Exercise during Pregnancy: 30-Minute Daily Exercises for Natural Birth

Perform an exercise during pregnancy. It is necessary for both the mother and fetus. The pregnant mother has to prepare for the energy she'll need during childbirth and control her weight so that she can give the fetus sufficient oxygen. So knowledge of some exercise during pregnancy that is beneficial for a mom-to-be is essential.

The Advantages of Exercising during Pregnancy

Relieve stress

According to recent studies, a type of hormone called endorphin increases during exercise, putting the mom-to-be in a better mood. As a result, if you exercise a little every day and diligently keep up with the routine, you'll be able to enjoy a happy pregnancy.

Prepare for childbirth

exercise during pregnancy

Giving birth is similar to running a marathon. Beyond will power, you'll also require stamina. Exercising increases the lungs’ capacity and strengthens muscles - all of which are helpful during childbirth. However, remember not to over-exercise to prevent uterine contraction.

Encourage healthy sleep routine

Appropriate exercising can help burn calories and lets you fall asleep faster and enjoy better sleep quality if you're exhausted. However, it's not advisable to over-exercise before bedtime or you'll find it tough to fall asleep instead. It's best to exercise 3-4 hours before bedtime.

Help develop fetus' brains

When doing aerobic exercises, the mother's body is filled with oxygen which will be transmitted to the fetus via the umbilical cord. To aid in the development of the fetus' brains, nutrition and oxygen should be in abundant supply. When fed with an adequate supply of oxygen, brain cells will grow healthily.

Increase energy and reduce anxiety

When exercising, the heart and blood vessels will become more elastic and you'll not be prone to exhaustion. Moreover, exercising also helps relieve and strengthen tight muscles. You'll develop a higher pain threshold when besieged with various types of pain during pregnancy. Stretching exercises can ease backache. When walking, you promote better blood circulation. If you swim, you strengthen abdominal muscles. With strong muscles, you'll find it a breeze to do everything and not tire easily.

Banish boredom during the long pregnancy

Carrying a child for nine months is preparing you for the ultimate test of childbirth. In the beginning of your pregnancy, you'll feel very excited and will be announcing the good news to everyone you meet. After that, the excitement will gradually wear off and you'll have to put up with the long period of waiting.

When you're 6 to 7 months pregnant, you'll start to become frustrated with your pregnancy. There will be weight increase, restriction in activities and boredom with daily life sets. You may feel that your body is merely a house and wish to be rid of it. Doing aerobic exercises during this period can help dispel such frustration.

Faster recovery after childbirth

You should exercise if you want to control your weight and manage your energy during pregnancy. Exercising lets the body be more flexible, gets the uterus to contract faster after childbirth and you can get back your pre-pregnancy body faster.

Aerobic Exercises that You can do Readily

Abdominal breathing

Oxygen is necessary for stress relief. Through deep breathing, you can get sufficient oxygen into your body. Place one hand on the belly button, start breathing in deeply from beneath the diaphragm. While inhaling, silently count to 5. When you feel warm air suddenly filling up the whole lungs area, exhale slowly to the count of 5. Repeat this breathing exercise twice and breathe normally for 1-2 minutes after that. Then start the deep breathing exercise again. Alternate deep breathing and normal breathing for 2-3 times.

Sphincter muscle exercises

Sphincter muscle exercises effectively trains and strengthens vaginal muscles which are most exerted during childbirth. Just like how you would hold your pee, suddenly contract your vaginal muscles. Sphincter muscles are near the vagina and rectum, so try as much as possible to maintain the contraction for a long time before releasing the hold. You can contract the sphincter muscles for more than 25 times daily.

Stretching exercises

The ligaments and joints become soft during pregnancy and are easily bruised. Doing stretching exercises in a relaxed way daily can strengthen the muscles around ligaments and joints. Raise your hands to the top of your head and then spread open. Bend your waist and rotate a full round as if drawing a circle with your outstretched hands. When you drop your head, also rotate a full round as if drawing a circle. Move your shoulders upwards, backwards and downwards in a circular manner. With toes pointing straight, rotate your ankle 10 times. Then straighten your toes and point them in the direction of your knees 10 times. Bend backwards with both hands still up and outstretched as if you're trying to catch something. You should raise your hands as high as possible and hold the pose for a few seconds. Then slowly put your hands down.

Abdominal exercises

When you're into 4 months pregnancy, lie down properly and spread your legs out to the side. Raise your head as much as you can and use your chin to touch your breast. Hold this pose for 3 seconds each time you do it to relieve anxiety. Do this exercise twice daily and five times each round. Moreover, when standing, sitting or lying down, pulling in your stomach will help tighten abdominal muscles. Hold the abdominal muscles contraction for up to three counts before slowly resuming the original position. You can de-stress in this way.

