Pregnancy and Fitness: Exercise for Expectant Mums
For expectant mums, exercise was once considered risky. But now, most pregnancy specialists agree that regular, mild to moderate exercise not only supports a healthy pregnancy, but also leads to healthier babies and encourages lifelong healthy habits.
I suggest speaking with your doctor, doula or midwife before beginning any type of exercise routine to be on the safe side. Their advice will be the most beneficial as they know your circumstances. They will also prepare you for the change in your diet, help you become educated on delivery options such as cord blood banking, circumcision, and even pain management medicine.
Benefits of Exercise During Pregnancy
Many women, like myself, will experience anxiety concerning exercise during pregnancy. I worried about aspects of exercising while pregnant such as jarring my baby, inducing labour or miscarriage, exhaustion and dehydration. However, I learned that if the proper precautions are taken, exercise can provide many health benefits for pregnant women. A few of those benefits include the following:
Stress, Depression and Anxiety Relief
Pregnancy causes one or more of these symptoms in many women. Exercise leads to an increase of endorphins in the brain, which will calm anxieties and improve mood. I personally love to exercise, even before I was pregnant. Being able to
continue to exercise was a relief!
Most expectant mothers experience exhaustion and sluggishness at some point in their pregnancies. There were days I didn’t feel like getting off the couch, let alone exercising. However, exercise improves blood flow and circulation, and also leads to better, deeper sleep, which will provide boosts in energy that can last throughout the day.
Weight gain is a normal part of pregnancy, however, too much weight gain can lead to more serious conditions such as Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. Exercising while pregnant will also help a woman from gaining too much extra weight that could make her feel tired and sluggish after delivery. A really simple way to keep pregnancy weight gain under control for me was to just do 30 minutes of light to moderate exercise, three more days a week.
Exercise during pregnancy has been shown to promote faster healing after both vaginal and caesarean births, as well as increase of the chances of a healthy, easier labour.
Exercise Options for Expectant Mums
When it comes to pregnancy, some exercises are definitely more preferable than others. Certain exercises have a high risk of injury, and should be avoided by expectant mums. These include climbing, horseback riding, cycling, surfing and
The following exercises come with low risk for injury, but also provide all the benefits of more intense workouts:
Walking a few kilometres burns the same calories and provides the same health benefits as running the same distance. However, walking is easier on the body, which make it a great choice for all women, and especially those expecting a baby. My mum and husband enjoyed taking walks with me during my pregnancy. It was a great time for us to bond!
Swimming provides an excellent cardiovascular workout while putting hardly any stress to the bones, joints and the rest of the body. While pregnant, make sure safety is a top priority. Only swim in shallow water or when a lifeguard is present.
Avoid oceans, lakes and rivers, as they carry high risk of drowning and other injuries. I went to the local fitness center and enjoyed swimming with other pregnant women.
Yoga tones the body while calming the mind, which makes it a wonderful workout option during pregnancy. To be safe, pregnant women who are inexperienced when it comes to yoga should take a class taught by a trained professional as certain poses will not be suitable during pregnancy. Otherwise, there are plenty of DVDs that will guide you through yoga specifically for when you are pregnant.
Risks of Exercise During Pregnancy
Of course, pregnant women have to be especially cautious when it comes to exercise. There are risks associated with exercise during pregnancy, including increased risk of miscarriage, exhaustion and dehydration, as well as injuries stemming from slips and falls (as your center of gravity changes throughout pregnancy and with it, your balance). Always remember to use caution, know when your body is telling enough is enough, and if something doesn’t feel right be sure to check with your primary healthcare provider whether it’s your doctor, doula or midwife.
Pregnancy is a spectacular time in a women’s life. Enjoy every aspect of it, including exercise!
“Katie Moore has written and submitted this article. Katie is an active blogger who discusses the topics of, motherhood, children, fitness, health and all other things Mummy. She enjoys writing, blogging, and meeting new people! To connect with Katie contact her via her blog, Moore From Katie or her twitter, @moorekm26.”
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