Fitness Benefits Pregnancy
By: Monica Cooke
Pregnancy used to be a time where moms-to-be were told to sit back, relax, and concentrate on growing a healthy baby. It was thought that exercise was a danger to both mom and baby. During that generation, it was all too common to see moms experience the unhealthy repercussions of inactivity. Thanks to copious amounts of research in this area, we now know that “a moderate level of exercise on a regular basis during a low risk pregnancy has minimal risk for the fetus and beneficial metabolic and cardio respiratory effects for the exercising woman” (1). We also know that “exercise during pregnancy can help prepare you for labour and childbirth. Exercising afterward can help get you back in shape” (2)
Many women welcome the freedom to remain active during their pregnancy. Yet they still wonder what the benefits are and what type and amount of exercise is safe for them. There are numerous health benefits of exercise to both mom and baby. Here is a short list of some of these benefits:
- Strengthen postural muscles to support the body’s changes during pregnancy
- Strengthen pelvic floor and abdominal muscles to help support the weight of baby belly
- Decreased risk of gestational diabetes
- Improved energy levels and self-esteem
- Improve mom’s strength and endurance which will prepare you for labour and childbirth
- Help improve outcomes of pre and postpartum depression
- Improve baby’s cardiovascular functioning which will help baby cope with the birthing process
Always pay attention to how you are feeling during and after an activity. Your body is still recovering from pregnancy and childbirth as well as the newly incorporated exercise. Everyone recovers at a different pace. Watch for any of the following warning signs that you might be over doing it: heavy bleeding or an increase in bleeding; pain anywhere; breast tenderness or infection. If you are concerned, visit your doctor to talk about the safest exercise regime for you.
No matter what type of activity you choose to do, consider the following:
- Exercise regularly three or more times a week. Consistency will help achieve your goals!
- Be sure the exercise you are performing is pain-free.
- Get adequate rest.
- Be sure you are consuming enough calories to support both breastfeeding (if you are nursing) and exercise.
- Have fun!
Many women view pregnancy as a time to make healthy lifestyle changes which will benefit not only themselves but their babies. One of the best gifts you can give your children is healthy lifestyle that results from active living.
Monica Cooke is a Pre and Postnatal Fitness Specialist, and a mom of two.