You can now stay healthy during this special phase in your life, by following some easy-to-do exercises.
Pregnancy is a special phase in a woman’s life. The body undergoes tremendous strain and changes; it is understood, that a fit and healthy person usually has fewer problems during pregnancy. The real hazard is inactivity, which contributes to excess weight gain, high blood pressure, aches and pains and a higher risk of Caesarean section, and gestational diabetes. Some 70 per cent to 80 per cent of women with gestational diabetes develop type II diabetes later in life, research shows, and their babies are themselves more likely to become overweight and develop diabetes. If you have no prenatal medical complications, and have led a sedentary lifestyle, try to get up and walk 30 minutes to 60 minutes a day; you can break up the time into shorter sessions. Before you start anything, check with your physician, have a proper discussion and weigh the pros and cons of exercise for your particular case. The second step should be to pay attention to your posture and alignment.
The combination of extra pregnancy weight and poor alignment puts excess pressure on the spinal bones (vertebrae), disks, ligaments and nerves. The common habit of thrusting your pelvis forward makes matters worse. You can train yourself to gently put your pelvis into alignment.
Stand barefoot in your normal posture. Do you feel your weight on the front of your feet? If so, back your hips up slightly, until you feel your weight stack evenly over your heels. Make sure that you can lift your toes. As you gain weight throughout your pregnancy, slide the hips back to take the pressure off lower back and pelvis. These simple exercises will put you on your way to fitness in this wonderful phase, and also make it a little easier on your body.
Side-Lying, Inner and Outer Thigh
These lifts strengthen the core and inner thighs. Lie on your right side, head supported by your forearm, right leg bent at a 45-degree angle, and the left leg straight. Place your opposite arm on the floor for stability. Lift the left leg to about hip height and repeat. Then bend your left knee, and rest it on top of pillows for support. Straighten your right leg and lift it as high as possible for 10 to 20 repetitions. Switch sides and repeat.
This is a great exercise to strengthen the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and improving balance. Stand parallel to the back of a sturdy chair with the hand closest to the chair resting on it, feet parallel and hip-distance apart. With your toes and knees turned to 45 degrees, pull your belly button up and in. Bend your knees, lowering your torso as low as possible while keeping your back straight. Straighten your legs to return to starting position. Do 20 to 30 repetitions total in two to four sets.
Belly Breathing strengthens your abs and pelvic for an easier delivery, and a lower risk of incontinence later. Sit with your legs crossed and lower back supported, with the hands on your belly. Keeping your back and shoulders still, slowly inhale through your nose as you expand your belly. As you exhale through your mouth, draw in your abdominal, bringing your navel toward your spine.
The writer is a Delhi-based Pilates expert, physiotherapist in functional movement patterning, core conditioning and postural alignment