Usually experts recommend maintaining a regular and light exercise routine during pregnancy, but women like Australian nutritionist and fitness model Sophie Guidolin, and American athlete Alysia Montano opted for a different approach during their three trimesters.
Guidolin actively advocated heavy exercise. Pictures of her lifting weights in her 26th week of pregnancy went viral on social media three weeks ago, drawing criticism. On a social networking site, she wrote, "A lot of people express concern over women exercising in pregnancy and I 110% understand why. There are so many myths, old wives tales & opinions out there it is hard to understand what the truth is and what is made up. In my opinion, listen to no one except your qualified & trusted medical staff (sic)." Montano, on the other hand, made headlines last year for completing an 800metre race in less than three minutes, when she was eight months pregnant.
While one may or may not agree with their workout philosophies, gynaecologists and fitness experts accept that many women tend to avoid exercising during pregnancy — a myth they would like to see busted. They admit that a light fitness routine, in fact, helps boost energy levels, improves overall health and prepares the body for labour.
Deepali Jain, an aqua workout specialist, says, “I have trained with almost 13 pregnant women, and I feel expecting mothers should exercise. It promotes flexibility of the joints and relaxes the muscles, thus promoting an easy delivery.”
Taking note, we list a few more myths that can be done away with.
* Myth: Do prenatal yoga for normal labour
Reality: There is no study to substantiate that prenatal yoga results in normal labour.
* Myth: Abdominal workouts are unsafe
Reality: Not only are they safe, but they also strengthen your abdominal and pelvic muscles — a must during pregnancy.
* Myth: You should eat for two
Reality: You only need to increase your intake of iron, calcium, and folic acid and other essential vitamins. Avoid sugar, spices and deep-fried food. The ideal weight gain during pregnancy is 7-11kg.
* Myth: An occasional glass of beer or wine is allowed
Reality: Experts agree that consumption of alcohol is avoidable during pregnancy, even in moderation.
* Myth: Herbal tea is a safe alternative to coffee and tea
Reality: Studies show that one to two cups of coffee or tea have no negative effects on pregnant women or their babies, but little is known about herbal teas.
* Myth: Iron supplements will make the baby dark
Reality: Skin colour is determined by the genes, and has nothing to do with the iron intake.
* Myth: Multiple ultrasonographies (USGs) harm the baby
Reality: USGs are completely safe, and help in the correct diagnosis of the foetus.
* Myth: Passive smoking is acceptable
Reality: Passive smoking is equally dangerous, and increases the risk of birth-related defects.
* Myth: Eating a lot of ghee during the last trimester will ease the birthing process
Reality: There is no connection between the birth passage and the digestive tract.
* Myth: The body will never recover from pregnancy
Reality: Regular antenatal exercise, use of stretch mark creams and minimising excess weight gain during pregnancy can help women get back in shape after they give birth.
—With inputs from Dr Kiran Coelho, consultant gynaecologist and obstetrician, Hinduja Healthcare Surgical, Khar (W); and Dr Bandita Sinha, gynaecologist and obstetrician at Fortis Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi.