Why and how pregnant women should work out

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Exercise is vital to pregnant women. 

BY ROSE RUTH AKONGO 

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, expectant mothers who exercise do not deliver prematurely, as was once believed, but are generally healthier and are less likely to deliver by caesarian section.

Researchers analyzed the outcomes of more than 2,000 pregnant women and found that up to 90 minutes of exercise three or four times a week is beneficial for women who are pregnant with one child and are generally in good health.

Women who exercised had a lower risk of gestational diabetes, hypertension and nearly three-quarters of them had vaginal deliveries, compared to the 67.5 per cent of the sedentary women, the report said.

Delivery by cesarean section brings about a host of potential complications, including blood clots, infection, and placental problems with future pregnancies.

There are also risks for the baby, such as breathing problems, specifically transient tachypnea, which is marked by abnormally fast breathing during the first few day according to Mayo Clinic.

The baby also faces an increased risk of becoming obese, developing allergies, asthma, and type 1 diabetes.

The best exercises during pregnancy, according to the research, are fast walking, swimming, stationary cycling and yoga. 

Derrick Muluya, the Uganda Christian University (UCU) gym instructor, says that exercising during pregnancy keeps both the baby and the mother in perfect body size and shape, easing the process of natural delivery.

“It is advisable to exercise up to the sixth month of the pregnancy, and resume two months after delivery, to get back into shape,” Muluya said.

Previously, pregnant women were discouraged from physical activity due to the fear of increasing the risk of pre-term birth. Pre-term birth is delivering a baby before 37 weeks.

“But numerous studies have since shown that exercise does not harm the baby, and can have benefits for both mother and baby,” said Dr Vincenzo Berghella, director of Maternal Fetal Medicine and professor at the Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University, USA.

It is important to remember, however, that the study was carried out on women who were carrying a single baby. 

Dr Berghella, who is also the senior author of the study, advises women who are expecting multiple babies, or those who have complications like high blood pressure or anemia, to remain relatively sedentary during pregnancy and follow relevant medical practitioners’ advice.

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