The right advice for training and staying in shape when pregnant.
Pregnancy doesn’t mean you have to stop exercising, unless you have conditions with a particular associated risk that demand complete rest. On the contrary, in most cases it’s positively encouraged from the very first months because it helps muscle tone and elasticity, improves circulation and combats water retention in the legs. Sport during pregnancy must be done in moderation however, above all in the first trimester when you feel the tiredness and hormonal changes the most.
Mums-to-be can go to the gym during pregnancy, provided that they stick to activities specifically designed for their situation. Exercises that strengthen abdominal and lumbar muscles are particularly helpful for maintaining correct posture as the bump grows, for example. It’s also important to reinforce the muscles of the perineum, for which there are specially designed exercises. Aerobics, jumps and intensive work on muscles should instead be avoided. The sport most strongly encouraged in the first trimester is swimming. It’s relaxing, doesn’t risk injury or overexertion, and it tones the muscles as a whole.
As pregnancy proceeds, movement starts to become limited and it gets harder to breathe because the diaphragm is compressed. It’s time to stop exercises that focus on the abs, which could stimulate contractions. It’s better to focus on breathing exercises or exercises for relaxation and to strengthen the lumbar muscles, which are crucial for preventing backache. Water-based activity is particularly useful and relaxing at this stage of pregnancy. It makes the body lighter and movement easier and the hydrostatic pressure helps blood flow back to the heart, improving circulation in the legs and acting against swelling and a sense of weight.
Exercise is a good idea for pregnant women, but it’s important to avoid some mistakes that could endanger the health of mother and baby. That’s why it’s always important to consult a gynaecologist before starting any physical activity. There also has to be an appropriate change in attitude at this new stage in life, accepting that the same performance before pregnancy shouldn’t be demanded right now, and that certain signals – like contractions and shortness of breath – shouldn’t be treated lightly. Overly intensive sports or ones that could cause injury should also be avoided.