Staying active during pregnancy has been such an amazing journey to me as an athlete. I feel great, I feel prepared, and I am in a constant awe of what my body can achieve. If you are thinking about exercising during pregnancy, I definitely suggest go for it! Listen to your body, but don’t forget to keep on track with your doctor, make modification where needed, but enjoy this special time! To those of you who have had negative comments especially in Pakistan, I know that you are not alone. Be strong knowing that you are creating a happy, healthy environment mentally & physically for both you and your baby!
As long as you can talk during exercise and don’t feel out of breath, then the intensity is most likely appropriate for you. You’ll probably need to reduce your intensity level as your pregnancy progresses, but it’s still okay to exercise to the point where you feel like you’re getting a good cardiovascular workout.
On the other hand, there are enthusiastic exercisers & elite athletes who often meet and exceed general exercise recommendations for pregnancy workout.
Effects of Exercise on the Fetus
When it comes to the effect of exercise on the fetus, the three areas of concerns we need to take into consideration.
The most common concern for the fetus during high-intensity exercise is hyperthermia, a higher-than-normal body temperature. Exercise considerably increases body temperature, and the fetus can take on the mother’s heat, possibly leading to birth defects. It is during the first trimester that the fetus cannot regulate its own body temperature and is most susceptible to the mother’s. In this period, pregnant athletes should be cautious about exercising in hot conditions and for long durations. They should wear light-colored, breathable fabrics to keep cool and should drink water throughout the day and during exercise bouts; their urine should be diluted to the point that it is virtually clear in color.
At any stage during pregnancy, an extreme blow to or fall onto the abdomen can damage the placenta. Later in pregnancy, as the fetus moves higher in the womb and is unprotected by the pelvis, there is greater risk of damage to the fetus itself by direct impact during any sport.
The duration, type and intensity of the exercise that pregnant athletes perform can all affect the fetus’s heart rate. However, if a pregnant athlete trains regularly, the fetus will be better conditioned and able to adapt to the stresses of exercise. The concern arises when a woman performs extreme levels of exercise on an inconsistent basis: Then, the effect can be detrimental to the fetus.
Effects of Exercise on the Mother
The three major concerns for pregnant athletes in training are dehydration, hyperthermia and hypoglycemia.
I have read and ask few experts recommends that pregnant athletes drink sufficient water throughout the day and especially when training. Because blood volume decreases during the early stages of pregnancy, pregnant athletes should drink at least 1.5 litres water intake. A pregnant woman should also not exercise when dehydrated. My one way to tell if you’re sufficiently hydrated is to check the color of their urine, which should be almost clear.
Also, pregnant athletes should take their temperature immediately before and after their longest workout (before they cool down).
Blood sugar levels can fall rapidly during prenatal training sessions. This is very common during pregnancy, which I also faced and still concern about my diet with less sugar intake. Doctors are usually recommends that pregnant athletes should monitor their blood sugar levels weekly or at least monthly. The goal is to maintain a level above 55 to 60 milligrams per deciliter.
It is ultimately up to each woman with the help and advice of her physician and fitness professionals to decide the fitness path to take during pregnancy.