Exercise Solutions for Your Pregnancy Problems

September 7, 2012

Women's Health

I’ve officially crossed the threshold into the third trimester of pregnancy.  I tried to prepare myself as much as possible prior to getting pregnant and based on stories and conjecture I had a few preconceptions (pun intended) about what this experience would be like.

Monique’s Preconceptions on Pregnancy (circa early 2012)

  • 9 months of tired, bloated, nauseous torture. joy.
  • I wonder what it’s like to feel like a cow…
  • How will I be lifted every time I need to get out of a chair?
  • I have seen the future of pregnancy-related pain and it is not pretty.
  • Goodbye fun, active lifestyle
  • Will need new shoes to accommodate the hobbit feet. At least I’ll get to buy new shoes- that’s fun.

Maybe it’s the fuzzy feel-good hormones talking, but the experience actually has NOT felt like a 9-month sentence to Guantanamo Bay. I’m glad I was wrong, and I think I might actually get out of this without feeling too terrible.  One big reason I think I’m feeling more like a magical unicorn than a cow is exercise.  There are a lot of pregnancy-related woes that can be helped by this simple, regular activity, not to mention the benefits to your baby’s health.

Exercise during Pregnancy can Help the Following:

  • Fatigue: some people just get this in the first trimester like I did, some people have it their entire pregnancy, and others don’t get it at all (and those of you in this category need to stop bragging). If you have fatigue, regular exercise can help to keep your energy levels up.  The biggest battle is getting out there and doing something, but once you have you’ll feel much more energized.  It doesn’t have to require any special equipment, you can feel better with simple things like taking a walk.  A walk makes me feel much more refreshed than a nap.
  • Cankles: Exercise improves your circulation and the pumping action of the muscles in your legs can help to prevent or minimize the development of swelling which leads to the dreaded cankle.
  • Waddling Duck Gait: Your pelvis will be looser due to the hormonal changes your body goes through and this can result in a waddling gait, but some of this waddling is due to weakness in the hips which are not supporting the pelvis well.  Do your best to prevent waddling by strengthening your glutes.  This will also help to improve your ability to squat and get up from chairs or the floor.
  • Loss of Bladder Control when sneezing or giggling: Performing exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles can help to prevent this embarassing problem, but it also helps to prepare you for the rigors of labor.  One exercise that can help to engage and strengthen your pelvic floor is the kegel, where you contract and relax the muscles of the pelvic floor.
  • Body Image and Confidence: You will get the preggy belly and larger breasts which will encourage your posture to unattractively slump.  Work on good preggie posture by strengthening muscles in your back and core, stand tall, and feel more confident about your body.
  • Back Pain: I could write a separate post about this topic.  Strengthening exercises and exercises to promote an improved posture will help to prevent and manage back pain.  Most pregnant women do experience some form of back pain, but if it gets bothersome, don’t suffer, see a physical therapist.  I’ve seen women, usually in the third trimester, with back pain and the therapy has helped to make them much more comfortable and in control of this problem.

Exercise can also help to reduce your stress, manage your blood glucose levels, manage your blood pressure, and help to prevent blood clots, all leading to a more healthy you, pregnancy, and baby.  Exercise is still my drug of choice, even when pregnant.  Talk to your doctor to be sure exercise is safe for you during your pregnancy as there are some conditions in which it is not safe to exercise.  If all systems are go, get into the routine of continuing exercise while you’re pregnant and squash the preconceptions.

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Physical Therapy Orthopaedic Specialist at Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System

My name is Monique Serpas, PT, DPT, OCS. I am a physical therapist and board-certified Orthopaedic Clinical Specialist practicing at the Southeast Louisiana Healthcare System in New Orleans, LA. I realize how difficult it can be to overcome an injury or manage a chronic condition and am focused on helping my clients achieve wellness through a physically active lifestyle. I treat orthopaedic, balance, and vestibular disorders and practice using a combination of hands-on manual therapy, therapeutic exercise, and education. This enables my patients to assist in their own recovery and injury prevention. I also have developed fall prevention and golf-related rehab programs in the past. I hold a Doctor of Physical Therapy from Concordia University Wisconsin (2008) and a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology from Louisiana State University (2004). I am a member of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), Louisiana Physical Therapy Association (LPTA), and the Orthopaedic and Neurology sections of the APTA.

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