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Pregnancy was once considered a time for rest when women advised to refrain from physical activity/exercise as they were considered to be harmful for the mother and unborn baby. This view is challenged by several studies which found that physical activity in pregnancy is safe and has many benefits for the mother and baby.
How do I stay active during pregnancy?
If you were active for at least six months before your pregnancy, ask your doctor about whether you may continue your sports or workouts safely. As you move further into your pregnancy and your body changes, you may feel mild aches and pains due to looser joints and shifting of your body weight. You may need to revise your exercise program every trimester to reduce the risk of falls and limit high-impact activities.
If you have not been active before your pregnancy, start low and go slow. Try regular brisk walking, swimming, strength training for pregnant women, or other activities that will strengthen your heart and lungs and tone your muscles.
Regular exercise can:
- Maintain cardiovascular fitness and improve circulation
- Help maintain a healthy weight
- Improve energy levels and sleep
- Reduce stress, anxiety and depression
- Lower the risk of varicose veins and swelling of extremities
- Maintain strength and flexibility
- Improve your balance, co-ordination posture
- Reduce physical complaints e.g. low back pain and constipation
- Prevent and treat pelvic floor dysfunction
- Prevent and control gestational diabetes mellitus (a type of diabetes that affects women during pregnancy) and high blood pressure
- Reduce the length of labour and delivery complications
- Help in postnatal recovery
What type of exercise is best?
It should be something that you enjoy, feel comfortable doing and can work into your daily routine. Over-exertion may result in overheating which can affect the development of the baby, so exercise safely at a low to moderate intensity.
Low impact exercise is recommended to reduce strain on your joints. Examples include:
- Using an exercise bike
- Using a cross-trainer
- Aqua-aerobic classes
- Low-impact aerobic classes
- Endurance light weight training
- Pelvic floor muscle training
- Deep abdominal (transversus abdominus) muscle training
- Antenatal Pilates
- Antenatal yoga
What type of exercise should I avoid?
You should avoid high impact exercise, contact sports and other activities that may result in a heavy fall. Examples of exercise to avoid include:
- step aerobics
- ball sports
- racquet sports
- scuba diving
- walking at high altitude
- heavy weights
You should stop exercise and seek medical advice if you experience any unusual symptoms such as excessive shortness of breath, chest pain or palpitations, dizziness, painful uterine contractions, abdominal or pelvic pain and excessive fatigue.
Advice for exercising:
- Stop and rest if you feel too hot
- Avoid spas, saunas, solariums, and exercising in hot conditions
- Drink water while you exercise
- Don’t exercise for more than 45 minutes at a time
- Keep your heart rate below 150 beats per minute
- Wear a supportive wireless bra, ideally with wide straps
- Wear supportive shoes (trainers)
- Wear loose, breathable clothing
- Avoid extended periods on your back
- Eat carbohydrates at least 30 minutes before exercising
Which pregnant women should avoid aerobic exercises?
- Women with heart or lung disease
- Women with a weak (incompetent) cervix and those who have undergone cervical stitching (cerclage)
- Multiple pregnancy (twins/triplets) at risk of preterm labour
- Persistent bleeding in second or third trimester
- Placenta praevia (low lying placenta) after 26 weeks of pregnancy
- Women with raised blood pressure in pregnancy
- Severe anemia
- Poorly controlled diabetes or seizure disorder
- Poor growth of baby in current pregnancy (Intrauterine growth restriction)
- Women with premature uterine contractions in current pregnancy
Dear sir, my wife is an pregnant, she completed 5 months. By mistake she took - dicaris adults 150 mg tablet for 20 days for 20 tablets. Is there any impact for baby / women. Kindly suggest any other tests are required?
I am planning for pregnancy my last period was 6th jan now I don't get. So I thought pregnancy and went to hospital. She told me you have to wait for month and she scanned .in that she told you have some bubbles and it is pcod she told. And have me tablet myo-inositol, d-chiro, metformin hydrochloride methylfolate calcium. This is the tablet .my doubt is can I use now this one. Bcoz I want to conceive is there any problem by using this.
Hi my name is aditi, I am pregnant 7.5 weeks and m taking glycomet sr 500 3 times a day and after checking on glycomet the fasting reading is 130 (after reducing the variable value i. E .15percent in machines as compared to lab tests so is it fine?
Hi doctor, I ovulated somewhere between 2nd to 4th february. Do not know the exact date. Now since 4-5 days I am having excessive vomiting tendency in the morning/afternoon and plus feeling dizzy or vertigo. Today also having slight stomach ache. Are this the symptoms of pregnancy? Also I have a problem of irregular periods and last period I got was on 17th january. I was taking himalaya evecare to treat the irregularity. So now should I stop taking evecare or should continue it, if I feel I have conceived. Also Please tell me whether doing pregnancy test soo early will be of any help.
