All About You
Are you exercising? Eating well? Don't forget to drink lots of water during pregnancy. It can prevent some early labor symptoms, help you stay energized, give your skin a healthy glow, and nourish your baby. Speaking of skin ... you may begin getting stretch marks and forming a linea negra, the dark line between your belly button and pubic bone. (The linea negra will disappear and the stretch marks will eventually fade.)
You may find tying your shoes and bending over are more difficult as your baby bump grows bigger. Your unborn baby's growth spurt means you may have itchiness and soreness as the skin stretches to make room. Your joints will loosen as pregnancy hormones soften them to accommodate your baby and to prepare your body for labor.
You may be discouraged to see the scale inching (or jumping!) upwards. Pregnancy is not the right time to try to lose weight or begin a rigorous exercise regime, but regular exercise can be beneficial and ease some of your pregnancy pains.
Benefits of Prenatal Exercise
Here are some pregnancy woes that exercise can lessen.
- Backaches: Walking and prenatal yoga can improve your posture, which has probably been suffering under the weight of your expanding belly.
- Edema (swelling): Exercise can boost your circulation explains Dr. William Camann, MD, director of obstetric anesthesia at the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, and coauthor of Easy Labor. Better circulation can prevent or at least ease some of your swelling.
- Stress reliever: Nothing clears your head and energizes like a brisk walk around the block.
- Labor preparer: Regular exercise strengthens your muscles for delivery day. "Exercising can help you feel more confident about labor," says Dr. Camann. And if you've kept yourself in reasonable shape, chances are losing weight post-pregnancy will be that much easier.
Always talk to your healthcare provider before beginning an exercise program (even if you were a star athlete pre-pregnancy).
Your healthcare provider may be able to recommend a prenatal class in your area. Many hospitals and health clubs offer prenatal exercise classes. Exercising with other women in similar circumstances will help keep you from becoming discouraged about weight gain and provide support. Many hospitals and health clubs offer prenatal exercise class, such as yoga and swimming.
If you haven't been exercising walking is a great way to begin during pregnancy, suggest Dr. Camann. Try walking 20 minutes several times a week to keep yourself in labor-ready condition.
Exercises to Avoid
"There are several exercises that you should avoid while pregnant," advises Dr. Camann. "Any hard contact sports like skiing, tennis, or sports that require you to make rapid changes, like in high-impact aerobics can be harmful." If you have any questions about a particular sport, ask your healthcare provider. Dr. Camann says that over his many years in practice he's seen it all—"No, you shouldn't be jumping on a trampoline when you're pregnant!"
Remember, your goal is not to lose weight but to stay fit. After all, your body won't respond to exercise in the same way while you're pregnant. Along with the added weight (25 to 35 pounds total), your heart is working harder to pump twice the blood through your system, and many of your organs—your lungs included—have less room.