Issues and Challenges

Motherhood, Fitness and Exercise: Myth Vs. Fact

A blissful and beautiful motherhood journey is the dream of every pregnant woman. Pregnancy is indeed a bountiful mercy for a family, where everyone in the family is super-excited, especially if it is the first child of the couple. But at the same time it is usually a time of great stress and unwelcomed strain for the girls. Our cultural myths, though have no scientific knowledge or backing, are so deeply rooted in our minds that even well-researched facts are put to doubt and rejected.
As soon as the news of pregnancy is confirmed, the mom-to-be is expected to lie down and rest not only till the delivery but throughout the postpartum for a healthy recovery. The myths about resting throughout the pregnancy may even be more disastrous for a woman’s health and that of the baby. What needs to be remembered is that pregnancy is not a disease, it is a very natural process. Unless, there is some kind of complication, relax and take pregnancy as a natural course of life.  
We often see many celebrities, athletes and sports women on social media flaunting their pictures being physically active and fit during the pregnancy. Is it really important to be physically active for pregnancy? The answer is, yes. The future generation’s wellbeing depends on how seriously we take our physical fitness. 
I would strongly advise to adopt physical fitness as a part of our pre-pregnancy plan, as many complications can be avoided with regular exercise. The first trimester is usually physically draining for new moms-to-be. Hormonal changes make it not only physically stressful but mentally and emotionally draining as well. Taking a walk and deep breathing in an open park is not only calming for the mind but it regulates and strengthens all the organs. Heart being a vital muscle of the body gets fresh supply of blood with walk and gentle yoga. Generally, walk with moderate intensity, do gentle yoga flow, and breathing exercises. The most common problem is bloating and nausea, and for that I cannot emphasize enough how much you need to get up from the bed and move around for better digestion.
There are great exercises and prenatal yoga classes to strengthen the pelvic floor. The pelvic floor weakness and urinary incontinence are quite common among pregnant women. A common symptom of weak pelvic floor is the leakage of urine as you cough or laugh. Kegel exercises strengthen the pelvic floor. These exercises are very safe to do if done right. There are some poses that need to be avoided if the baby is breech like the Goddess pose or Malasana or deep squatting. Talk to your obstetrician and gynecologist if any complication arises and then head for your exercises. Remember there are many modifications of yoga poses and a qualified instructor can help you in reaping the maximum benefits. 

Backache and other pains set in as the pregnancy advances and a pregnant woman gains weight. Core muscles become weak and the back bone is strained due to the excessive weight. This calls for gentle yoga poses and chair workouts for healthy and strong spine to carry both the mother and the baby. Chair workouts are simply awesome when done right. One can safely target almost all the muscle groups while sitting on a chair. I highly recommend doing some exercises while sitting on a chair and using lightweight dumbbells. This targets the biceps, triceps, shoulders and upper body and is great for toning the upper body and losing back fat, which is very common. It is highly effective to use dumbbells to lift saggy breasts, and can safely be done even while sitting on a chair.   
Diastasis recti is another common feature of pregnancy. Diastasis recti occurs due to abdominal pressure and stretched midsection that separates the rectus muscle. A bulging belly, urinary incontinence, lower backache, poor posture and sometimes even constipation are the symptoms related to this condition. A well informed physical therapist can help in guiding with prenatal and postpartum exercises to follow to deal with this problem.
It is crucial to be physically active during the third trimester of pregnancy in order to get physically strong and flexible for the impending labor. Brisk walk is highly recommended as it not only helps with labor but also proves to be beneficial in calming down the anxious mind. Energy boosting breathing exercises and meditation is a great combination to relieve body aches, mental stress of pregnancy, regulating the hormonal activity, etc. As the time comes for delivery, physical exercise helps with the bloating that is a common condition after pregnancy. Being lazy and mostly staying on bed would be terrible at this stage. Postnatal yoga is quite helpful in dealing with the ‘baby blues’ or postpartum depression.
Postpartum healthcare is vital for a mother’s sanity and wellbeing. The new born baby needs a healthy, physically strong and mentally stable mother and to ensure that we need to break free from the myths revolving around the wellness of young mothers as motherhood is an uncomfortable and challenging bliss. Be prepared to welcome the future generation like we need to prepare for other mega projects. Motherhood is a family project and one should not head into it without being fully prepared, and for that you need to take a holistic healthy approach with great care and love. HH

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