Pregnancy brings about changes in the body functioning, shape and size which calls for certain changes in our normal physical activities. The body needs extra energy and care to create and grow a new baby inside the mother’s womb. Pregnant women therefore have to adapt to the changes that take place, both physically and psychologically.
Apart from the obvious changes in the body size and shape, there are changes in the functioning of internal organs too. The body needs more calories and energy to help in the growth of the fetus and delivery. The heart has to pump increased amount of blood to the body and the fetus. As the baby grows in size, the womb pushes the lungs slightly, as a result of which, pregnant women get tired easily, due to the slightly reduced capacity of the lungs. The blood pressure, pulse rate and temperature of a pregnant woman is slightly higher. There is suppleness in the joints, particularly around the pelvic region to prepare the body for child birth. Due to the increase in body weight in the breast and abdomen area, pregnant women have backaches, swollen and aching feet and joints. The body’s center of gravity changes and therefore, one has to be careful about maintaining balance. The hormonal and metabolic changes also cause nausea and constipation. Anemia and high blood pressure too are common during pregnancy.
Hormonal changes bring about psychological changes too, like mood swings, particularly during the first trimester. Some women experience mental stress too, specially in cases of first pregnancy.
Exercise during Pregnancy
Exercise is advised during pregnancy, but within limits set by the doctor. Continue exercising and working if there are no complications and your doctor allows it. The first aim of a pregnant woman is to keep the fetus safe from any harmful activity. Light exercises are recommended that do not exert any kind of excess pressure on the heart and the abdominal area. Vigorous exercises and activities like jumping, jogging, running, weight lifting should be avoided. Brisk walking and Yoga are the safest exercises during pregnancy. Breathing exercises distress the mind and yoga poses help the body to keep fit as well as get ready for child birth.
The body requires extra energy during pregnancy. Exercise helps increase stamina. But exercise only till you are comfortable. Stop as soon as you feel tired or experience any pain. Avoid exercises where you can loose balance and fall. Gentle exercises like yoga and walking improve blood circulation to all parts of the body and take care of the posture too. This reduces problems like backache, pain in the heels, swollen feet and constipation. Exercises of the pelvic area helps to make child birth less painful. Exercise gives the body energy to undergo the efforts required to push the baby. It lessons the labor time and increases the chances of a normal delivery.
Continuing to work and exercise during pregnancy keeps away deposition of excess fat in the body, and it becomes easier to regain shape post delivery.
Exercise reduces psychological stress too. The hormones released during exercise gives a sense of feel-good and relieves mental stress.
If you do not have the habit of regular exercise, continue the routine household chores, involving walking around the house while doing work like laundry, cooking, serving, cleaning etc. Do not overdo any works, taking care not to bend often, lift weights that put pressure on the abdomen.
Rest during Pregnancy
The body gets tired easily during pregnancy because of the extra work it has to put in to function for two people. The heart has to pump more blood at any given time and the lungs too need to work harder to carry the increased weight of the body and also cater to the needs of the fetus. Therefore, take rest in between work that involve physical activity. Physical exertion puts pressure on the heart and lungs. Panting for breath means lack of oxygen for the fetus too which will hamper its healthy growth.
Standing or sitting in the same posture for a long time will cause swelling and pain in the feet and legs. Walking fast or too much physical activity cause cramps and abdominal pains too, and may induce premature labor.
Pregnant women should sleep for 8 to 10 hours in a day. If continuous sound sleep is not possible due to discomfort, take small naps during the day. Take time off from work at frequent intervals or whenever you feel tired. Sit or lie down for sometime with the feet slightly elevated.
Women who develop high blood pressure during pregnancy are recommended bed rest to allow the heart to relax and work efficiently. If the pregnant woman is not gaining weight as much required, then too bed rest is recommended, so that all the energy of the body is channelised towards the growth of the fetus. Bed rest is essential in pregnancy related complications like bleeding or chances of miscarriage.
Listen to your body and judge for yourself how much work and exercise you can undertake and how much rest you need to keep up energy levels and also stay happy. It is best to ask your doctor to recommend exercises that are good for your specific conditions and requirements. The types of exercise too have to be changed with the advancement of pregnancy. Consult the doctor whenever you feel anything abnormal like fever, pain, cramps, constipation, too much fatigue, high blood pressure etc. Strike a balance between work and rest. The aim is to stay mentally happy relaxed, physically fit and energetic for a complication free pregnancy and child birth.