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Fitness Guide to healthy pregnancy & labor

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Exercise benefits are high not only during but also post pregnancy! It helps relax, strengthen, stretch and also tone your body.

Women who choose to exercise have found to have experienced better pregnancy outcomes in terms of easy labor and vaginal deliveries as opposed to those who don’t. 

It is essential to consult your doctor before to take up any exercise regimen.

These exercises will aim at increasing the efficiency of the pelvic floor musculature, enhancing your core stability, helping you reduce low back ache and ultimately strengthen & relax your body.

 

Breathing exercises

Pregnancy & child birth are the most demanding tasks that a woman has to take up. Breathing exercises are simple to carry out and their benefit is great! With the beginning of the second trimester many begin to feel drained out and a regular breathing exercise protocol will help cope with that extra demand of oxygen from your baby!

Lie down on your left side in a quiet and dimly lit room. Ensure you are comfortably clothed. Get rid of any straps or belts that might obstruct your breathing. Breathe in full to fill up your lungs and then slowly exhale out through your mouth with pursed lips. Follow this in a rhythmic manner as ‘Inhale – Exhale’. 

This breathing technique would help you relax during pregnancy and also initial stage of labor and in the later stage to minimize pain. It will help you gain control over your body and mind during the birthing process.

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Kegels exercises

Kegels have been top on the list when it comes to ante natal exercises right since 1940s. They not only help increase the strength and control of the pelvic floor muscles but also help increase control of the urethra, vagina and the rectal musculature. 

Kegels will help you keep urinary and anal incontinence at bay during and post pregnancy. ‘Squeeze and lift’ is the technique- start with an empty bladder and try to imagine as if you were trying to stop urine in the midstream.

This can be done in the lying down position with knees bent or even in the sitting position. You must feel the closing and drawing up of your vaginal and anal passages.

Keep in mind not to hold your breath or contract your tummy while doing Kegels. Hold each contraction for about 10 seconds before you let go.

 

Flexibility stretches

Stretching is equally important as strengthening. Stretching would help you relax, increase flexibility, joint coordination and also muscle control. Flexibility stretches will play an important role in relieving pregnancy aches and pains which would come up due to the postural modifications which result from changes in the centre of gravity during pregnancy.

Wall Pushups- Stand facing a wall with an arms distance from it. Lean        on the wall with your hands at your shoulder level. Maintain comfortable      distance between both the feet. Gradually lower your chest by bending your elbows and allowing your chin to touch the wall. You would feel a stretch in your calves along with the back of your arms.

Shoulder circles- In order to relax your shoulder joints a bilateral callisthenic activity would help! Touch the tip of your shoulders with your hands; slowly rotate your hands considering your elbows as the reference points. Continue the activity in slow rhythmic rotations. This will help you relax as well as strengthen the shoulder joint muscles.

Aerobic exercise

Low intensity aerobic activity for about 15 minutes daily will help you stay fresh and active during pregnancy. You may opt for a brisk walk or even swimming. This will keep you from feeling tired by increasing your endurance and cardio-respiratory capacities. The overall benefit of this would be a non exhaustive labor and birthing experience!

Written by:
Dr.Veena Salunke (B.P.Th.)
Masters In Health Administration

Date last updated: September 13, 2013