Tips to Keep in Shape

Labour is as the word states – Hard Work, and it generally lives up to its name. However, to keep labour in perspective, it may be tiring but it is the best-rewarded work you will ever undertake.

Knowing that there is hard work ahead of you adequately prepare for it. Would you ever consider running a marathon without getting fit – you would probably laugh and say “no never” – but this is exactly what many people do about labour. You need to get your body into top form to give your baby and yourself the best experience during birth.

Exercise is very important to prepare your body for labour. Swimming is one of the best forms of exercise during pregnancy, as the water supports the heavy weight of pregnancy. You can’t strain your muscles nor overheat during this form of exercise. Cycling is also fine, but be aware that during pregnancy your centre of gravity changes and you become clumsy and off balance so you need to be careful you don’t fall off your bike. Walking is beneficial and accessible to all. Walk briskly to raise your heart rate to build up your fitness. For those regularly attending the gym, some exercises might need to be modified – especially the abdominal exercises. It is important to be careful with the abdominals as where the muscles join in the front, separation of the muscles can easily occur.

  • Exercise at least 3 times a week, for 20 – 30 minutes each time
  • Start your exercise routine with a 5 minute warm up and end with a 5 minute cool-down period
  • Wear comfortable clothes that offer support, including a support bra and good athletic shoes
  • Drink plenty of water whilst doing your exercises
  • After 16 weeks of pregnancy, avoid exercises that require you to lie on your back
  • Never allow your body temperature to rise above 38 degrees C

Stop exercising ad see your doctor if you start to experience any of the following

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Dizziness
  • Extreme shortness of breath
  • Heart palpitations
  • Faintness
  • Abnormally fast heart rate
  • Back pain
  • Pubic pain

Research has shown that during labour, women who have exercised during pregnancy have a –

  • 35% decrease in the need for pain relief
  • 75% decrease in the incidence of maternal exhaustion
  • 50% less likely to be induced and need intervention in labour
  • 55% decrease in the need for an episiotomy
  • 75% decrease in the need for forceps and caesarean sections
  • Regular exercise has been seen to shorten labour by a third
  • Improved rate of recovery post birth
  • Weight bearing exercises help with improving bone density
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