Itching to get up and about but not sure which activities are safe to do while pregnant and which ones you should avoid? MH gives you the lowdown on what activity is safe and what’s not during pregnancy.
WORDS NURULHUDA SUHAIMI
Hold it right there! Are you off to do some exercise or sports with your baby bump? Before you do, are you absolutely sure that the activity you are about to engage in is safe for both you and your unborn baby? Even if you feel completely fine doing certain activities, some of those activities might pose some potential harm to the two of you. If you want to be doubly sure, you should check out our list below to see what activities are safe for you to engage in and what you should avoid.
For those of you who were not off to get some exercise or sports done, well, it might be a good idea for you to consider doing some light activities because pregnant women who exercise may actually experience more health benefits during their pregnancy compared to those who don’t. “Active expectant mothers usually have fewer complaints of fatigue, varicosities and leg swellings compared to pregnant women who do not exercise. Exercise releases endorphins, which improve mental well-being for expectant mothers and reduces insomnia, stress, anxiety and depression in active expectant mothers,” explains Dr Marianne Hendricks, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital.
If you are not sure what type of activity you would like to do, give our list below a read and get going on a safe activity for you and your bump.
If you love playing contact sports, the bad news is you should stay away from them while you are pregnant. High-impact contact sports such as hockey, netball and soccer involve the increased risk of you getting hit. Not only is this not safe for you, the possibility of your abdomen suffering a blow while playing these sports make them extremely dangerous to the health and safety of your foetus.
If you want to engage in a high-impact activity during your pregnancy, you can consider running as it is a no-contact sport, particularly if you were a regular runner even prior to getting pregnant. With any activity, just consult your doctor beforehand to ensure it is safe for you and your foetus. How much running you do really depends on what you think you can handle. If you are a regular runner, you may find you can still maintain your normal pace during the earlier months of your pregnancy. As your pregnancy progresses, you may need to reduce the intensity as well as the distance of your run.
Be sure to pay attention to what your body is telling you. If you experience any pain or feel that running is putting too much strain on your muscles and joints, stop running and give your body a rest.
Low-impact cardiovascular activities make good alternatives to high-impact activities — whether they are contact or non-contact — because there is a lower risk of injury. Nur Faradyna Putri Kamarudin, physiotherapist at Raffles Rehabilitation Centre, suggests pregnant mothers engage in moderate intensity cardiovascular exercise for at least 30 minutes, five to seven times per week. Brisk walking is a great low-impact activity you can do while pregnant, especially if you did not maintain a running schedule prior to your pregnancy. It places less strain on your knees, and as long as you wear proper footwear and not push yourself too hard, brisk walking will allow you to remain fit and healthy during your pregnancy.
Regular cycling can be safe for pregnant mothers, but it still poses a risk due to the possibility of falling and injuring you and your foetus. If you want to cycle, a good alternative is stationary cycling since the possibility of falling is much lower. Stationary cycling also makes a great substitute for running, particularly if you are not a runner because the bicycle will support your weight. This reduces the pressure on your body, making it more comfortable for you and your growing bump.
Stationary cycling is also a low-impact activity, so when you get bored
of brisk walking, you can switch up your exercise routine and hop
on the stationary bicycle instead.
This extreme water sport is a definite no-no for pregnant mothers because it can cause you to experience decompression sickness as well as a gas embolism. Decompression sickness occurs when bubbles form in the body tissue due to the sudden change in pressure when divers are ascending towards the water surface. Gas embolism, meanwhile, arises when bubbles are formed in the bloodstream, leading to the blood flow being blocked. Both these illnesses can cause severe harm to both you and your unborn baby, and they can even be fatal, so if you had any scuba
diving plans, it is best for you to postpone them.
Also, if you were thinking of just doing some regular diving, you should avoid this too. As a general rule, any sort of diving is not safe for you and your foetus.
If you still wish to do water sports, you can swim instead. Swimming is not only completely safe but also has a few benefits for pregnant mothers. “The buoyancy of water supports the pregnant woman and allows a low-impact workout without causing much strain and stress to the joints and ligaments,” says Dr Hendricks, “In addition, hydrostatic force of water pushes extravascular fluid into the blood vessels, producing an increase in blood volume that may lead to increased blood flow to the foetus.”
If you wish to reap the benefits of exercising in water but are not able to swim, Dr Hendricks recommends you walk in the swimming pool instead. This is a good form of cardio exercise for pregnant mothers as it puts less impact and pressure on your joints.
Yoga is an activity you can potentially continue throughout your pregnancy as it is gentle enough for you and your unborn baby. Not only is yoga safe, it is also beneficial for your health. “Prenatal yoga can improve sleep, reduce stress and anxiety, increase muscular fitness required for childbirth, decrease lower back pain and other pregnancy symptoms,” says Dr Hendricks.
There are many classes now that conduct prenatal yoga lessons, which will also allow you to meet other pregnant mothers. This gives you an opportunity to socialise with them as well as share useful pregnancy-related and motherhood tips with each other.