Prenatal Exercise – Benefits For Mother & Baby
How taking regular exercise when pregnant can be of benefit to mother and baby
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Thinking about exercise during your pregnancy? Get some great tips in this question and answer session with a professional pre-natal personal trainer in Dubai
Pre-natal exercise during pregnancy has been proven to provide health benefits to both mum-t0-be and baby. There are exercises you can easily perform when pregnant and of course exercises that should be avoided. Amanda, a female personal trainer from Dubai who specialises in both pre and post natal training helps provide some answers to key questions many pregnant women in the UAE often ask.
Most women want to know if exercise is safe when pregnant (pre-natal)?
Exercise both pre-natal and post-partum has numerous health benefits which are well documented. Both aerobic and resistance training at moderate intensity are generally considered safe.
Therefore pregnant women who were previously active may continue with exercise but are advised to modify routines in accordance with their individual situation and general physiological changes associated with pregnancy.
Pregnant women who were not previously active need to start at a slow level and progress gradually, but are generally also advised to exercise.
What are the main benefits of exercising during pregnancy?
The benefits of staying active with exercise while pregnant are numerous, but to name a few:
- First of all, you’re less likely to gain excess weight during your pregnancy.
- You may have an easier and shorter labor and delivery if you have a good cardiovascular system and strong muscles to help you in the pushing stage.
- Risks of developing pregnancy related issues such as leg swelling, diabetes, constipation and low back pain are reduced.
Can you describe which exercises (or types) are the most beneficial to pregnant women in the UAE and also what benefit these exercises provide?
General strength training (modified) keeps your muscles strong, ensures a good blood flow and offers the benefits mentioned above.
Also specific strengthening of pregnancy specific muscles such as pelvic floor muscles and postural muscles are good to have in the program, as they help you stay tight and strong enough to carry around the weight of your baby. Training these muscles during pregnancy might also help you recover faster post-partum.
Water based exercise programs (low to moderate intensity) may reduce the risks associated with land based exercise and can be considered an option. The water temperature should not exceed 32 degrees celcius.
Some relaxation, labour preparation and/or flexibility training should also be included as they might help you learn to get focused and relax during delivery. A personal trainer in the UAE who has experience in pre-post natal training will be able to develop a specific training plan for your needs and monitor your progress during all stages of your pregnancy and post-natal.
They say you’re eating for two when pregnant; do you have any nutrition tips you can provide to pregnant ladies in the UAE which are healthy for mother-to-be and baby?
During pregnancy it’s important to eat good and healthy foods, especially before exercising. Generally you should eat around the same foods as you normally should and would, but increase calories as pregnancy progress. A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2004 found, that energy requirements in healthy women increased negligibly in the 1st trimester, by 350 cal/day in the 2nd trimester and by 500 cal/day in the 3rd trimester.
My advise is that pregnant women have an appropriately sized meal containing proteins, carbs and fats around 2-3 hours before exercising and remember to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water both before, during and after exercise. If you need advise on healthy eating check some of the ‘Diet and Nutrition’ articles in the UAE Personal Trainers Website.
Before I became pregnant I didn’t exercise regularly, does this mean it is still safe for me to start now? Will there be extra stress/pressure on my body?
Pregnant women who were previously inactive need to start at a slow level and progress gradually, but are generally also advised to exercise.
During pregnancy both the mother and developing baby are at a higher risk of exercise induced complications due to physiological and morphological changes, which is why it is advised to start out slowly, monitor all progress and refer to a appropriate pregnancy related health care professional if any concerns arise. The guidance of a qualified professional personal trainer who specializes in pre-natal training can help you get into a safe, effective and comfortable exercise program during your pregnancy.
Does pre-natal exercise help or have any effect on labour and delivery?
No promises, but exercise may have an effect on labour and delivery.
There seems to be a connection between women who exercise and women who have an easier and shorter labor and delivery.
Are there any exercises or training equipment that should be avoided during the pre-natal stage of pregnancy, either at the gym or home?
It is advised that pregnant women avoid high impact, jerky or ballistic exercises, sudden changes of intensity an positions, standing for too long, exercises that involves breath holding, exercises that places significant loads on the abdominals and pelvic floor such as crunches and planks, stretching beyond comfortable range of movement, contact sports, exercise intensities or duration that makes the pregnant woman feel too hot and/or exhausted, exercises involving lying supine from 16 weeks onward.
Also you should avoid any exercise that may cause or exacerbate any pregnancy related condition.
In your experience as a Dubai personal trainer do you think exercising and training during pregnancy can help the body recover/get back in shape quicker?
Yes, there is definitely a link between the women who exercise during pregnancy and women who recover faster after giving birth. I’ve even seen some women who only started exercising during pregnancy but then got in the best shape of their lives after giving birth and continuing with their exercise routines.
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