AWARENESS AND PRACTICE OF EXERCISE AMONG PREGNANT MOTHERS IN UKANAFUN LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA, AKWA IBOM STATE
A healthy woman is the most important bond in the family which in turn becomes an important factor in society. Pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum are events in the life of women that influences all aspects of their lives. Pregnancy is an important period of life that may put them at decreased physical activity.
Some studies have reported that the physical performance of women, their level of health and well-being decreases after children compared to the pre-pregnancy period, having a negative effect on their quality of life (Bahadroram and Mohamadirizi, 2015).
It could be noted that many expectant mothers can anticipate experiencing significant psychological reactions to the process, often including magnification of current conflict and marked changes in emotions, relationships, and behavior. This is in contrast to viewing pregnancy solely as a physical event.
According to Anwana (2012), one function of the family is to provide an environment that promotes the natural development of personality and offers psychological protection to its members. Maintaining such an environment during pregnancy requires stable emotional health, physical health, common bonds of affection between individuals, and the ability to be mutually supportive, tolerate stress, and cope with crises as they arise.
The advent of pregnancy is a major transition in the woman’s life cycle Anwana(2012), it brings with it the sometimes daunting prospect of assuming additional roles of mothering and caretaking.
It is often a time of life marked by mixed emotions, the fulfillment of needs and desires, and the emergence of a myriad of conflicts and anxieties. The mother-to-be is faced with a change in lifestyle that will affect her forever. There will be alterations in the family unit, for example, the addition of the role of nurturer and caregiver to that of sexual partner, and possibly loss of freedom and a decrease in social interaction.
According to Anwana(2012), many women experience marked fatigue, while some experience physical discomfort, in particular nausea, in the early stages of pregnancy. However, to cope with these issues during pregnancy, Wang and Apgar(2000) note that physical activity is a very important aspect of good health.
Exercise is very important irrespective of age and especially for pregnant women as it helps them overcome pregnancy-related complications and maintain good physical fitness. “Exercise during pregnancy does not only help in maintaining musculoskeletal fitness but also helps in controlling weight, maintaining blood glucose, to cope with various psychological and physical stresses during pregnancy and labor, strengthening muscles for labor and improves blood circulation”(Olufemi, Florence Bengami, 2014).
Kegel’s exercise is a commonly followed prenatal exercise used to strengthen pelvic floor muscles which may stretch during delivery, hence, prepare for labour(Park, Kang, Jang and Kim, 2013). To cope with emotional stresses and labour pain, breathing techniques and relaxation techniques are proved to be successful(Green, 2013). Ante-natal exercise also decreases adipose tissue growth; increases stress tolerance and advances neuro behavioral relaxation in the foetus (Clapp, 2010).
The quality of life during pregnancy and postpartum is still uncertain. Therefore, assessing the quality of life of pregnant women will provide important evidence to improve health related services of our country in general and Ukanafun in particular.
Furthermore, studies have proven that physical exercise in antenatal period helps pregnant mothers in reducing complications of pregnancy, reduce the time spent in labor (Du, 2015) and helps faster post-delivery recovery (Arati, 2014). It is a fact that the role of physical activities and exercises increases the effectiveness of maternal healthcare. Many mothers suffer in silence and are unaware of available physiotherapy interventions.
The researcher observed that, pregnant mothers who attend antenatal care are unaware of physiotherapy interventions, which are practiced in antenatal period. It is assumed due to lack of awareness a lot of pregnant mothers fail to get the advantage of physiotherapy intervention that can improve their quality of lives and relieve their suffering.
The researcher was motivated to carry out the present study to investigate the extent to which awareness of practice of exercise related to pregnant mothers in Ukanafun Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State.
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