How to do safe exercise for mother and baby during pregnancy. health and wellness

It has always been customary to be extremely protective of pregnant women, urging them to control their activities and rest most of the time. However, for approximately the past three decades, the scientific literature has been showing just the opposite. It is very important to maintain an active life…

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It has always been customary to be extremely protective of pregnant women, urging them to control their activities and rest most of the time. However, for approximately the past three decades, the scientific literature has been showing just the opposite. Maintaining an active life during pregnancy is as important as eating a healthy diet or having all the regular medical checkups, emphasizes Carmen Gutiérrez, gynecologist at the pelvic floor unit of the 12 de Octubre Hospital in Madrid.

Despite expert advice, less than 20% of women in the world meet WHO recommendations of 150 minutes of physical exercise per week. They are data from Clinical practice guidelines on physical activity during pregnancyPublished by the Polytechnic University of Madrid (UPM), and which explains the benefits of being active during those nine months and how to do it safely for mother and baby.

UPM researchers published several investigations during 2023, showing the benefits of playing sports for pregnant women. Some of the data provided by these articles are that future mothers who perform some type of physical activity reduce their risk of gaining excessive weight during pregnancy and suffering from diabetes by between 32% and 38%, respectively. This reduces the likelihood of resorting to cesarean section by 13% and the likelihood of instrumental delivery by 16%. It has even been linked to a reduction in dilation by about an hour before delivery.

Controlling the mother’s weight gain during pregnancy is one of the most important factors. Cristina Silva, doctor in physical activity and sports science and one of the authors of the work, explains that controlling this aspect can prevent macrosomia (when the child weighs more than four kilos), which is linked to obesity and high income. Is connected. Newborn in ICU. Regarding mental health, it reduces anxiety, stress, and prenatal and postpartum depression. “Women who are physically active during pregnancy are more effective in muscular, respiratory and mechanical functions at each stage of the birth process,” explained Ruben Barakat, a professor of physical and sports education and one of the authors. Of UPM Research. ,

It is important to exercise the pelvic floor muscles. Although scientific evidence on this is still scarce, according to Gutierrez of Madrid’s 12 de Octubre Hospital, it has been shown that doing it three or four days a week reduces postpartum urinary incontinence. Both she and Francisca Molina, vice president of the Spanish Society of Gynecology and Obstetrics (SEGO) and an obstetrician at Granada’s San Cecilio Clinical Hospital, agree that women who stay active during pregnancy have a faster postpartum recovery than women who don’t. Which are motionless. life.

If the recommended 150 minutes per week are divided over six days, that’s 25 minutes of physical exercise per day, says Silva. “The important thing is to establish the habit right from the beginning and make it regular,” he highlights and adds that personalization is essential to achieve this. If they have interest in the activities they practice, they will more easily maintain motivation.

Adapt the activity to each case

The recommendations are not very specific, almost any activity can be done during those nine months, as long as it is adapted to the individual circumstances of each person. For example, a woman who rides a bicycle should replace the bicycle with a stationary bicycle during those months to avoid the risk of falls. Cristina Díaz del Campo, member of the Spanish Association of Physiotherapists in Women’s Health and Pelvic Health (AEF-SAMU), says that the most recommended and safe thing for pregnant women to do is to practice walking, Pilates or yoga (under the supervision of a physiotherapist). Is. float. Diving is not recommended due to changes in pressure, or sports where they may suffer a shock (football, basketball, boxing, skiing…).

Women who train in the gym should adapt their exercise postures, but only if they have experience and know how to do all the necessary techniques well, warns Silva from UPM. They should avoid the prone position and limit face-up time to two to three minutes per activity. In the latter case, they can adapt their posture and use a gymnastics ball so that they do not lie down completely and the exercises are safe.

It is important that, in addition to being adapted, any physical activity a pregnant woman does is guided. All experts agree that it is ideal to have a specialist (personal trainer or pelvic floor physiotherapist) for them. However, individual attention is an option available to few due to its economic cost and group classes are more accessible.

To work with pregnant women, exercise sessions should include several components: an aerobic portion that is not strenuous, muscle strengthening (especially in the upper and lumbar areas to take care of what the baby will need), Balance and coordination so you can avoid falling. Transforming the body, pelvic floor work, is what is needed and, ultimately, returning to relaxation and peace, Silva details.

pelvic floor and hip flexibility

Perinatal physiotherapy has three key points: pelvic floor preparation, physical exercises and providing the pregnant woman and her partner with strategies to face childbirth, explains Díaz del Campo of AEF-SAMU. In addition to exercises to tone and get the mother-to-be in shape, aspects such as the flexibility of the hips and pelvis are also worked on. These are individualized and supervised exercises in which internal and external rotation movements of the hips are performed, which helps the baby to fit better in the birth canal.

This physiotherapist warns that before starting work on the pelvic floor muscles it is necessary for a physiotherapist specialist in women’s health to pre-assess their condition. Perinatal physiotherapy also recommends and teaches perineal massage so that women can do it at home. Diaz del Campo says it’s recommended starting at week 32 of pregnancy and can prevent tearing or natural rupture of the perineal tissue.

“The toilet is a good speaker to make women aware of the importance of exercise during pregnancy,” says Silva. However, “his speech may be limited due to the lack of public offering,” Barakat laments. This situation most of the time disenfranchises women with fewer resources, according to this expert, who demands more investment in this area: “The existing scientific evidence is not supported at the institutional level. , should work toward ambitious and comprehensive physical activity programs.” pregnant women.

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