Sport in pregnancy: after the study that cleared the marriage, Dr. Giovanna Testa explains the optimal methods and frequency
Maternity and sport: after the study that finally cleared the marriage, we spoke with Dr. Giovanna Testa, a gynecologist who has always been attentive and sensitive to the health and well-being of women, to deepen the subject. And let us explain why sport is good (also) in pregnancy and how it should be addressed. Methods, frequency and "advice for use".
More and more pregnant women want to keep fit, doctors and statistics confirm this. His opinion?
Absolutely true. I see more and more that the concept that sport makes you feel better at all stages of life, including pregnancy, prompts many women who have never exercised before to ask what they can do to keep fit during the nine months of gestation. For many of them, the key problem is not putting on too much weight. We also know that physical activity reduces the risk of gestational diabetes and brings psychological well-being. Sport benefits the mother and consequently the child.
What do you recommend, first of all?
However, the first advice is to rely on competent people who can indicate which and how many exercises to do. Now more and more women are turning to the network to retrieve information. On the web there are many tutorials that describe exercises to do. But do-it-yourself is not always recommended: the doctor is the first to be consulted to highlight any risk situations. The ideal would be that the doctor and the athletic trainer could interface for each individual case, even if I understand that in practice it is not always easy. Pregnancy is the time when a woman wants to take better care of herself, but it is important to identify professionals who are able to follow her for all stages of gestation.
Which sport to prefer, distinguishing between first, second and third trimester of pregnancy?
Those to be avoided are always to be avoided, for all nine months: diving, always not recommended during pregnancy, and impact sports that can create balance disorders and damage from falls as well as from contrast. Better to give preference to aerobic ones, which work both the muscles of the legs and arms. Walking in the first place, which is always recommended and recommended, as well as swimming and all the gentle exercises in the water, the exercise bike and even stretching.
Any recommendations on how to do it?
Any type of activity is important to be carried out safely, because the first thing is to exclude that there may be contraindications and dangers of any kind. Secondly, as regards frequency and intensity, it is important to propose them according to the patient's athletic preparation. If it is a question of women who were already physically active or on the contrary sedentary. In the latter case, the exercises must be introduced gradually.
Is it true that in the first months, those considered most at risk, sport should be avoided?
We assume that if the pregnancy has to go on, it goes on anyway. Obviously, a prudent attitude is what leads many doctors to recommend rest and inactivity, precisely in order not to run any risk. It is true that especially in the first weeks, when the embryo is implanting and developing, an increase in the maternal body temperature can be harmful to the fetus. Furthermore, the first trimester is the one most at risk for abortion. At the same time, however, we know that most of these abortions occur on a chromosomal basis, that is, they are pregnancies that would have been interrupted anyway, by natural selection, regardless of the physical activity performed. Therefore: prudence is important but completely contraindicating physical activity risks depressing the mother both physically and mentally.
How much physical activity is recommended and how should it be divided over the week?
American guidelines suggest three times a week with a moderate intensity: 30 minutes a time, for a total of about 150 minutes a week.
What are the warning signs that should not be underestimated, which indicate that it is better to stop? Certainly loss of blood, amniotic fluid, sensation of contracted uterus and abdominal pain must always be taken into consideration. As well as the perception of greater breathlessness during physical activity, because its presence indicates that the heart is struggling, reducing blood oxygenation.
Any preventive advice?
Always remember to drink a lot during physical activity, hydration is essential, and from the second trimester onwards avoid exercises in the supine position because they compress the vena cava and can create a situation of poor blood supply in the uterus. Preferring exercises in a lateral or standing position.
Spinning: yes or no?
I personally don't recommend it. Of course, it will be assessed over time whether in safe and monitored conditions it can create problems for pregnancy or not. Generally it is not recommended. Future studies, such as the one on female athletes, will be important to give us more detailed information.
Post pregnancy: can you continue to play sports during breastfeeding or can there be contraindications for milk production?
Our study confirms this: many of the 55 athletes resumed physical activity while breastfeeding. Of course we are talking about light sport, moderate walking or running. Here, too, it is important to hydrate well, because the demand for fluids is greater. However, the question is interesting, because in Italy there is little sensitivity and attention to everything related to post partum. I am referring for example to rehabilitation of the pelvic floor. Suffice it to say that in France women are discharged with a medical prescription for 10 cycles of physiotherapy for the pelvic floor, to be performed directly in the hospital. Here we talk about it very little, instead it is a very important aspect, which should be taken into consideration to avoid future prolapses or urinary incontinence problems, even at a young age. The risk exists, especially after vaginal deliveries. Then slowly, you can and should also resume exercises for the abdominals, to avoid for example the diastasis of the rectus muscles, which is also frequent in post-partum.
Some nutrition advice
Obviously, fruits and vegetables are the most recommended foods. Then reduce simple sugars, those related above all to sweets. But the key thing, I repeat, is hydration. Our body is made up of 60 to 70% water, so it is already normally important to replenish it. During pregnancy, then, from the production of amniotic fluid first and breastfeeding later, the demand increases even more.
Supplements, yes or no?
Supplements can be fine, always if recommended and prescribed by your doctor, without ever abusing them. There has been a real boom in recent years, but I would like to remind you that it is right to take them when there is a deficit. For example, in this historical period, with the various lockdowns and closures that have occurred, almost all of us are deficient in vitamin D, and then it is right to take it. The problem is that today with the internet people buy and take everything, but remember that even supplements are metabolized in the liver: why overload the liver with synthetic substances? I always recommend going there in moderation. Avoiding, once again, the do-it-yourself.
The conclusion is: is sports during pregnancy recommended?
Pregnancy is an important physiological moment, it just needs to be adapted to all the physical changes the body undergoes. But with the proper precautions and information you can do everything. The important thing is always balance. Beyond critical conditions, sport still brings physical and mental benefits to the mother and the child, so be it!
- 5 tips to get back to running after pregnancy
- Kegel exercises: what they are, what they are for and how they are done
- Sport during and after pregnancy: the study that (finally) "clears customs"
- Pregnancy and epilepsy, all you need to know
- Cytomegalovirus infection in pregnancy: what it is and how to behave
Tag: Pregnancy Sportsmen