While it may feel like your belly can in no way become bigger than what it already is, it will actually get a lot bigger in the final few weeks of pregnancy; or your third trimester.
The third and final trimester begins in week 28 of pregnancy (Of a 40 week standard pregnancy). In other words, your third trimester lasts from month 7 through month 9 of pregnancy.
The baby grows a lot larger in this final trimester. From the beginning of the third trimester till birth, the baby usually gains 4-7 pounds and increases in length from 16 to 22 inches. The growth in size and decrease in space would bring along some kicking and thus additional discomfort.
Why is exercise important?
While an overgrown belly and near-constant shortness of breath in the last leg of pregnancy might tempt you to sit back and relax, exercise continued into the 3rd trimester will help reduce swelling and contribute towards further expanding your pelvis and hips for an easy delivery.
While the first and second trimesters are focused on avoiding excess weight gain, you should aim to put on at least 1 pound per week-alongside your exercise regime-in the 3rd trimester through healthy eating in order to fulfill the growing nutritional needs of your baby.
Doctors says, here are some things you should avoid in your trimester 3 exercise routine:
- Forego the heavy weights to avoid putting excess strain on your ligaments and tendons, which tend to relax-and are hence, prone to damage-in the 3rd
- Reduce the intensity of exercises to avoid dizziness and lightheadedness which are inevitable in the final trimester.
- As the weeks wear on, the growing baby will occupy more space in your body, leaving little room for your diaphragm to expand, resulting in reduced lung capacity and difficulty breathing, so avoid exercises that require too much exertion.
What You Can Do:
You can continue with the following exercises-in restrictive motions-for 20 minutes a day, 3-5 times a week or daily:
1- Walking And Jogging:
The best form of exercise throughout the course of pregnancy, daily walking helps in blood circulation and overcoming lethargy. More active women can switch to moderate jogging or continue with running-with their doctor’s consent.
2- Yoga and Pilates:
Highly recommended for women in their 3rd trimesters, these 2 mood-boosting workouts strengthen the abdominal and core muscles, effectively reducing back pain and sciatica (pain that affects the back, hips and outer legs). They also improve overall posture, which aids in pushing during delivery. A significantly lowered risk of premature and Cesarean delivery is also an added benefit.
As the baby grows, more pressure is put on the legs, resulting in fatigue and leg pain in addition to the characteristic lower back pain, which are best relieved by swimming. Regular swimming also helps prevent overheating. However, do not swim for more than 20-25 minutes to avoid overexertion.
4- Weight Training:
While lifting light weights is beneficial for building arm muscles-which will prove useful in carrying the baby without tiring after birth-train your focus on other strength training exercises that utilize your increased body-weight, like squats and wall push-ups. Abdominal and back exercises, in particular, are highly recommended for the 3rd trimester.
Some Specific Exercises:
1- Proper Sitting:
While it may seem uncomfortable, avoid reclining on beds and sofas for too long and opt for straight-backed chairs while sitting cross-legged instead. This will help expand and align the pelvis as well as ensure an optimal position of the baby for ease during childbirth. Also try to lean forward as much as possible to reduce vertebral (backbone) damage.
2- Standing Pelvic Tilts:
Lean against a wall. Slightly bend your knees, and, while exhaling, slowly lift your pelvis off the wall and upwards, making sure your lower back is pressed into the wall. Inhale, and return to normal standing position. Repeat this exercise 10-15 times daily.
Sit comfortably on the floor or a mat, and put the soles of your feet together so that your knees jut outward and your legs are folded. With the soles still together, move your legs forwards and backwards to stretch your pelvis.
4- Wall Push-Up:
Stand straight by pulling in your navel and facing a wall. Keep your feet hip-width apart and your arms braced straight in the front of you. Bending the elbows, bring your chest towards the wall, push back slowly and repeat 20 times in 1-2 sets of 10 each.
Stand as in the previous exercise, but keep your feet farther than hip-width apart. Tilt your pelvis up, bend your knees and lower yourself to the floor, while keeping your arms straight. Now straighten your legs, return to the original position and repeat 20 times in 1-2 sets of 10 each.
Above all, take care of yourself and your baby and exercise only with the consent of your doctor.
If needed, you can also book an appointment with a top Gynecologist in Multan, Karachi and Islamabad through oladoc.com. Or call our helpline at 042-3890-0939 for assistance to find the RIGHT Doctor for your gestational needs.