There are numerous and outstanding benefits of prenatal exercise for both the mother and her developing baby. The most obvious is that exercise improves and maintains physical fitness and overall health and wellness of a pregnant woman. There are many other benefits that you will reap if you exercise during your pregnancy:
1. Reduces The Risk Of Pregnancy Complications
Pregnant women who perform sufficient exercises are less likely to develop complications during the pregnancy and even during birth. Prenatal exercise is extremely important as it can help to alleviate the common discomforts of pregnancy. Doing some stretches and yoga eases back pain, improves blood circulation, and strengthens your abdominal muscles. Moreover, it helps to prepare your body for labor and delivery.
2. Boosts Your Energy
Pregnancy saps your energy, but with adequate exercise, you can get through your daily tasks or cope with a demanding schedule more easily. Exercise strengthens your cardiovascular system so that you do not tire as easily.
3. Improves Your Sleep
As pregnancy progresses, it becomes even harder to find a comfortable sleeping position, let alone falling asleep. But with consistent exercise, you can tire out enough to lull into a more restful sleep and wake up feeling more rested. Sleep is very important as it allows your body and your mind to re-charge.
4. Helps You Get Your Body Back Faster After Childbirth
Proper exercise through your pregnancy ensures that your body will have an easier time bouncing back after giving birth. In addition, you reduce your chances of putting on excess weight during your pregnancy and after you give birth.
5. Reduces Stress
Pregnancy is a major cause of stress in women on top of other stressors that are already in your daily life. Additionally, pregnant women are more susceptible to depression. Sufficient exercise boosts the production of serotonin and brain chemicals that uplift one’s spirit while diminishing stress and anxiety.
6. Helps With Constipation
Unfortunately, constipation is one of the downsides of being pregnant. During pregnancy there is an increase in the hormone progesterone which in turn increases the relaxation of muscles in the digestive tract and everything slows down. Physical activity encourages active bowels. Supplement exercise with fibre-rich foods and you should be flowing naturally before you know it.
3 Things To Know Before You Begin A Prenatal Exercise Routine
So now that we know that exercising while pregnant can be a very beneficial thing to do, there are some things you will want to think about before you start a prenatal exercise program.
1. Have You Exercised Before?
Your current physical fitness level is a definitive factor when it comes to preparing your prenatal activity program. If you have not been training constantly and you just now chose to start because you’ve heard about the excellent benefits exercising has during pregnancy, then you need to step into it gradually. The great thing regarding exercising when you are expectant is maybe you never want to do it over. You can push yourself to the ends when you’re not pregnant, but during this time of your life calm down. Gradually increase your workouts length and difficulty. If you have been exercising regularly before getting pregnant, you can continue with your normal exercise program but with some precautions. Like stated before, you don’t want to do it over even if you are very physically fit. During pregnancy, you don’t want your heart rate to get above 140 during exercise. Your heart rate will be faster anyways during this time due so this is something you want to pay attention too.
2. Why Should You Exercise When You’re Pregnant?
There are numerous benefits of exercising while you are pregnant. How would you like an easier labor, faster recovery time from delivery, and an easier time losing the extra baby weight you put on during pregnancy? All three sound pretty good. Your exercise goals are different when you become pregnant. You aren’t trying to fit into a smaller outfit or lose the last 5 pounds before beach season. It’s all about preparing yourself for pregnancy making it easier on you and the baby.
3. When Should You Not Exercise?
Sometimes during pregnancy, it wouldn’t be wise for you to exercise. If you experience dizziness, nausea, excessive sweating, swelling, vaginal bleeding or abdominal pain, or hot/cold flashes, then you should just stop exercising and see your physician. All of these can be warning signs and shouldn’t be overlooked.
The Best Way To Exercise While Pregnant
Gentle exercise is the key here; in fact, it has been shown that excessive exercise during pregnancy can increase your risk of giving birth to a low-birth-weight baby. Good choices for exercise during pregnancy are walking, swimming, stationary bike riding, low impact aerobics and in fact prenatal exercise classes. Kegel or the pelvic floor exercises are also recommended as during pregnancy an enormous strain is set on the pelvic floor which can lead to indulgence post pregnancy in addition to significantly reduced sexual sensitivity. Many Pilates classes offer specific exercises for strengthening the pelvic floor and abdominal muscles, these are obviously the main muscle groups used during childbirth which has led many to dub Pilates the “wonder” exercise for pregnancy!
Warm up slowly with all exercise and don’t strain, if you are huffing and puffing, you are probably trying too hard. You should aim to be slightly out of breath but still able to hold a conversation. Start small and build up gradually, always finish your workouts feeling energized. Aim to build up to 20-30 minutes, 2-3 times per week. If you feel drained or are shaking/trembling after exercise, then you are doing too much! Avoid the sauna or hot tub after a workout as this can harm your baby.
After the 28th week of pregnancy, you should start to decrease both the length and exertion of your workouts, don’t stop altogether, just start a gentle wind down and start taking things a bit easier.
There you have it. If you have never exercised before conceiving, there’s much you can gain from adopting an appropriate exercise program while pregnant, and beyond