Staying Healthy During Pregnancy (Part 3)
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes (that's 2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week if you're not already highly active or doing vigorous-intensity activity. If you are very active or did intense aerobic activities before becoming pregnant, you may be able to keep up your workouts, as long as your doctor says it's safe. Before beginning — or continuing — any exercise regimen talks to your doctor first.
Exercising during pregnancy has been shown to be extremely beneficial. Regular Exercise can help:
• prevent excess weight gain
• reduce pregnancy related problems, like back pain, swelling, and constipation
• improve sleep
• increase energy
• improve outlook
• prepare for labor
• lessen recovery time
Low-impact, moderate-intensity exercise activities (such as walking and swimming) are great choices. You can also opt for yoga or Pilates classes, DVDs, or videos that are tailored for pregnancy. These are both low-impact and work on strength, flexibility, and relaxation.
But you should limit high-impact aerobics and avoid certain sports and activities that pose a risk of falling or abdominal injury. Typical limitations include contact sports, downhill skiing, and horseback riding.
It's also important to be aware of how your body changes. During pregnancy, your body produces a hormone known as relaxin, which is believed to help prepare the pubic area and the cervix for the birth. The relaxin loosens the ligaments in your body, making you less stable and more prone to injury.
So, it's easy to overstretch or strain yourself, especially the joints in your pelvis, lower back, and knees. In addition, your center of gravity shifts as your pregnancy progresses, so you may feel off-balance and at risk of falling. Keep these in mind when you choose an activity and don't overdo it.
Whatever type of exercise you choose, make sure to take frequent breaks and remember to drink plenty of fluids.
And use common sense — slow down or stop if you get short of breath or feel uncomfortable. If you have any questions about doing a certain sport or activity during your pregnancy, talk to your health care provider for specific guidelines.
It's important to get enough sleep during your pregnancy. Your body is working hard to accommodate a new life, so you'll probably feel more tired than usual. And as your baby gets bigger, it will be harder to find a comfortable position when you're trying to sleep.
Lying on your side with your knees bent is likely to be the most comfortable position as your pregnancy progresses. It also makes your heart's job easier because it keeps the baby's weight from applying pressure to the large blood vessels that carry blood to and from your heart and your feet and legs. Lying on your side can also help prevent or reduce varicose veins, hemorrhoids, and swelling in your legs.
Some doctors specifically recommend that pregnant women sleep on the left side. Because one of those big blood vessels is on the right side of your abdomen, lying on your left side helps keep the uterus off of it. Lying on your left side optimizes blood flow to the placenta and, therefore, your baby.
Ask what your health care provider recommends. In most cases, lying on either side should do the trick and help take some pressure off your back.
To create a more comfortable resting position either way, prop pillows between your legs, behind your back, and underneath your belly.
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