The latest available statistics show that an average of 60,000 babies are born in Hong Kong each year, which means 60,000 women are taking up the role of being a mother either for the first time or once again.
For them, their babies’ health always comes first, and they nurture the infants with love and care all day every day.
According to a recent research, pregnant women in Asia exercise less regularly than those in other regions. Traditional Asians take the concept of tocolysis (inhibition of uterine contractions) very seriously. They believe pregnant women must always rest and reduce physical activities to the minimum.
In Hong Kong, many expectant mothers refuse to exercise right from the start of pregnancy for fear of harming their unborn children.
But such belief has been refuted by scientific researches on healthy pregnant women worldwide. It has been confirmed that exercise does not bring any negative impact on infants. On the contrary, regular and appropriate exercise benefits both the expectant mother and her baby.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercises each week for healthy pregnant women. Exercises of medium intensity can speed up breathing and heart rates. Simple activities such as walking and stretching also promote sweating.
The many benefits of workouts for pregnant women include strengthening the cardiopulmonary function, preventing gestational diabetes mellitus (glucose intolerance), high blood pressure and weight gain, controlling babies’ birth weight and lowering the risk of prolonged labor. In the long run, exercise prevents cardiovascular diseases and obesity-related illnesses.
Most mothers are too busy taking care of their newborn babies to attend to their own recovery. During the postnatal period, physical activities are as equally important as getting enough sleep and having a balanced diet. Stretching exercises can relieve backache which is common after giving birth, while pelvic floor exercises can prevent postnatal problems like incontinence and uterine prolapse.
A mother’s well-being is fundamental to the health and welfare of the child. Expectant mothers should not neglect their own health or follow conventional health care practices blindly. Those with questions about prenatal and postnatal workouts should consult medical professionals.
Irene Ip Chau-ngan, assistant lecturer of The Nethersole School of Nursing, Faculty of Medicine, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, is a co-author of this article.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Sept. 29
Translation by John Chui
[Chinese version 中文版]
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