Benefits of Exercise During Pregnancy and the Postpartum PeriodPosted January 5, 2016 by Stacy Bolzenius
Regular physical activity is an important part of maintaining optimal health during pregnancy and after giving birth. It is important for women’s health experts to recommend safe exercises and other physical activities for pregnant women and those who are in the postpartum period. This helps improve the chance of a healthy pregnancy and recovery after childbirth.
Benefits of Exercise
Exercising throughout pregnancy and after childbirth is associated with several benefits. It can help women stay physically fit and lower the amount of weight gain during pregnancy. Physical activity might also decrease the risk of preeclampsia or the risk of needing to undergo a Cesarean section during labor and delivery, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Exercise can also help women with gestational diabetes maintain healthy blood glucose levels, which lowers the risk of complications, such as high birth weight. Regular physical activity can also help women recover in a shorter amount of time after giving birth, allowing them to resume normal activities sooner.
Several types of activities are considered safe to do while pregnant, including walking, swimming and low-impact aerobics. Other types of exercises are generally safe to do with certain modifications, such as yoga and Pilates. These physical activities offer women an effective way to exercise during and after pregnancy for improved physical health.
Precautions for Physical Activity
Although exercise offers a number of benefits during pregnancy and after giving birth, there are some important precautions to warn patients about. This reduces the risk of potential harm to the mother and fetus during pregnancy and to the mother during recovery. Women who were not used to following a regular exercise routine before pregnancy or those who are obese should begin with lighter physical activity and gradually increase their exertion levels under their doctor’s guidance. In general, women should also avoid recreational activities or exercises that increase the risk of abdominal trauma. Activities that should not be done include hot yoga, contact sports and downhill skiing and other sports with a higher risk of falling.
Women who are pregnant should be made aware of warning signs to watch for while exercising. Pregnant women should stop exercising and call their doctor if they experience: vaginal bleeding, painful contractions that occur regularly and amniotic fluid leakage. Women should also stop working out and let their doctor know if they feel dizzy, get a headache, have trouble breathing, have chest pain, experience muscle weakness that affects coordination and balance or have swelling or pain in one or both calves.
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