Exercise helps to maintain a healthy weight, reduces the risks of heart attack, stroke, other cardiovascular diseases and certain types of cancer.Â It boosts mood and reduces depression through the production of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that make you feel happy and well, as well as other mechanisms.Â Exercising during pregnancy is a good idea for all these reasons and more; it is often stated that people who physically fit tend to have a better pregnancy and labour because their heart, lungs and muscles are stronger and more able to cope with the extra work.Â Unfortunately many women are concerned about the safety of exercising during pregnancy.
Is Exercise Safe During Pregnancy?
A study from October 1998 published in the American Journal of Public Health found that exercise is safe during pregnancy in normal circumstances and that women who exercised vigorously were more likely to continue their pregnancies to full term.Â It is important, however, for women to check with their doctor or midwife before undertaking a vigorous exercise programme, although during a normal healthy pregnancy it would be unlikely that a health practitioner would advise against it.Â In certain circumstances, for example in placenta previa or when there is a higher than average risk of premature labour vigorous exercise is not recommended so it always worth checking first.Â If you did not exercise regularly before you were pregnant it is unwise to start an intensive programme when you become pregnant.Â Start gently and build up slowly; avoid overdoing it.
What Type Of Exercise Is Best During Pregnancy?
Swimming is an ideal form of exercise whilst pregnant and there are many reasons for this.Â The first is that it is important to avoid overheating as there are risks involved because the unborn baby is unable to regulate it’s own temperature.Â Swimming is one of the few forms of exercise where it is very difficult to become overheated, as long as the pool water is not too hot.Â If you swim often or for prolonged periods of time it is of benefit to wear swimming ear plugs to prevent swimmer’s ear.Â Antibacterial ear plugs are more effective as they actively kill the bacteria which cause swimmer’s ear.Â It is worth protecting yourself against ear infections in order to avoid needing to take antibiotics when you are pregnant.
Why Is Swimming Better Than Other Forms Of Exercise During Pregnancy?
During pregnancy the hormone relaxin causes relaxation of the maternal ligaments; this is to allow the pelvic bones to move and aid passage of the baby into the outside world, but it can also lead to instability during walking and running making the mother more likely to fall, particularly during the later stages of pregnancy.Â Any activity which increases the risk of falling should be avoided due to the risk of trauma to the unborn baby.Â Swimming is ideal in this situation as the body is floating in the water so the pelvis and hips are supported, any discomfort during movement is reduced and exercise is made easier.
Many women are uncomfortable during the third trimester due the size and position of their pregnant bump.Â Breasts are often engorged and tender.Â Swimming is usually more comfortable than jogging or other forms of exercise because of the support offered by the water which stops the breasts and abdomen bouncing and causing discomfort whilst exercising.Â The chlorine in the water is safe and won’t harm your baby.
Swimming is an excellent form of exercise during pregnancy.Â It has many advantages over other forms; you are less likely to become overheated, your body is supported and more comfortable, you are at lower risk of injury from falling and you will benefit from the reduction in cardiovascular disease and obesity.Â Just make sure you wear your ear plugs to protect yourself against swimmer’s ear.
Author Bio: Dr Toby Bateson is an Emergency Room Doctor as well as being the MD of ZenPlugs and the inventor of the ZenPlugs Molded Ear Plug System.Â He lives in Cornwall, UK with his wife and two small children.Â His website is at www.zenplugs.com.