According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regular exercises can help protect pregnant women from developing gestational diabetes
Bridget Tushabe is in the last trimester of her second pregnancy. Despite the challenges that come with the last trimester like tiredness, she walks to not only keep fit but also to ensure that she has a safe normal delivery.
“I do not want to go through a C-section. The doctor advised me to exercise. So I have made sure that I walk at least one kilometer every morning and evening or every day.
During the interviews, she boasts of how dancing helped her have safe and almost painless birth for her first child but now with motherhood, she can no longer go to clubs and has resorted to walking.
Pregnancy is a very tricky and challenging period for a woman. According to a fitness instructor, Timothy Okia, during this period women are so delicate and one has to be careful with the exercises they choose lest they lose the baby.
He agrees with Tushabe, noting that walking is one of the low impact exercises highly recommended for pregnant women especially those who are past their fourth month.
“For pregnant women an exercise has to be low impact. For me when it clocks four months, I stop them from doing intense exercises like aerobics because they risk suffering a miscarriage or premature birth,” he said.
Dr. Annet Nankwanga, the coordinator Sports Science at Makerere University notes that women need exercises that offer them relaxation, improve sleep, mood, blood circulation, metabolism, breathing, and the growth process, and exercises that strengthen the muscles and bones.
“We have a package of exercises. There are prenatal and general body exercises to improve blood circulation, breathing system and flexibility and all those are needed for mothers so that they don’t remain sickish, they should be active to be able to play their role and take care of other siblings as well,” she said.
She says keeping fit during pregnancy can help improve one’s posture and decrease backaches and fatigue which are common during pregnancy.
According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regular exercises can help protect pregnant women from developing gestational diabetes (diabetes that develops during pregnancy).
Exercises for pregnancy
Okia, who is also an instructor at Gorilla Strength Training Gym in Bugolobi, says pelvic floor exercises (Kegels) are one of the best exercises for a mother during pregnancy. These exercises involve repeated contraction and relaxation of muscles that form part of the pelvic floor.
He says one is required to do the exercise three times a day for at least five days in a week in order to have a firm and strong pelvic muscles.
Nankwanga, notes that since the pelvic floor muscles hold the baby, they tend to loosen during birth. She explains that when they lose their elasticity, Women tend to have problems controlling urine.
She notes that with consistent and repeated Kegels, a woman protects herself from having a loose pelvic floor and can easily regain her elasticity after birth.
They say pregnant women also need to do breathing and concentration exercises like Yoga to help them master how to regulate breathing during the labor process.
Nankwanga says these exercises teach women how to breathe during labor, when to hold their breath during the process and how to manage one’s breathing rhythm.
“They help the labour process to be faster and easy especially if you have been active and if you have been taught to manage the process properly,” she said.
Musa Mohammed an instructor at Lahmed’s Gym in Kibuli, further notes that in the first trimester can do simple low impact exercises like skipping the rope and simple squats with the kettlebells in order to improve their overall strength and flexibility.
The fitness experts, however, warn that pregnant women do not have to do the exercises on their own. Nankwanga says the exercises should be designed and supervised by a physiotherapist.
“There is need for a physiotherapist to be part of that medical team of a pregnant mother in order to advise her on what to do and to teach them the exercises that will make their babies healthier and active,” she says.
Mohammed also says pregnant women need trainers who can give expert advice appropriate for their condition especially those who once had a C-section.
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