muscles, which are essential for delivery. Up until delivery, it might pull your hips to align them with your stomach, giving you more flexibility when you’re lying down. They may be carried out while sitting on an exercise ball, kneeling down, and standing up against a wall.
Benefits Of Pelvic Tilt Exercises During Pregnancy
- Supports pelvic floor muscles
- Helps open the pelvis
- Promotes proper fetal positioning
- Increases comfort during labor
- Shortens labor and delivery time.
Safe Pelvic Tilt Exercises During Pregnancy
- Glute Bridge: Strengthens glutes and lower back muscles, improves posture and reduces lower back pain.
- Quadruped Pelvic Tilts: Improves pelvic stability and strengthens abdominal muscles, also helps reduce lower back pain.
- Birth Squat: Stretches hip flexors and strengthens legs, helps open the pelvis and prepares for labor and delivery.
- Foam Rolling: Releases tight muscles in the lower back, hips and legs, increases circulation and flexibility.
- Happy Baby Stretch: Stretches the hips and lower back, eases discomfort and helps open the pelvis for delivery.
Pregnancy Exercises for Normal Delivery YouTube Video
Pregnancy Exercise Guidelines
There are some guidelines for pregnancy exercises for normal delivery that should be followed to help you choose the right kind of exercise to remain fit and healthy.
- If you are a pregnant woman, the first thing that you should keep in mind is that you must maintain your pregnancy exercise program as prescribed by your doctor or physical trainer. Once you start exercising, don’t stop in the middle. It might cause serious trouble for your health. Don’t be afraid of exercises because they do not increase the risk of miscarriage.
- While starting the exercise session, one should start slowly. Try to be very careful at every move and make sure that you are not exerting yourself. You are doing exercises to stay fit, so there is no point in getting exhausted by putting additional strain on your body. Never push yourself to the point of exhaustion because this may result in a lack of oxygen for your baby.
- Try to listen to your body. A time will come when you will feel that it’s time to reduce the level of exercise. Respond to your body and reduce the duration of your exercise session. Pregnancy exercises change from one stage to another. The exercises that you can perform in the early stages of your pregnancy are not suitable for the advanced stage. So change your exercises accordingly.
Apart from these, other major guidelines for pregnancy exercises for normal delivery that a pregnant woman should follow are given below:
- You should wear comfortable footwear that is specially made for performing exercises. This footwear provides ankle strength and arch support.
- You should take frequent breaks during your exercise session and drink a lot of fluids.
- You should avoid exercising in extremely hot weather. You might get exhausted very fast.
- If you are running or cycling, strictly avoid rocky terrain and rough roads. Ankle sprains and other injuries may occur.
- If you are doing weight training, avoid lifting weights above your head. Don’t use weights that may strain the lower back muscles.
- If you are in the third trimester, stop doing exercises that involve lying flat on your back. This can decrease the flow of blood to your womb.
Related: How Do I Stay Fit in Pregnancy?
Exercises to Avoid During Pregnancy
There are several physical exercises that can help a pregnant woman keep fit. But there are some exercises to avoid during pregnancy too as they may cause serious problems for you and your baby.
Before you start exercising, consult a doctor or a health care professional and let him or her suggest some specific and relevant exercises for you. Try to adhere to those instructions while exercising. If you have a practice of doing weight training, then avoid lifting weights above your head so that your backbone does not get damaged. You should also lose weight to put as little pressure on your abdomen as possible.
Don’t make yourself exhausted, and make sure that you are not suffering from breathlessness. Your shortness of breath may result in a lack of oxygen for your baby. Try to take frequent breaks between your sessions and drink plenty of fluids like fruit juice and water. Other than these, outdoor cycling, vigorous stretching, and rollerblading are also exercises to avoid during pregnancy. Even if you are cycling, strictly avoid mountainous terrain and undulating and rough roads because these can lead to serious problems for your health. Don’t give unnecessary strain to your ankles and thighs.
You must completely stop participating in contact sports and trampoline, which involve tremendous physical strain. Moreover, there is a risk of falling, which could be hazardous for you. Once you reach the fourth month of pregnancy, avoid performing exercises for which you need to fall on your back. The weight of your baby can make your main artery compress. This might lead to a lowering of blood pressure, and you might feel dizzy.
Jolting, jumping, running, and jarring of the body are also exercises to avoid during pregnancy, especially in the later stages. You might get extremely exhausted by doing this, which is not preferable when the delivery date is very close. You must also avoid exercising in extremely hot weather.
Exercises for pregnant women change with every stage, so you should get a health checkup regularly to know what kinds of exercises are suitable for your physical condition.
Yoga postures and simple freehand exercises are the most suitable exercises for pregnant women. These are exercises that a pregnant woman should perform on a regular basis to keep her fit and get rid of physical complications if there are any.
In conclusion, when it comes to a successful pregnancy and delivery, regular exercise is key! And with the 6 safe pregnancy exercises for normal delivery outlined in this article, women can feel confident in their ability to prepare for it and enhance their overall health and well-being throughout pregnancy. But don’t just take our word for it, consult with your healthcare provider to ensure these exercises are right for you and your specific circumstances. Empower yourself to have the best pregnancy possible and increase your chances of a normal delivery by incorporating these exercises into your routine today!