Practicing physical exercise during pregnancy brings numerous benefits to both the woman and the baby. During pregnancy, the mother's body undergoes a number of very significant changes. Several changes occur in your body composition – hormonal, cardiovascular changes and even in the locomotor system itself. These changes vary in intensity from woman to woman, which is why it is said that “each pregnancy is unique”.
Weight gain during pregnancy: Each case is different
Regarding body weight , it is estimated that a woman gains between 14 and 16 kg, depending on her initial weight. The causes for this increase are associated with several factors such as the baby's weight, placenta size, amount of amniotic fluid and increased blood volume. The amount of breast tissue, muscle mass and fat and water reserves can also have an influence.
Although weight gain is normal, it must be controlled and monitored by a doctor and nutritionist. This way, it will be easier to avoid problems such as hypertension , gestational diabetes , postpartum obesity and other complications.
Main changes in a pregnant woman's body
Hormonal changes during pregnancy are very significant. There is an increase in the production of progesterone and estrogen, and new hormones, essential for pregnancy, also appear. Human chorionic gonadotropin, chorionic somatomamotropin, oxytocin, prolactin and relaxin play a vital role in this period.
With regard to the cardiovascular system , changes occur through an increase in blood volume. There is also a decrease in systemic vascular resistance and changes in blood pressure and heart rate.
Of the aforementioned transformations, the most visible are those of the locomotor system . The pregnant woman begins to adopt a different body posture. There is an anteriorization of the center of gravity, pronounced lumbar lordosis and an increase in anterior flexion of the cervical spine. There is also a reduction in the abdominal capacity to stabilize the spine.
The importance of exercising during pregnancy
All these changes have repercussions on the pregnant woman, both physically and mentally. Therefore, although studies reveal that physical exercise during pregnancy is essential, it should always be monitored by professionals.
Practicing sports during pregnancy helps women maintain physical fitness and health. Regular practice reduces edema, improves blood circulation, relieves intestinal discomfort ( constipation ) and strengthens the abdominal wall. Exercising during pregnancy also helps to alleviate back pain and sciatica problems . Even after the baby is born, doing sport is essential to facilitate postpartum recovery.
Above all, it must be borne in mind that physical exercise during pregnancy must be guided by certified professionals . Only someone specialized will be able to adapt physical activity to this delicate period, taking into account all the particularities of pregnancy.
Although awareness of the importance of physical exercise during pregnancy is greater today, it is still not enough. There are a large number of mothers who do not practice any type of sport during pregnancy. One of the reasons given is the lack of trust in professionals.
Tips for a healthy pregnancy
Exercising during pregnancy is just one of the healthy habits to maintain throughout this stage of life. In summary, there are 3 fundamental tips that should not be forgotten:
- Maintain an active lifestyle through physical exercise;
- Look for professionals specialized in this area, to increase safety during sports;
- Have a balanced diet , seeking support from a nutritionist.
If you already exercise, congratulations! You are in the right way. Remember some important precautions you should take:
- Drink plenty of water during the day, especially during training;
- Do not exercise outdoors during peak heat and always use sunscreen ;
- Do not exceed a pulse rate of 160 bpm and slow down when you feel breathless;
- From 16 weeks onwards, do not spend long periods of time in the supine position (also called the supine position);
- You should completely stop exercising whenever you feel anything abnormal. Contractions, vaginal bleeding, tachycardia, shortness of breath and unusual pain are warning signs that you should never ignore;
- Fitness clothing should be suitable for the activity performed and your body shape. Look for pieces with chest support and appropriate pants or leggings that don't overly tighten the abdominal area.
What exercises are most suitable for pregnancy?
In general, aerobic, strength and mobility exercises and stretching should be practiced by pregnant women. It is important not to forget that each pregnancy is unique and that each week of pregnancy can cause significant changes in the woman. It is essential to adapt the focus of the work during each period.
There are 3 specific exercises that must be performed throughout pregnancy (except for medical restrictions).
- Abdominals : Forgetting the traditional abdominals (crunch, reverse, obliques and planks), there are breathing exercises that help keep the abdominal wall strong. Exercising this area prevents the belly from projecting forward and reduces pressure on the lower back. It also helps prevent low back pain and abdominal diastasis;
- Aerobic exercise: Practicing this type of exercise helps maintain physical resistance and control weight. It also prevents excessive tiredness and can help with a normal birth;
- Kegel exercises : Although they are often overlooked, these exercises are essential for strengthening the pelvic floor. Therefore, they will prove useful in a normal birth and may prevent urinary incontinence during pregnancy and postpartum.