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Taking care of maternal health

Approaches to healthy and active motherhood

Numerous studies confirm the benefits of regular physical exercise, one of the most universal medical recommendations, but... is gymnastics also good during pregnancy, when the mother's body gains weight and carries a new and fragile life inside? ?

For a team of researchers from the University of Granada, southern Spain, the answer is yes. The study, carried out with 962 pregnant women, shows that, in healthy women, controlled exercise of moderate intensity and started immediately after the first prenatal visit prevents excessive weight gain at the end of this period and reduces the risk of developing associated ailments. such as gestational diabetes or hypertension.

The obstetrician Rubén Barakat affirms that "the benefits of programmed physical exercise during pregnancy can reach the first years of the child's life", recalling that excessive weight during pregnancy has negative effects on newborns and increases the risk of childhood overweight. 30%. The specialist points out that "the benefits of regular physical activity during pregnancy and the postpartum period are the same as the well-known benefits obtained by the general population."


Excess gestational weight consists of an accumulation of maternal weight during pregnancy that is greater than necessary, which is generally caused by inadequate lifestyles, especially poor diet and excessive sedentary lifestyle. Hence, programmed physical exercise is an excellent element for controlling adequate weight gain.


For those women who have doubts or fears about exercise, the best thing they can do is consult with their medical professional. "If this fear still persists, the fear of exercising is not the best environment for physical practice, so in this case I advise against it," adds Barakat, "despite the fact that scientific evidence shows that the potential of physical exercise during pregnancy are many and all beneficial.”

Some examples of these potential benefits are a lower percentage of instrumentalized and cesarean deliveries, better maternal metabolic response, better fetal cardiocirculatory response, decreased percentage of pre- and postnatal maternal depression, according to the expert.

"If there is no obstetric contraindication that advises not doing physical exercise, all pregnant women can and should do sports, as long as it is appropriate," he points out, adding that pregnancy is an ideal period to change habits and adopt a lifestyle physically active during this period and for the rest of life.

Asked about this idea, he explains that the process of pregnancy and childbirth is, from the human point of view, a unique moment. There is no other vital process with such quality and quantity of modifications of all kinds, which includes the psychological field and positively predisposes women to assume new habits and routines with great staying power.

For Barakat, the best advice that can be given to a pregnant woman so that her gymnastics is healthy is that the physical exercise she puts into practice "be designed and developed by a sports professional and, in addition, with adequate obstetric control as a condition basic.

“This activity must be of a moderate aerobic nature and be carried out regularly, never occasionally. A physical exercise session must have a warm-up beforehand, for the activation of all the body's systems, a somewhat more intense central part, and a gradual return to the initial levels”, points out the expert.


• Regarding what type of exercises are most appropriate for pregnant women, the recommendations revolve around the scheduled sessions: aerobic work at moderate intensity, muscle strengthening, coordination and balance, strengthening of the pelvic floor and flexibility, and relaxation tasks.

• Walking is the best activity for pregnant moms because it's safe, easy to do, and provides cardiovascular benefits—that is, it's perfect even if you didn't exercise at all before pregnancy.

• Enroll in a low-impact aerobics class or work out with an exercise DVD. Look for ones that are made specifically for pregnant women.

• Swimming is a great activity because it allows you to work your whole body, but it puts very little stress on your joints. In addition, it has the advantage that in the water it floats and you feel light, which temporarily alleviates the discomfort caused by the belly when it is already bigger.

• Prenatal yoga and stretching are two activities that relieve tension and help keep the body flexible and strong.

• YES INDEED: you should avoid high-risk sports, such as scuba diving, and activities during which you could fall and injure yourself, such as horseback riding or bicycling. After the first trimester, avoid abdominal exercises or other exercises that are done lying on your back, as these could cause dizziness and reduce blood flow to the uterus; along with weight-bearing exercises and other exercises that require you to stand for a long time without moving, they could also reduce the amount of blood that reaches the uterus.

NOTE: If there is no obstetric contraindication, all pregnant women can perform physical exercise, as long as it is appropriate.

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