I am 35 year old. I take diane 35 from july 2017. I had intercourse on 6th day of my period. Before 2 days I started diane 35. Is there any chances to get pregnant? Please suggest me.
- Lack of physical activity
- Alcohol consumption
- Advancing age
- No childbirth or no breastfeeding
- Family history of breast cancer
- Early menarche (< 12 years of age) or late menopause ( > 55 years of age)
- History of ovarian cancer or endometrial cancer
- History of benign breast conditions (e.g. atypical hyperplasia) or lobular carcinoma in situ
- Receiving hormonal replacement therapy (HRT)
- History of receiving radiation therapy to the chest before age of 30
- Have regular physical activities, do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activities per week (e.g. climbing stairs or brisk walking)
- Avoid alcohol drinking;
- Maintain a healthy body weight and waist circumference - aim for a body mass index (BMI) between 18.5 and 22.9, and a waist circumference of not more than 80cm for women; and
- Have childbirth at an earlier age and breastfeed each child for longer duration factors include:
What are the common symptoms of breast cancer?
The symptoms of breast cancer may not be easily noticed at an early stage. Any of the following changes in the breast can be a symptom of breast cancer:
• Breast lump;
• A change in the size or shape of the breast;
• A change in skin texture of the breast or nipple (e.g. red, scaly, thickened or “orange-skin” appearance);
• Rash around the nipple;
• In-drawing of the nipple;
• Discharge from one or both nipples;
• New and persistent discomfort or pain in the breast or armpit; and
• A new lump or thickening in the armpit
What is breast cancer screening? Should I screen for breast cancer if I do not have any symptom?
Screening means examining people without symptoms in order to detect disease or fi nd people at increased risk of disease. It is often the fi rst step in making a defi nitive diagnosis. For breast cancer screening, its purpose is to fi nd women who have breast cancer, before they have any symptom, in order to offer them earlier treatment.
Mammography is widely used as a screening tool. It is an X-ray examination of the breasts. During mammography, the breast is pressed between 2 plates to flatten and spread the breast tissue, in order to obtain a clear image. Some women may find it uncomfortable or painful but the discomfort is usually short lasting. Mammography screening is safe in general and only a very small dose of radiation is used in the procedure. One in 5 female breast cancer patients may be missed by mammography.
What is Cervical Cancer?
Cancer is a disease in which cells in the body grow out of control. When these abnormal cells are present in the cervix, it is called cervical cancer, or cancer of the cervix.
Screening Prevents Cervical Cancer and Saves Lives:
The Pap test can find abnormal cells in the cervix. These cells may, over time, turn into cancer. This could take several years to happen. If the results of a Pap test show there are abnormal cells that could become cancerous, a woman can be treated. In most cases, this treatment prevents cervical cancer from developing.
Pap tests can also find cervical cancer early. When it is found early, the chance of being cured is very high. The most important thing you can do to avoid getting cervical cancer is to have regular Pap tests.
Any woman who has a cervix can get cervical cancer, especially if she or her sexual partner has had sex with several other partners. Most often, cervical cancer develops in women aged 40 or older. Abnormal cells in the cervix and cervical cancer don’t always cause symptoms, especially at first. That’s why getting tested for cervical cancer is important, even if there are no symptoms.
The Pap test, also called the Pap smear, is a cervical cancer screening test. It is not used to detect other kinds of cancer. It is done in a doctor’s office or a clinic.
During the test, the doctor or nurse uses a plastic or metal instrument, called a speculum, to widen the vagina. This helps to examine the vagina and the cervix, and collect a few cells from the cervix. These cells are placed on a slide and sent to a laboratory to be checked for abnormal cells.
Who Should Have a Pap Test?
Doctors recommend that women begin having regular Pap tests and pelvic exams at age 21, or within three years of the first time they have sexual intercourse – whichever happens first. After a woman has a Pap test each year for three years in a row, and test results show there are no problems, she can then get the Pap test once every 2-3 years.
Who Does Not Need to be Tested?
The only women who do not need regular Pap tests are:
- Those over age 65 who have had regular Pap tests with normal results
- Women who do not have a cervix. This includes women whose cervix was removed as part of an operation to remove the uterus. (The surgery is called a hysterectomy.) However, a small number of women who have had this operation still have a cervix and should continue having regular Pap tests. If you’re not sure whether you have a cervix, speak to your doctor about it.
How Do I Prepare for the Pap Test?
