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EFNEP, pregnant mom walking with family

Keeping active while pregnant can be both psychologically and physically beneficial. Labor and delivery are very stressful on the body; it will be easier for moms-to-be who have good muscle tone. Women who are physically active during pregnancy experience shorter labor and less need for Caesarean deliveries. Physical activity also will help moms-to-be get back into shape faster.

Pregnancy should not be a time for women to start activities to lose weight.The goal is just to maintain cardiovascular fitness during pregnancy.

When was the last time you took a nice, relaxing walk? With our busy lives, physical activity seems to be the thing we neglect. It is, however, something that strengthens our muscles and helps us to rid some of the stress from our lives. While you are pregnant, physical activity offers some special benefits:

  • It helps to lessen the battle fatigue many women feel during pregnancy.
  • It helps your body get ready for labor by being physically fit.
  • It helps you feel better mentally about your expanding body size.
  • It helps you sleep better. You need lots of sleep while pregnant.
  • It helps you feel better all over, and you will have a better outlook on life.

Once you have established a fitness routine, it will be easier for you to resume physical activity after your baby comes.

Guidelines

  • Check with your health care provider before beginning any physical activity routine.
  • Do not overdo it in the beginning. While it would be nice to start off climbing a mountain or running five miles, it simply is not possible. Start slowly, maybe as few as five minutes a day, and remember to always warm up and cool down.
  • Be nice to your body. The hormones of pregnancy make joints more elastic to get them ready for childbirth. Activities that require a lot of jumping and quick changes of direction may cause pain or injury. Your center of gravity also has changed. This makes activities like skateboarding and skating hard to handle and possibly dangerous.
  • Eat enough food. You need to eat to stay healthy and gain those extra pounds your baby needs. You also need food to have the energy it takes for activities.
  • Be consistent. It is better for you to exercise regularly, even if it’s just for a few minutes.
  • Warm up and cool down. Always begin with a five-minute warm-up or less-intense activity (like slow walking) to warm up the muscles. Gradually cool down for five to ten minutes.
  • Take your time. Get up slowly and gradually from the floor to avoid dizziness or fainting caused by a drop in blood pressure.
  • Drink, drink, drink! Drink lots of water before, during, and after activities to prevent dehydration. This also will help cool you down. On the average, you should try to drink at least eight glasses of water a day.
  • Stay out of the heat. Do not do any vigorous activities in hot, humid weather or during an illness when you have a fever. Choose early mornings or late evenings during hot days.
  • Watch out for danger signs. Stop your activity immediately and call your health care provider if any of these symptoms occur: pain, bleeding, dizziness, shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, back pain, pelvic pain, or difficulty walking.

This is part of the Today’s Mom program of Alabama EFNEP.

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