By Sonali Shivlani, an Internationally Certified Pregnancy Consultant and a Child Nutrition Counselor.
Exercising is not only beneficial for the mother but for the baby as well. But before you begin a fitness routine, getting a go-ahead from your doctor is important. And while every pregnancy is most certainly different, exercises are suggested based on a mother’s health and capacity. So before you start your fitness programme, here are three simple rules to follow:
Rule No. 1 – Don’t experiment
Remember, you need to avoid trying anything new. However, if you have been used to doing something, it’s safe to keep at it. then you can safely continue the same. However, if you have never exercised much before you got pregnant, don’t be a daredevil. Just follow the instructions given by your doctor.
Rule No. 2 – Start slow
Begin with just a few minutes every day; a few counts and reps will help you slowly and steadily build strength and resistence. There is no point in starting with something that leaves you exhausted and sore, requiring the next few days to recover.
Rule No. 3 – Take your time:
The next thing to keep in mind is to always perform the exercises slowly. There is really no rush. When you do the exercise slowly, you are better able to catch your mistakes and reduce the chances of injury.
Here are simple exercises you can do in the comfort of your home. Remember to eat a small snack before your workout and stay hydrated at all times.
Find yourself a firm and heavy chair or use the wall for support. Spread your legs wide, make sure your toes are in line with your knees, ensure that your back is tall and straight and come down at least half way till your thighs are parallel to the ground. If you are comfortable and able to go a little lower without straining yourself, then that’s fine too. Start with about eight squats on the first day and slowly increase the counts. As time goes by, you’ll find that you can easily reach about 100 squats every day.
Sit on the floor with your feet facing each other. Try and pull your feet as close to the pelvis as possible and press your knees as close to the floor as possible. You can flap your legs slowly or rapidly and you can even hold. I recommend sitting in this posture when you watch television or talk on the phone as this will get your exercise done without you having to take time out for it.
Kegels or Pelvic Floor Exercises
Imagine that you have to stop the flow of urine and you are holding your pelvic muscles tightly. This is the same movement that is required while doing the kegel exercise. Do not pull in your abdomen muscles or hold your breath. And definitely do not do it in the bathroom while trying to hold back the flow of urine. Aim at anywhere between 50 to 200 kegels every day. Simply tighten the muscles and then release. This exercise can be done anywhere, any time and in any posture.
Side Lying Leg Raise
Lie down on your side, making sure that your body is aligned in a straight line. You can start with any side as we will naturally repeat the counts for the other leg as well. Fold your lower leg as this will make your body more stable. Now raise your leg to about 90 degrees. When you lower your leg, remember not to rest it down completely. Hold a little of the tension. Repeat for eight counts and then switch sides. You can slowly increase the counts till you are doing about 32 for each leg.
Deep breathing help build lung capacity and strengthen the abdominal muscles. You’re going to need both of these during labour, especially during the second stage when you have to push your baby out. Just close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Take a long and deep breath in and ensure that it reaches all the way to your lower abdomen; then slowly exhale. Do not hold your breath at any point. It’s best to do this early in the morning and in a non air-conditioned room. Aim at doing about 50 deep breaths every day.
Cat & Camel Posture
Get on all fours making sure that your arms are below your shoulders and your knees are hip width apart. Start with arching your back like a cat and then rounding your back like a camel.
Now that you know how to perform the exercises, follow this simple routine to be well on your way to a healthy pregnancy:
Step 1: Start with a little warm up by marching in place for about five minutes. You can also circle your arms, shoulders, wrist and feet.
Step 2: Next do about 16 squats, take a deep breath and if possible repeat for another set.
Step 3: Sit on the floor and do the butterfly flaps for about 50 counts.
Step 4: Lie down on your side and do 16 leg raises for each side.
Step 5: Get on to all fours and do the cat and camel posture.
Step 6: Start the cool down by marching in place and stretching.
Step 7: Sit calmly with your eyes closed and complete your kegels.
Step 8: Finally, as you focus on your baby, practice deep breathing.