So this is like one of my objectives for life; to educate and empower my fellow women to follow healthy choices and take care of themselves. Because, most of my female friends, colleagues, clients in which so ever phase of their lives seems to have forgotten how to prioritize their own well-being over others in this patriarchal society. For example, throughout my practice I have met quite a few expectant and post partum women who have been recommended exercising but they don't, for the reasons ranging from 'my in-laws believe it is risky, and I need to listen to them' to 'I need to take care of my child and family, doesn't leave me with enough energy and time'.
Only if they knew how to prioritize ,they could have prevented long term risks of illness such as obesity for two generations!
While in other parts of the world , people have access to advanced practices like aquatic antenatal exercises, midwives, water birth etc. we are still fighting for proper nutrition and exercise for our expecting and breastfeeding mothers.
There occurs certain adaptations that a women's body undergoes to accommodate the growing embryo. These changes might include behavioral (brain), cardiovascular(heart and blood vessels), hematologic(blood), metabolic (digestive, absorption of nutrients), renal (kidney/ urinary), musculoskeletal (muscles, bones, posture), respiratory (breathing). While these changes are physiologically normal, it is important for smooth acceptance of these changes by the body and mind of the expectant mothers in order to avoid unnecessary anxiety and physical overburden. After delivery it takes quite some time for the body hormones to return to normal levels. There is a strong need to smoothly speed up this process as well.
WHY PHYSIO ?
Not just exercise practitioner, a physio in Indian scenario are playing roles of Lamaze instructors, and midwives to quite an extent. Mainly a physiotherapist is responsible for following:
- Prevention and treatment of musculoskeletal problems
- Promoting healthy lifestyles
- Postural and ergonomic advice
- Preparing for labor
- Teaching relaxation techniques
- Optimal physical fitness
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM A PHYSIO ?
A good physiotherapist delivered program for pregnant women would have the following features:
- Screen patients to ensure they can safely participate in an exercise program.
- Assess patients for posture, strength, flexibility, balance and other musculoskeletal issues that could have a bearing on pregnancy or after delivery.
- Instruct patients on how to perform exercises safely and effectively.
- Identify signs of overdoing or underperforming and otherwise originating of any complications during pregnancy or in stitches after delivery.
- Utilize an individualized approach even in group setting.
- Enable group discussion and education regarding pre and post-natal issues.
BENEFITS OF EXERCISE DURING AND AFTER PREGNANCY
Maternal physical activity has been identified as an important component of a healthy pregnancy and is beneficial to the mother and fetus. A sedentary lifestyle, on the other hand, may put the mother and fetus at risk for diseases through altered maternal pregnancy adaptations, such as excessive gestational weight gain, gestational diabetes, or gestational hypertension.
Following are proven benefits of exercises before and after pregnancy:
- The studies have showed that 65% of moms who exercise deliver in less than 4 hours.
- Exercise throughout pregnancy usually results in a baby with less body fat.
- Babies from fit mothers seem to have better working nervous systems- they are more independent, require less attention, sleep through the night, have less colic, and their mental development is accelerated.
- Speed postpartum weight loss.
- Bond and play with the baby while exercise.
- Improve posture and relieve back ache.
- Strengthen the lower back and arms to lift and hold the baby without injuring oneself.
- Condition the pelvic floor muscles to avoid urinary incontinence and avoid prolapse of internal organs.
There is no set rule of exercise even though there are quite a lot of recommendations by bodies like Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada(SOGC) and American College of Sports Academy(ACSM), however every body's demand and reaction to exercise varies and it is always best to practice it in association of a trained expert of the field. SELF-EXERCISE PRESCRIPTION is as harmful as self prescribed drugs especially when dealing with two generations.