Leg exercises

This exercise can promote blood circulation in the legs as well as minimize swelling and tension in the calves. Lie on your side with your head on the pillow. Bend the leg that is nearer to the bed base and straighten the other leg. Straighten your toes and lift your leg upwards. You should feel comfortable in the stretch and not push yourself too hard. Lift and lower your leg four times. Then turn your body to the other side and repeat the exercise on the other leg.

Muscle relaxing exercises

Stress causes muscles to tense up. If your muscles are tense, relieving emotional tension may be difficult. If you're familiar with muscle relaxing exercises, you'll be able to better handle those spasms of pain during pregnancy. Find a quiet spot and lie down. Concentrate on your right hand and clench your fist for five seconds before suddenly increasing the strength of clenching. Then release the clench as you release your tension. Using the same method, do this exercise on the left hand, arms, shoulders, neck, abdomen, buttocks, inner thighs, calves and legs.

Exercises Beneficial to Pregnant Women

Swimming

Swimming strengthens muscles and lets you enjoy a smooth delivery. Because of the buoyancy in water, muscles and joints discomfort disappears and occurrences of injuries decrease.
You can swim starting from 5 months pregnancy, particularly 16th week and should stop when you’re on your 9 month pregnancy. Before swimming, you must consult your doctor first. Even if it's under the safest circumstances, swimming may be harmful to pregnant women with cervical insufficiency ortoxemia of pregnancy. You may swim two or three times weekly, with every session lasting 30 minutes.

Strolling

This is the exercise most recommended to pregnant women. Strolling increases oxygen intake by 2-3 times compared to sitting down. Moreover, strolling increases blood circulation and prevents lower back pain, leg pain, venous aneurysm (localized expansion and weakening of the wall of a vein) as well as improves high blood pressure and low blood pressure. The best time for strolling is between 10am and 2pm, as this is the time of the day when the uterus contracts the least and the abdomen is at its most stable state. Daily strolls are good and if possible, take strolls when the air is fresh and in a place where trees are abundant.

Exercises You Shouldn't Do

Chest expansion exercises

As these exercises will cause mammary glands to expand and breasts to enlarge, they're not suitable for pregnant women. They'll put tremendous pressure on body parts such as spine, waist, back, pelvis, buttocks and knees, so it's best to avoid doing them during pregnancy.

Mountaineering

During pregnancy, the progesterone known as luteotrophic hormone will cause ligaments to become loose. Mountaineering requires carrying a heavy backpack and will injure the back ligaments.
Sit-ups

As this exercise will over-exert the abdomen, it should be avoided. When doing sit-ups, the abdomen's longitudinal muscles have to support the uterus while still having to be crunched in the middle. The motion of lying down and heaving up the upper body widens the bending area, causing slow recovery of abdominal muscles after childbirth.

How about these Exercises?

Tennis

Tennis is more intense than it seems and exercises that are too strenuous are best avoided. However, if you must play tennis, avoid doing it in the early and late stages of pregnancy.

Snow-skiing

As this may cause serious injuries or bad falls, it's wise not to do it at all.

Bowling

If you've plenty of time and bowl at a leisurely pace, there's no harm engaging in this activity. However, bowling doesn't do much good for the heart. In the later stages of pregnancy, it's more difficult to maintain balance so bowling should be stopped temporarily.

Cycling

If the road is smooth, it's alright to cycle for a short distance. However, mounting and dismounting the bicycle will cause tremendous pressure on the abdomen. So it's good to avoid cycling during pregnancy.

Tips: Things to Note while Exercising

• Don't be too ambitious. Stop before being too tired and avoid over-exercising.
• During the early stages of pregnancy, try not to let the body become too warm. Heat generated by the mother will be transmitted to the fetus. As the fetus doesn't know how to perspire, danger could arise.
• Try not to let your heart rate accelerate beyond 130. During pregnancy, the fetus is growing and consumes a big portion of oxygen. If the fetus' heart rate accelerates, oxygen supply will become problematic.
• Avoid vigorous exercises as much as possible. When exercising, limit the vigorous part to 15-20 minutes to minimize increase in body temperature and muscle fatigue.

Whatever exercise during pregnancy you’re up to, take extra care so as not to put your baby at risk.

Sandra Henderson
 

Editor-in-chief at Babiology and a proud mother of four passionate about sharing pregnancy and baby growth knowledges

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