The Tribune - Spectrum

Sunday, June 18, 2000

Pregnant and healthy
By Anup Deb Nath

BEING fit is always important whether you are in your 20s, 30s or older.

The fact that you need exercise does not change but the type of exercise that will suit you or is ideal for you can differ. The same is the case of when you are pregnant.

Being active during your pregnancy can benefit your figure and health in general and it is to your benefit to keep your muscles in good condition when you are pregnant. Most doctors agree that plenty of fresh air and exercise are not only important but essential to a woman’s well being especially during pregnancy. It is, of course, important tot remember that violent exercise of any sorts, like lifting heavy objects etc., should be avoided. Ideally you should try to carry on with a normal routine for as long as possible when you are pregnant. 

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A physically fit mother-to-be has fewer complications. However if your doctor recommends bed rest or advises against any movement or activity then it is best to follow the doctor’s advise. In case your doctor feels that there is no harm in your being active and sticking to a regular routine, try to do so. There are also gentle exercises that can be done without any harm but which will certainly keep you feeling better. There should be an emphasis on trying to do some exercises for your feet while sitting down. One good exercise is to sit on a chair and rest your heels on the floor bend your feet upwards from the ankle.

Bend your feet down again. Repeat often during the day. The feet take the brunt of the extra weight which you put on during pregnancy and they need exercise.

Another way is to rest your heels on the floor and curl your toes and release them.

One of the best ways in the later stages of pregnancy to give your feet a break is to sit with your feet up. Sitting with the feet raised higher than the hips relieves the pressure on the pelvic veins and aids circulation in the legs and helps prevent varicose veins and swollen ankles, all of which are common problems in the later stages of pregnancy. Eating healthy food is also essential to ensure that you and the baby remain healthy and that you do not put on unnecessary weight. Often it is found that women who gain an excessive amount of weight during their pregnancies find it very difficult to lose it once the baby is born.

On the other hand, trying to go on a diet when you are pregnant out of fear of putting on too much weight is not a good idea. This will do you more harm than good. It is best to eat nutritious and healthy food to ensure that both you and the baby can get the best. Studies done in Scotland, Holland, Thailand and Gambia show that women who are fairly active and well fed fare better during pregnancy. Studies indicate that when women eat what they want rather than what is told to them, they tend to raise their calorie intake very marginally — by about 100 calories a day — with the exception of a brief period around the middle of the pregnancy when the calorie intake goes up more. These studies show that the concept of ‘eating for two’ is outdated and as long as you eat healthy and remain active there should be nothing to worry about.

Medical experts agree that a physically fit mother-to-be has fewer complications during pregnancy and fewer other pregnancy related problems. Being active during your pregnancy means less weight gain, less swelling of the feet and ankles, fewer back problems and far less exhaustion. Being physically fit before and during pregnancy also prepares a woman for labour and also makes it easier to get back into shape once the baby is born.

Pregnant women need to be careful if they exercise and they should check with their doctors first. Try to keep your workout simple and keep in mind that you will not be able to and should not try to do what you did earlier in your exercise routine as you could harm yourself. Modified exercises which are suited to your condition are the best. Walking, swimming and some yoga exercises are recommended while you are pregnant. Try to stay alert for any problems such as abdominal cramps, dizziness etc during exercising and stop if there seems to be any problem. Try to drink plenty of water while exercising.

Keeping a happy mind and a fit body even while you are pregnant will help you to enjoy your pregnancy.