Exercise plays an integral role in maintaining overall well-being, especially for expectant and new mothers. It can help you feel better emotionally and physically, prevent excess weight gain, prevent and manage gestational diabetes, relieve stress and help you sleep better. Incorporating fitness into a regular routine during pregnancy can help prepare the body for childbirth and aid in a quicker recovery after childbirth. Before you start or practice any exercise regimen during pregnancy, it’s important to talk with your doctor to see which exercises will work best for you.
Exercises that are good to practice during pregnancy tend to be low impact since your center of gravity is shifting, making balancing more difficult. Some of the best exercises to prepare you for pregnancy, birth, and postpartum are:
- Stationary biking
- Prenatal exercise classes
- Prenatal yoga
- Kegel exercises- Kegel exercises strengthen the pelvic floor by squeezing and releasing the muscles. Kegels can help the baby get into best position for delivery, make pushing and birth easier, give you more control during crowning – less tearing and improved healing of the perineum, greater pleasure during intercourse and they can help urinary incontinence.
Picking activities that you enjoy and exercising with a friend can help you stick to a regular schedule. During exercise, don’t forget to drink plenty of water. Don’t forget to warm up muscles and stretch before getting started, and be sure to cool down at the end of the workout. Pay attention to what your body is doing and learn the warning signs of preterm labor and other complications that could occur so you can recognize them and call your doctor right away.
Warning signs to look for include:
- Vaginal bleeding
- Dizziness or feeling faint
- Chest pain
- Severe headache
- Uterine contractions
- Decreased fetal movement
- Fluid leaking from the vagina
Cone Health Women’s Hospital offers weekly, regularly scheduled prenatal and postnatal yoga, fitness, conditioning, strength and toning classes lead by specially certified fitness. To find out more about the prenatal and postnatal health classes offered through Cone Health Women’s Hospital, visit Conehealthybaby.com.
Kristin Kerbo is a registered nurse and childbirth educator at Cone Health Women’s Hospital. She is also a certified CPR instructor by The American Heart Association. Kerbo received a Bachelor of Science in nursing from Clemson University in 1998. She was certified as a childbirth educator through the Academy of Certified Birth Educators in 2009.
Cone Health offers "Fit 4 Two" Prenatal and Postnatal Fitness and Yoga classes where you can learn safe and effective exercises that help build strength, flexibility, and help reduce stress during pregnancy or help you get back into shape after the baby is born.
The class schedule is as follows:
After Baby Fitness and Conditioning - Tuesdays: 9:30a.m.
Prenatal Fitness and Conditioning - Tuesdays: 10:45a.m.
After Baby Strength and Toning - Thursdays: 9:30a.m.
Prenatal Strength and Toning - Thursdays: 10:45a.m.
After Baby yoga - Fridays: 9:30a.m.
Prenatal Yoga - Fridays: 10:45a.m.