Mama Wellness pregnancy fitness expert Nina Parnham explains why it’s vital that you exercise in pregnancy.
There are always people out there telling pregnant ladies that the best option is to quit the gym and ‘put your feet up’ and rest, but this is certainly not effective in terms of building up your strength and stamina to cope with the demands of your pregnancy and in preparation for your birth and postnatal recovery period.
Pregnant women need to be training for function that is, using the muscle groups that support their pregnant body ensuring that they maintain or develop a healthy posture and utilise the muscles that would otherwise become tight and inactive, leading to problems in the postnatal period.
Why Movement Matters in Pregnancy
Studies have shown that the benefits of women who move more during pregnancy begin immediately and last your whole life. There are so many reasons why fitness is beneficial. Although a small percentage of pregnant women with a high-risk pregnancy will be advised to avoid moderate workouts in their pregnancy, most women should start an exercise regime right away.
Reasons why you SHOULD exercise in pregnancy
Here are 20 reasons why you must get off the couch and either go for a power walk, sign up to your local pregnancy fitness class or call a specialist in pregnancy training:
- You will have more energy. Even if that workout seems too hard to even think about, once you’ve started it you’ll be surmised how much energy you have afterwards. Plus most women report that they sleep better after exercise, and sleep helps to recharge your batteries.
- Women who exercise throughout pregnancy have a better body image than those who don’t.
- Your labour may be shorter. A study found that among women who delivered vaginally, those who had continued exercising throughout their pregnancy experienced an active labour which was two hours less than those who stopped training early on.
- If you work out in water, you enjoy a wonderful sense of weightlessness and swimming or water aerobics provides relief from uncomfortable foot and ankle swelling.
- You’ll recover faster after your birth and be able to socialise and enjoy hobbies.
- You are likely to gain less weight. Research shows on average women who work out put on ½ stone less than pregnant women who don’t, while still staying within the healthy range.
- Labour and birth is likely to be easier. With a stronger body and fitter heart and lungs you will have more stamina for birth. One study found that prenatal water aerobics regulars were 58 percent less likely to request pain medication during labour than non-exercisers.
- You lower your gestational diabetes risk by as much as 27 percent.
- Pregnant ladies who are active report better moods than those who are sedentary both immediately following a workout and in general throughout their pregnancies.
- Up to two-thirds of women experience back pain in their pregnancy, but water workouts and stretching can offer relief. Exercise during the second half of pregnancy seems to be especially helpful.
- You’re less likely to get constipated. Pregnant women’s digestive systems slow down due to the effect of progesterone and Relaxin hormones exercise, along with good nutrition keeps your stomach and intestines working well.
- You’re more likely to avoid an instrumental birth and have less chance of intervention during your labour. Research has found that regular exercisers are 75 percent less likely to need a forceps delivery, 55 percent less likely to have an episiotomy and up to 4 times less likely to have a caesarean section.
- You are less likely to develop a cold when carrying out moderate exercise as your immune system functions much better than if you are sedentary.
- You may be less prone to morning sickness. Though nausea stops many women from exercising, many pregnant ladies report feeling less sick after a workout or that the exercise can act as a distraction.
- Exercise improves blood flow and can therefore reduce the amount of swelling you experience. Women who exercise in water when pregnant notice that their legs and feet are less puffy.
- You are less likely to develop postnatal depression. Your feel good hormones known as endorphins increase when you exercise which can keep your mood balanced you feel more cheerful.
- Mums who exercise regularly throughout their pregnancy tend to give birth to leaner babies. This is good news for your new-born as babies born with excess fat are significantly more likely to become overweight in childhood.
- Your child may have a healthier heart. The developing babies of prenatal exercisers have more efficient hearts than those of non-exercisers, and this higher cardio fitness level seems to last into the childhood years.
- Your children may grow up to be smarter. Some research indicates that kids of mums who work out during pregnancy have better memories, in addition to higher scores on intelligence and language tests.
- The sense of accomplishment and confidence spills over to the rest of your life. Completing a pregnancy workout can make you feel like you can conquer anything!
Now that you know of the many reasons why exercise is good for you, contact Mama Wellness for advice on how you can get active in your pregnancy.