To prepare for the Pap test, doctors recommend that for two days before the test you should avoid:
- Using tampons
- Having sexual intercourse
- Using birth control foams, creams, or jellies or vaginal medications or creams
Try to schedule your Pap test for a time when you are not having your menstrual period.
When Will I Get the Results?
It can take up to three weeks to receive Pap test results. Most results are normal. There are many reasons that Pap test results can be abnormal, and usually it does not mean you have cancer.
Labour is painful - ask your doctor to explain what's available so you can decide what's best for you. Remember that you need to keep an open mind. You may find you want more pain relief than you'd planned, or your doctor or midwife may suggest more effective pain relief to help the delivery.
Self-help in labour
You're likely to feel more relaxed in labour and better placed to cope with the pain if you:
learn about labour – this can make you feel more in control and less frightened about what's going to happen; talk to your doctor, ask them questions, and go to antenatal classes
learn how to relax, stay calm, and breathe deeply
keep moving – your position can make a difference, so try kneeling, walking around, or rocking backwards and forwards
have a bath in early labour
Gas and air (Entonox) for labour
This is a mixture of oxygen and nitrous oxide gas. Gas and air won't remove all the pain, but it can help reduce it and make it more bearable. Many women like it because it's easy to use and they control it themselves.
You breathe in the gas and air through a mask or mouthpiece, which you hold yourself. The gas takes about 15-20 seconds to work, so you breathe it in just as a contraction begins. It works best if you take slow, deep breaths.
there are no harmful side effects for you or the baby
it can make you feel light-headed
some women find that it makes them feel sick, sleepy or unable to concentrate – if this happens, you can stop using it
If gas and air doesn't give you enough pain relief, you can ask for a painkilling injection as well.
Pethidine injections in labour
This is an injection of the drug pethidine into your thigh or buttock to relieve pain. It can also help you to relax. It takes about 20 minutes to work after the injection. The effects last between two and four hours, so wouldn't be recommended if you're getting close to the pushing (second) stage of labour.
There are some side effects to be aware of:
it can make some women feel nauseous, sick and forgetful
if pethidine is given too close to the time of delivery, they may affect the baby's breathing – if this happens, another drug to reverse the effect will be given
the drugs can interfere with the baby's first feed
An epidural is a special type of anaesthetic. It numbs the nerves that carry the pain impulses from the birth canal to the brain. It shouldn't make you sick or drowsy.
For most women, an epidural gives complete pain relief. It can be helpful for women who are having a long or particularly painful labour.
An anaesthetist is the only person who can give an epidural. If you think you might want one, check whether anaesthetists are always available at your hospital. How much you can move your legs after an epidural depends on the local anaesthetic used. However, this also requires the baby's heart rate to be monitored.
An epidural can provide very good pain relief, but it's not always 100% effective in labour. One in eight women who have an epidural during labour need to use other methods of pain relief.
How does an epidural work?
To have an epidural:
A drip will run fluid through a needle into a vein in your arm.
While you lie on your side or sit up in a curled position, an anaesthetist will clean your back with antiseptic, numb a small area with some local anaesthetic, and then introduce a needle into your back.
A very thin tube will be passed through the needle into your back near the nerves that carry pain impulses from the uterus. Drugs (usually a mixture of local anaesthetic and opioid) are administered through this tube. It takes about 10 minutes to set up the epidural, and another 10-15 minutes for it to work. It doesn't always work perfectly at first and may need adjusting.
The epidural can be topped up through a machine.
Your contractions and the baby's heart rate will need to be continuously monitored. This means having a belt around your abdomen.
Side-effects of epidurals in labour
There are some side effects to be aware of:
An epidural may make your legs feel heavy, depending on the local anaesthetic used.
Your blood pressure can drop (hypotension), but this is rare because the fluid given through the drip in your arm helps to maintain good blood pressure.
Epidurals can prolong the second stage of labour. If you can no longer feel your contractions, the midwife will have to tell you when to push. This means that forceps or a ventouse may be needed to help deliver the baby's head (instrumental delivery). When you have an epidural, your midwife or doctor will wait longer for the baby's head to come down (before you start pushing), as long as the baby is showing no signs of distress. This reduces the chance you'll need an instrumental delivery. Sometimes less anaesthetic is given towards the end, so the effect wears off and you can feel to push the baby out naturally.
You may find it difficult to pass urine as a result of the epidural. If so, a small tube called a catheter may be put into your bladder to help you.
About 1 in 100 women gets a headache after an epidural. If this happens, it can be treated.
Your back might be a bit sore for a day or two, but epidurals don't cause long-term backache.
About 1 in 2,000 women feels tingles or pins and needles down one leg after having a baby. This is more likely to be the result of childbirth itself rather than the epidural. You'll be advised by the doctor or midwife when you can get out of bed.