SOME pregnant women, believing their conditions are too delicate to withstand the rigours of exercise, use their pregnancies as the perfect excuse to eat everything in sight and put aside their fitness routines, only to feel depressed about the added weight gained after giving birth.
But experts suggest that it is best to continue a workout regime during pregnancy, which will make it so much easier to get back to your pre-pregnancy figure after carrying around 30 extra pounds or so for nine months.
"Pregnancy is usually a time when women see themselves eating for two, and coupled with the possibility of a reduction in exercise, this can cause excessive weight gain. This sometimes leads to complications during delivery. As such, it is always good if one can keep the weight gained during pregnancy between 25 to 35 pounds," said nutritionist and fitness expert Donovan Grant.
Obstetrician/gynaecologist Dr Donnette Simms-Stewart said there is a lot to be gained from exercising during pregnancy.
"It helps you to feel better and gives you a better outlook. It helps you emotionally and is good for your entire well-being during and after pregnancy," she pointed out.
Exercising during pregnancy also helps to relieve backaches, helps you sleep better, and helps to build strong muscles and a fit heart so that the process of labour and delivery can be easier.
The doctor cautions individuals to be very careful in their selection of an exercise programme during pregnancy, however, as too much heavy lifting, for example, presents varying risks to a pregnant woman. She said it is important that a pregnant woman is given the go ahead by a doctor to start exercising, especially if she did not have a routine before.
"Your body is going to direct you a lot, so some persons will become uncomfortable earlier than others. So you will be guided a lot by how you are feeling and of course by your medical check-ups which would indicate what is happening with your body," she said.
Owner/teacher of Afya Yoga and Pilates studio, Sonita Morin Abrahams, believes that once an individual has been granted permission by their doctor, then they can engage in low impact exercises such as yoga and pilates.
"Walking is a very good exercise for anyone including a pregnant woman, and so is swimming," she added.
The mother of two said she exercised throughout her pregnancies and even her daughter continued to exercise up to a week before giving birth.
"As long as a woman is having a healthy pregnancy, then I don't think there is anything wrong with exercising," she said.
Doing the wrong types of exercises can result in vaginal bleeding, dizziness, chest pain, shortness of breath and generalised pain. It is advisable to avoid exercises that involve any form of bouncing, heavy lifting, or which pose any risk of abdominal injuries.