Regular exercise is critical to both your physical and mental well being, and maintaining an active routine before and after pregnancy is just as important. You may need to make a few adjustments to your normal workout, but if you’re not experiencing any health problems you shouldn’t hesitate to keep moving. In the months prior to the birth, exercise will help with backaches and with sleeping. It’s a great way to cope with those hormone-based mood swings.
Exercising during pregnancy may also make delivery a lot easier. Having a baby is a physical challenge that calls on a multitude of muscle groups, and your level of fitness can make a real difference in both the length and difficulty of your labor. Maintaining physical activity before the birth will also ease your post-partum transition and speed the process of returning to your pre-pregnancy weight.
You should consult with your physician before starting any new physical activity when you’re expecting, but you’ll likely be able to continue with your previous exercise regime well into your pregnancy. You’ll want to avoid contact sports, however, and extensive periods of jumping or bouncing around. Use common sense in hot weather, and be sure to stay well hydrated. If you’re doing floor work, always get up slowly and pause if you feel light headed.
Adjusting to compensate for changes in your weight and body shape can be a challenge. Your center of gravity will move as the baby grows, and in the last trimester you may find keeping your balance becomes more difficult. Many women take up swimming for a great cardio workout without the stress on muscles and joints. You’ll feel light and buoyant in the pool – and won’t be worried about falling over.
Prenatal yoga has some amazing benefits when it comes to staying in shape and preparing for childbirth. Yoga postures will help maintain flexibility, build strength, and work on balancing your ever-changing body. Most importantly, prenatal yoga classes will teach you how to focus on your breathing and calm your thoughts, skills that you’ll call upon in labor. If you’ve never experienced the mindful awareness that comes from gentle stretching and controlled breathing, there’s no better time to start than when you’re pregnant.
Over the last nine months, your body has gone through some pretty spectacular changes. Many women turn to exercise after pregnancy to lose that extra baby weight, but being active is also essential to your emotional well being. Almost all women experience some form of the “baby blues”, and exercising is the best thing you can do to ease anxiety, fight depression, and boost your energy levels.
Even though your mind and body crave physical activity after giving birth, it can be extremely difficult to get going. You’ve got an infant who requires constant attention and de-motivating hormones that are making you too lethargic to work out. Forget about your past exercise routine. Start slowly, and include your baby.
Begin with slow stretches with your baby lying on the floor beside you. Take a long walk, every day, pushing a stroller or holding your baby in a front carrier. Unless there’s a veritable monsoon outside, don’t let the weather stop you from getting out. As long as your baby’s head is covered and out of the rain, he’ll be perfectly happy to go for a stroll.
Remember those yoga classes? Every gym and community center has exercise programs for women and babies. You won’t feel self-conscious surrounded by other women whose infants don’t always co-operate with the instructor. You’ll find a ready-made support network that will help maintain your motivation and keep you on the path to wellness.
As with all stages of life, exercise during and after pregnancy should be a part of your daily routine. Combine physical exertion with mindful contemplation and enjoy the benefits of a fitter body, a healthier mind, and the gift of joyful living.
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