The Patient Family Education Unit of the Women’s Wellness and Research Center (WWRC) on Monday urged pregnant women and women who recently had their babies to exercise regularly to stay in shape and remain healthy.
“Women who exercise regularly before and during pregnancy and after having their babies are already on the way to maintaining good health for themselves and their babies. The
Dr. Najat Al Khenyab, National Health Strategy Lead for Healthy Women Leading to Healthy Pregnancies and Senior Consultant Obstetrics/Gynecology at WWRC
goal of exercising while pregnant is to maintain optimum health for the development of the baby and to help adapt to the changes in the mother’s body. Likewise, if a woman who has recently had a baby exercises, along with eating balanced and healthy meals, this could promote the loss of excess weight she gained while pregnant and she could easily get back to her pre-pregnancy body,” noted Fahima Yusuf, Acting Assistant Executive Director of Nursing-Community Midwifery & Patient Family Education at WWRC.
She further highlighted that when pregnant or post-partum women exercise regularly, it helps improve their mood and combats stress that could occur due to their pregnancy or becoming a mother. Exercising can also help reduce their likelihood of getting degenerative or chronic diseases, improves their overall general fitness and strengthens their heart and blood vessels, she added.
Pregnant women can engage in mild to moderate workouts for physical activity that is light enough for them to handle with the extra volume on their torso. If pregnant women workout for about half an hour a day, they will get the most benefits. It doesn’t have to be intense. Any type of movement like stationary cycling, walking, doing yoga, swimming, or other low-impact aerobics can help,” Fahima Yusuf said.
Yusuf also emphasized that walking is a simple but effective form of exercise that can be done almost anywhere and anytime. “Walking during pregnancy is important for a pregnant woman’s overall health and the health of her baby. Walking in pregnancy is safe and can improve the pregnancy outcome,” she highlighted saying, “When women walk for at least 30 minutes a day during pregnancy, they can strengthen their back muscles, improve their mood and fatigue level.”
The National Health Strategy Lead for Healthy Women Leading to Healthy Pregnancies and Senior Consultant Obstetrics/Gynecology at WWRC, Dr. Najat Al Khenyab, echoed similar views that low impact exercise is good for pregnant women, but she cautions that it is always important to seek physician’s advice first before exercising. “While it is important for pregnant women to stay active throughout their pregnancy, it is equally advisable that they consult their attending physicians first to know if it is safe for them to exercise and what types of exercises they can engage in,” she said.
“By consulting their physicians, pregnant women can know their body’s needs and which exercise to do to suit their body. Every pregnant woman is different. So, individuals should know what kind of exercise will work best for her body and not put her baby in harm’s way. In addition, how much a woman is able to cope with exercising while pregnant might also depend on how much fitness they had engaged in prior to getting pregnant,” Dr. Al Khenyab pointed out.
While exercising is good for the body, Dr. Al Khenyab advised pregnant women to start off exercising slowly and gradually increase their level of activity; avoid lying flat on their back (especially after the first 3 months of pregnancy); avoid exercising outdoors in hot or humid weather; drink plenty of water and fluids during and after exercising. She adds that they should stop exercising if they get out of breath and can't talk easily or if they start seeing signs of labor like contractions.