By Dr Karan Singh Deora
Complications during delivery are not an unknown occurrence and the reasons behind it could be many. The maternal mortality rate in 2014-16 was recorded at 130, whereas the infant mortality rate (IMR) in 2016 was 34. Many complications occur due to common mistakes working women make during pregnancy, especially not looking after their health, both physical and mental. Many times due to work-related stress and the busy working hours women are not able to focus on their health. There are many ways to prevent such occurrences, such as exercising.
Exercising before delivery helps prevent low-back pain. It also helps expectant mothers to be physically and psychologically prepared for delivery by the medium of joint stretching and muscle strengthening. Exercising during pregnancy also helps in a stress-free pregnancy and labour. Further, mothers also benefit from it post-delivery, as it helps them recover in a better manner and faster.
To exercise properly and without stressing themselves too much, women should breathe smoothly and walk at a pace they are comfortable with. The exercise should be done two-three times a day and all movements should be repeated 10 times in each session.
There are a number of exercises women can practice before delivery. These exercises help to prepare for childbirth and how to get through the process. Exercises also help in dealing with common back pain during pregnancy. During pregnancy, women often develop bad postures; exercises help in dealing with this, along with controlling the body during delivery.
Purpose of Pre-pregnancy Exercise
These are the following exercises which working women can easily practice.
Pelvic Floor Exercises
Sit and lean slightly forward with a straight back. Squeeze and lift the muscles. Hold the squeeze and try counting to 8; relax for 8 seconds. Women who can’t hold for 8, can just try to hold as long as one can. Repeat as many as one can, about 8 to 12 squeezes. Repeat the whole thing 3 times. Keep breathing while exercising. Try not to tighten buttocks.
Back & Abdominal Muscle Exercises
Sit on a chair with back against the seat and breathe naturally. Tighten the abdomen and press the pelvis downwards to straighten the lower back against the back of the seat. Hold this pose for 5 seconds and relax. This exercise helps by correcting the lower back and pelvic posture, prevents back pain and strengthens the abdominal muscles.
Start with one ankle and move the foot upwards and downwards. Repeat 10 times. Rotate the ankle inward or outward, repeat 10 times. Ankle exercises help in reducing leg swelling and varicose vein, thus alleviating the problem of leg cramps.
Lower Limbs Relaxation Exercises
Sit on stable low chair against the wall and spread your thighs sideways; hold for a few seconds and relax. This exercise is suitable for pregnant women with tight thighs.
Breathing Exercise for pain relief during pregnancy
- a) Abdominal breathing (suitable for mild pain)
Breathe in through the nose and feel the abdomen expand and then breathe out through the mouth
- b) Lower costal breathing (suitable for mild pain)
Put your hands on the lower rib cage. Breathe in through the nose and feel your chest expand then breathe out gently through the mouth.
- c) Apical breathing (suitable for severe pain)
Cross your hands below the clavicles with your mouth slightly open, breathe in through the nose and the mouth. Breathe out gently as if trying to flicker the flame of a candle without blowing it out and feeling the upper lungs moving slightly up and down.
(The writer is Physiotherapist at Narayan Seva Sansthan.)