Running: Step 7 ... Exercising with a Baby Bump

by Mike Naylor

(continued from home page)

As a father of four healthy kids, I learned from the folks at the Family Life Center, the first trimester is the most crucial to your baby's development. During this period, your baby's body structure and organ systems develop. Unfortunately, most miscarriages and birth defects occur during this period, and hopefully, as the medical field continues to learn more about the onset of these conditions, the more predictable they will become and the better chances of eliminating them will be apparent.

In addition, your body also undergoes major changes during the first trimester. These changes often cause a variety of symptoms, including nausea, fatigue, breast tenderness and frequent urination. Although these are common pregnancy symptoms, every woman has a different experience. For example, while some may experience an increased energy level during this period, others may feel very tired and emotional.

During the first trimester if you are overly tired, unpredictably nauseous, and scared that each move you make will harm the baby, you should then consider focusing on working out during the initial three months to help increase your energy levels and minimize many pregnancy induced discomforts.

You should develop a simple workout plan. If you are a non-exerciser, start with brisk walking or by taking up a prenatal yoga class under supervision of a certified instructor. Always make it a point to spend at least 30 minutes working out during the initial months and gradually increase your time and pace with the kind of regimen you follow. Always warm up before you proceed to exercise. Either walk on treadmill at a slow pace if you are doing weights at gym, or go for a stroll in the park to prepare your body for exercise. While working out at the gym, ensure that you take rest between every two sets and drink water to keep hydrated during exercise.

The second trimester of pregnancy is often called the "golden period" because many of the unpleasant effects of early pregnancy disappear. During the second trimester, you're likely to experience decreased nausea, better sleep patterns and an increased energy level. However, you may experience a whole new set of symptoms, such as back pain, abdominal pain, leg cramps, constipation and heartburn, and somewhere between 16 weeks and 20 weeks, you may feel your baby's first fluttering movements.

Working out during the second trimester of pregnancy generally feels great! After battling nausea and fatigue during the first trimester, most women feel a surge of energy, stability, and overall fitness. You need to make the most of this energizing phase of pregnancy. Consider adding the following to your fitness plan:

  • Side raise: Lie on your left side on the floor, with your hips and knees bent at 45 degrees. Keeping your feet in contact with each other, raise your right knee as high as you can without moving your pelvis. Pause, and then return to the starting position. Repeat on other side.
  • Tummy sucking: Inhale like you have lungs in your stomach. Exhale as you use your abdominal muscles to pull your belly button toward your spine. Hold for 2 or 3 seconds and release. (You should be able to talk while you hold the position.) That’s one rep.
  • Kegel exercise: Sit comfortably on a chair or bed, squeeze your pelvic floor muscle tightly, and hold for 8 seconds. To feel this muscle, imagine you are trying to stop yourself from peeing. Hold like you have to control peeing.
  • Sitting cycling: Sit on a chair and lift a single leg and do cycling 20 times. Repeat with the other leg.
  • Squats with a chair: Do simple squats holding a chair so that you cannot lose balance. Hold the back of the chair and place your feet apart. Lower yourself by bending the knees while sticking out your bottom and leaning forward at the waist. Squat till your thighs are parallel to the ground and then return to original position.

You have now reached your final stretch of pregnancy and are probably very excited and anxious for the birth of your baby. Some of the physical symptoms you may experience during this period include shortness of breath, hemorrhoids, urinary incontinence, varicose veins and sleeping problems. Many of these symptoms arise from the increase in the size of your uterus, which expands from approximately 2 ounces before pregnancy to 2.5 pounds at the time of birth.

This phase can be very boring, as your body might feel heavy and you could be too tired with all that weight you have gained. There will be so many days during the final weeks of your pregnancy when even shoulder stretches or moving arms and ankles will feel like too much work for your body — and that’s normal. Keep in mind that even a little exercise in the third trimester will help you feel fresh and energetic, so do as much as your body allows.

Here are some less stressful exercises you might want to consider as you now can see the finish line in the distance:

  • Butterfly stretch: Sit with your legs outstretched. Bend the right leg and place the right foot as far up on the left thigh as possible. Place the right hand on top of the bent right knee. Hold the toes of the right foot with the left hand. While breathing in, gently move the right knee up towards the chest. Breathing out, gently push the knee down and try to touch the floor. The trunk should not move. Movement of the leg should be achieved by the exertion of the right arm. Repeat with left leg. Slowly practice about 10 up and down movements with each leg. Do not strain your body.
  • Sleeping abdominal stretch pose: Lie on your back. Interlock the fingers of both hands and place hands beneath the head. Bend your knees, keeping the soles of your feet on the floor. Move your head in other direction; repeat on the other side.
  • Horizontal cycling: Lying down on a mat or bed, you can air cycle with both legs.
  • Side raises: Lying on your side, lift the leg which is upside. Lift up and down, then change to the other side and repeat.

Finally, although these are safe exercises that you can do during your pregnancy, you need to keep basic precautions in mind:

  • Let your doctor know about your workout plan.
  • Don’t lie on your stomach.
  • Wear comfortable clothing.
  • Keep yourself hydrated.
  • Don’t do any jumping exercises.
  • Listen to your body.
  • Do not continue doing anything which is uncomfortable.
  • Consult your doctor if you feel even a little uncomfortable.

Have a great holiday season, and I look forward to hearing from you on your New Year resolutions.

Love you all, Coach Mike

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