During pregnancy, a woman's body undergoes adaptation at the cardiovascular, hormonal, muscular and respiratory levels to create an ideal environment for the development of the fetus. These changes will primarily affect the type and intensity of exercise that may be practised during pregnancy.
The benefits of physical activity
Physical activity and exercise during pregnancy can be beneficial, provided they're done in moderation, regularly and easily.
Women who already practised sports can continue to do so, as long as they don't intensify physical effort, don't suffer from any pathology, and that the chosen has no contraindication in regards to pregnancy. However, for women with sedentary habits, this is not the best time to start training: in those cases, the recommended regime is to go on walks for half an hour a day.
Exercise will increase the future mother's physical and psychological well-being and help her:
- Improve blood circulation;
- Prevent constipation and fatigue;
- Help to reduce stress;
- Relieve physical and emotional tensions;
- Increase appetite;
- Promote restful sleep;
- Strengthen muscles;
- Reduce the percentage of body fat;
- Relax your baby;
- Facilitate labour (tends to be faster);
- Support better contractions.
The first step for those who want to have an active pregnancy is to consult their obstetrician who, taking into account their clinical history and the possible existence of complications, assesses whether physical exercise is safe for the pregnant woman and the baby.
What sport to choose?
During pregnancy, sports that do not require intense effort or sudden movements, such as golf, walking or swimming, can be practised safely. Golf and walking facilitate blood circulation and digestion, thus helping to prevent constipation. Swimming is a sport in which many muscle groups are called upon, promoting circulation. Contact with water has an essential relaxing effect. On the contrary, extreme or contact sports, like diving, horse riding or exercises that imply positions that put pressure on the abdominal area, are not recommended.
Eight essential pieces of advice and two warnings for exercise during pregnancy
To safely practise sports during pregnancy, consider our advice:
- The pregnant woman should wear practical and loose clothing;
- Wear shoes appropriate to the type of sports you are practising, avoiding injury;
- If you are going to walk, do it on flat ground;
- After sitting or lying down, get up slowly to avoid dizziness;
- Ask your obstetrician for the daily number of calories you should ingest daily;
- Additionally, ask your doctor about what to eat before and after exercising;
- Do not eat for about 60 minutes before physical activity;
- Ensure sufficient fluid intake before, during and after exercise, so that your body remains hydrated;
- Be careful with your pace. Take this test: if you are not able to talk while you're exercising, you should slow down;
- Attention! If you feel any discomfort or pain, just stop. If the symptoms persist, talk to your obstetrician as soon as possible.
In conclusion, a well-structured physical activity program accompanied by specialized health professionals and a balanced diet can have positive effects on maternal and fetal health during pregnancy and even bring benefits to the mother at the time of childbirth - so don't give up!