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Supporting you through pregnancy and the early stages of motherhood
Exercising in pregnancy
Whether you're a regular at the local gym or more of a regular in front of the TV, this section is equally relevant to you. Exercise in pregnancy is essential, it will help you towards a safe and pain free pregnancy and a more manageable labour and delivery. As your pregnancy progresses your body goes through several changes to accommodate your growing baby, the ligaments around your joints loosen up and pregnancy hormones soften the ligaments around you lower back and pelvis. You will start to use different muscles in different ways as your bump grows and your centre of gravity changes. In order to avoid these changes causing you pain and discomfort it is important that you do your best to establish a regular exercise routine, even a basic one, like a ten minute walk every day, will make a big difference. It is important to go over any exercise routine that you have planned with your doctor, some women who have a history of miscarriage are advised not to exercise for the first three months.

Aches and pains
Many of the aches and pains that women experience during pregnancy are caused by bad posture. Most heavily pregnant women have a tendency to over compensate for the extra weight at the front of their body by arching their back, putting too much pressure on the lower back and causing backache. To avoid this, try to keep your back as straight as possible. You can practice by sitting with your back against a wall, good posture corrects your balance and helps avoid aches and pains.
It is not only important to exercise for physical reasons but also mentally. Your body releases tranquillising chemicals during exercise that will help you to relax and relieve any tension and anxiety. Plus the fast circulation of the blood that occurs when you exercise means that you and your baby are well oxygenated. If these reasons aren't good enough to convince you the bear in mind that keeping in shape during your pregnancy will help you regain your normal shape more quickly after delivery.
Exercise classes
It might be a good idea to find out if there are any exercise classes that are designed especially for pregnant women in your area. Some people find it easier keep it up if they have a set routine to stick to, also if there is a trained instructor taking the class they cam make sure that you are exercising correctly. There are often classes available that are similar to normal exercise classes with specially adapted workouts that are safe for pregnant women, they have exercises specifically designed to increase stamina, strength and flexibility all of which will be invaluable during delivery. Another option that proves to be increasingly popular with pregnant women is yoga. It is believed that the breathing and relaxation techniques taught, help raise the pain threshold and that the stretches and positions increase flexibility. Aqua natal classes are an excellent alternative to a regular keep fit style class especially if you don't normally exercise regularly. The water will help take the weight off your bump and the exercises are generally more gentle and the pace of the class slower. You might find that these classes are held by your local maternity unit and your midwife should be able to give you more information, not only will they help you prepare for the later stages of pregnancy, labour and delivery, they are a great opportunity to meet other expectant mothers.

If you have an unpredictable work schedule, or other kids that would make attending a regular class difficult you might want to consider swimming, this is an excellent way of keeping in shape and one of the only forms of exercise that you can continue with right up to full term. Like the aqua natal classes many women find swimming particularly helpful in the later stages as the water takes the weight of their bump off their back for a while.
Regardless of the type of exercise you decide to take up it is important to warm up before you begin with a few stretches, this will help loosen the muscles and joints and reduce the risk of overstretching. Always breathe normally throughout and if you feel any pain or discomfort stop and rest, never push your self until you are very short of breath. Exercise during pregnancy should be relaxed and enjoyable, not a punishment, so take it easy and have fun!
Pain Relief During Pregnancy
Bad posture can cause
backache. Keep your back as
straight as possible. You can
practice by sitting with your
back against a wall
Exercise in pregnancy
is essential
You might want to
consider swimming
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