Fitness with baby bump

Fitness with baby bump

With the right guidance, pregnant women can stay fit and beautiful throughout pregnancy and after delivery, says Anjali Sareen.

There is still a large percentage of pregnant women who are apprehensive about whether or not they should exercise. In part, this attitude stems from a time when women, out of need, led a life that had them physically exerting and undertaking far more strenuous chores than we do today with many modern conveniences available to us.

So, as they progressed into their pregnancies, women were urged to ‘rest and take it easy’. However, our lifestyles have changed; in many ways technology has made daily chores easier to deal with.

At the same time, women today no longer view being pregnant as a time when they necessarily need to make drastic changes to their lives. Increasingly, they want to continue their daily lives and routines as normally as possible within the home or the office, including their existing fitness routines.

The kind of pre-natal program that a woman should engage in will depend on her fitness levels and kind of routine that she was following before her pregnancy, the stage of her pregnancy that she is starting her program, and her unique pregnancy conditions.
As your pregnancy develops, the centre of gravity in your body shifts, which changes your ability to balance.

Through different stages of the pregnancy the exercises will change and will not remain the same as when you first started. Pre-natal and post-natal programs in Pilates are very popular because of their suitability to address the specific concerns of a woman during those phases of her life. These programmes can train the body for specific postural concerns and also help focus on learning better balance and control. They also stabilize the muscles around the joints help the pregnant woman move more efficiently.

These programmes also focus on strengthening the core muscles of the body including the pelvic floor muscles. These Pilates exercises can strengthen the back, the upper body, and the hips, which very beneficial during the post-delivery period when the woman’s body is depleted of lower body strength and an overall sense of energy and wellbeing after the delivery.

Also to be noted is that Pilates focuses on creating a deeper mind-body connection that leads to not only improving the quality of movements but also results in a great feel-good factor along with better energy and a sense of well-being. This way, the woman will be able to resume a fitness program more easily post-delivery.

The Pilates exercises on the stability chair and the reformer machines are particularly suited for a pre-natal and post-natal programs. They work with spring-based resistance and have various modifications and adjustments that allow for variations in exercises as required through different stages of the pregnancy. After delivery, they allow for safe and effective programs to be built around the specific needs of the post-natal woman.

Pilates programs are also ideal for women who may not have been very active or engaged in fitness programs before their pregnancy. The movements are controlled, gentle and easily modified to specific requirements. They do not involve endless repetitions or extreme range of movements that would put the body under strain. The main benefit of Pilates is that in a completely safe manner it targets the exact muscles and functions that are of concern to a woman during pregnancy and after birth.

Benefits of pre-natal and post-natal exercises

* An overall sense of wellbeing
* Relief from backaches
* Helps sleep better
* More energy and livelihood
* Helps with changes in posture and balance
* Prepares body for post-partum changes and demands

It is admirable when we see women who started out as teenagers working out in group exercise classes, then continued to exercise and stay toned and fit while they got married, went on to do pre-natal and post-natal programs and continue to stay healthy, looking fit, and wonderful, even as their children grow up!

(The writer is a fitness trainer)

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