Weight Training During Pregnancy - Exercises
For Pregnant Women
Physicians and personal trainers in the past have been cautious
to encourage strength training or resistance training for pregnant women. This
is due to the physiological changes taking place within the body and the concern
of complications to the mother and or fetus during pregnancy.
a healthier pregnancy and labor for mothers and fetuses is a topic that has had
many nation wide discussions and debates. In recent years doctors and training
professionals shied away from encouraging any exercise training regimens for fear
that overheating or even moderate exercise could harm the fetus. This idea seems
to be slowly changing due to new research and data collection, which has provided
research pointing to the idea that previous recommendations seem to have been
overly conservative. Both the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
and the American College of Sports Medicine conclude that when taking a reasonable
approach to exercise training, exercise is safe for women with uncomplicated pregnancies.
These reputable sources also suggested that there are potential benefits to infant
health from maternal exercise.
The "marathon of labor"
may want to be considered prior to conception when a woman would be free of the
natural limitations of pregnancy. The value of a prenatal resistance-training
program is that of maintenance during pregnancy rather than that of development.
Given that this early training does not always occur, it is possible for proper
strength training to play a role in the promotion of health and well being for
the pregnant woman and her baby as well as promote a less painful labor and recovery.
It must be noted that women who have not exercised regularly should be cautious
to start an exercise program once they become pregnant. In addition, medical clearance
is prudent for anyone who is pregnant or who has had a previous complication during
When strength/resistance training is done correctly
with proper observation and assistance, current information indicates that physically
fit women who continue to perform weight bearing exercise throughout pregnancy
and lactation at or above fifty percent of their pregnancy levels gain less weight,
deposit and retain less fat, feel better, have shorter and less complicated labors
and recover more rapidly than women who either stop exercising or who do not exercise
at all. During labor many women reported muscular aches the day following delivery.
Prenatal resistance training can help decrease this muscular soreness.
issue dealing with the unborn child is the danger of umbilical cord entanglement.
A study observed in 1995 by Dr. Clapp and associates showed that because of strength
training, cord entanglement did not increase, rather it significantly decreased.
This same study also looked at the meconium to see how many babies were stressed
enough to move their bowels during labor, and again the number was much lower
in the babies of the exercising moms.
in a woman's body during pregnancy are related to weight changes in the uterus,
fetus, breasts as well as the most crucial, an increase in lumbar lordosis (swayback),
which causes a shift in a woman's center of gravity. Metabolic rate increases
resulting in a greater heat production, which maintains fetal temperature above
maternal level. During exercise the heat production is increased, therefore the
need for staying hydrated while training is important, as is avoiding exercise
in hot, humid weather. Exercise acts in conjunction with pregnancy to increase
heart rate, stroke volume, and cardiac output. However, during exercise, blood
is diverted from the abdominal viscera, including the uterus, to supply exercising
muscles. The decrease of blood flow in the vessels of the abdomen can reach fifty
percent, which raises theoretic concerns about fetal hypoxemia (low on oxygen).
Increases in oxygen consumption are noted in pregnant women, presumably as an
adaptive response to the increased oxygen requirement of the fetus. With mild
exercise pregnant women have a greater increase in respiratory frequency and oxygen
consumption to meet their greater oxygen demand.
exercise program can effectively prepare the musculature of the legs, back, and
pelvic region to support the additional weight gained during pregnancy. Research
also shows that women who maintain physical activity during pregnancy have more
energy and feel better throughout gestation, gain less subcutaneous fat, have
fewer cases of gestational diabetes, less incidence of post term and cesarean
delivery, deliver fewer large-for-gestational-age(LGA) infants, have slightly
leaner babies and experience fewer complications of delivery. This also includes
fetal distress, presence of meconium and low APGAR scores.
a study involving well-conditioned pregnant women and resistance training, no
premature onset of labor or premature rupture of the membranes was noted. Compared
with other women, the well-conditioned women were found to have shorter labors,
less need for obstetric intervention and fewer signs of fetal compromise. Others
have demonstrated that those who regularly exercise are less likely to require
epidural analgesia. Women tend to also experience extreme muscle fatigue and soreness
after labor. Prenatal resistance training can help to alleviate this muscle discomfort.
Another interesting research fact relates to osteoporosis in females. Females
make up 80% of the more than 50 million cases of osteoporosis and that women experience
a measurable lactation-induced loss of bone density in the postpartum period.
Resistance training during pregnancy helps build extra bone density to offset
these loses and reduces the risk of osteoporosis.
suggests that the thirty-degree supine posture is to be avoided during late gestation,
all of the research that has been reviewed states that women who are entering
their second trimester and later should avoid all exercises that require lying
on the back. The major concerns are that when women are on their backs the blood
flow to the uterus is reduced, and also compresses the vena cava (the vein that
carries blood to the heart), which decreases cardiac output and reduces blood
flow to the placenta.
Women should avoid any exercise that
can cause a serious fall as well as contact sports and scuba diving. Scuba diving
should be avoided due to the fact that the fetus is not protected from decompression
sickness and gas embolism, which can lead to asphyxiation of the fetus. This also
includes activities in which loss of balance may be detrimental and a risk of
abdominal trauma is high.
There are many exercises that will
help promote pregnancy and labor. The major areas and muscles of focus are the
upper/lower back, abdominal muscles and leg muscles. These help to prevent backaches,
maintain good posture, as well as support the extra weight throughout your pregnancy.
The extra workload during pregnancy makes the strength of the muscles even more
important for pregnant women. The abdominal and lower back musculature is used
to maintain posture and gate during changes in weight, center of gravity, and
increased lower back lordosis along with improving the common pregnant waddle
walk. These muscles are also crucial during the second pushing stage of labor.
Because of the increase in laxity during pregnancy a proper
warm-up routine should be performed utilizing all major muscles to help prevent
common sprains and strains during gestation. Hormonal changes are thought to induce
the laxity, which helps in assisting the softening of the pubic symphysis to accommodate
delivery. Some other important muscles that need to be targeted are hip and pelvic
adductors and abductors, for they also help in the pushing stages of labor.
are three stages or trimesters of pregnancy and the benefits of exercise are different
in early and late pregnancy. Early exercise improves the growth of the baby and
decreases maternal symptoms. Late pregnancy exercise maintains fitness, limits
weight gain, and shortens labor.
When performing abdominal
exercises during pregnancy one fact that there is no question that is true relates
to the occurrence of diastasis. Diastasis is the separation of the two halves
of the rectus abdominis muscle in the middle of the belly. This can be checked
by lying on the back with knees bent. Place fingertips one to two inches below
the bellybutton. Lift the head and feel for a ridge protruding from the midline
of the abdomen. If the first trimester has passed, to help prevent diastasis or
make it become worse when doing abdominal exercises, pillows may be used to prop
up the back so that shoulders are higher than the belly. Wrap a towel around the
waist and crisscross it in front. Grasp and pull the ends up and outward as the
abdominal muscles are contracted, exhale, and raise the head.
is nothing new. The body begins the preparation for this endeavor upon conception.
The wellness component of this endeavor for mother and child is best when viewed
as maintenance of an exercise program that began prior to conception and is modified
to deal with the changes and limitations that naturally occur during pregnancy.
There are certain techniques, positions, exercises and activities that must be
avoided when performing strength training during pregnancy.
are many positive benefits that may be reaped from strength training and exercise
during pregnancy, but they all must be supervised and monitored prior to so that
safety is ensured.