Exercising During Pregnancy – When you’re struggling to keep a meal down during the first trimester of pregnancy, dealing with a changing body in the second, or huffing and puffing just to make it to the bathroom as you near your due date, hitting the gym might be…….
When you’re struggling to keep a meal down during the first trimester of pregnancy, dealing with a changing body in the second. or huffing and puffing just to make it to the bathroom as you near your due date, hitting the gym might be the last thing on your mind.
But a growing body of research suggests that exercise has big benefits for both you and your baby. Even a simple walk around the block or a session of stretching can lead to an improved mood, better sleep. an easier labor and a quicker recovery. So if you need some motivation to lace up those dusty sneakers, here it is.
Benefits of Pregnancy Exercise for Moms
For all of your adult life, you’ve probably been aware that exercising — whether that means a yoga class, bike ride or run — can help you keep the pounds off and help prevent diseases like type 2 diabetes.
During pregnancy, there are even more reasons to keep moving — or get moving, even if you haven’t had an exercise routine in the past.
Exercising during pregnancy has been found to:
- Reduce risk of pregnancy complications: In a 2017 study, women who participated in fitness programs were less likely to develop gestational diabetes. and less likely to have unplanned cesarean sections than those who didn’t exercise.
- Lower odds of delivery complications: In another study on women in Spain, women who exercised three times a week gained less weight during pregnancy and were less likely to have macrosomic babies (or babies weighing more than about nine pounds at birth). Having a heavier baby, in turn, can lead to complications for both mother and baby during delivery.
- Speed post-delivery recovery: The more you increase your pregnancy fitness, the faster you’ll recover physically after childbirth, the more fit you’ll be after delivery. In a 2012 study, women who exercised recovered faster after labor (even after controlling for delivery method), resuming household chores faster than those who didn’t exercise.
- Boost your mood: Women are more susceptible than ever to depression during pregnancy, with an estimated one in two of all women reporting increased depression or anxiety while they’re expecting. But research has found that exercise during pregnancy reduces depression, releasing endorphins that help improve mood while diminishing stress and anxiety.
- Lower blood pressure: Blood pressure occasionally does go up during pregnancy, but too much and it can be a warning sign of preeclampsia. Staying active — in one study, simply walking regularly — has been found to keep blood pressure from rising.
- Ease back and pelvic pain: It’s no secret that your growing baby bump puts extra pressure on your lower half, resulting in lower back pain and an achy pelvis. Exercising, however, may result in less lower-back and pelvic pain during late pregnancy.
- Fight fatigue. Low-level tiredness plagues many women during the first trimester, then again late in the third trimester.
- While it seems paradoxical, sometimes getting too much rest can actually make you feel more pooped. So, while you should never push yourself to exhaustion, a little nudge — say, an easy walk or try a prenatal yoga class — can make a big difference in your energy level.
- Improve sleep. While many pregnant women report having a harder time falling asleep, those who exercise consistently (as long as it’s not near bedtime, which can be too energizing) say the quality of their sleep is better and that they wake up feeling more rested.
- Relieve constipation. An active body encourages active bowels. Some women swear by a brisk 30-minute walk to keep them regular, while others say even a 10-minute stroll helps get things going.
Exercising During Pregnancy (for Parents)
Of course, all of the above studies look at risk — which means exercising throughout pregnancy doesn’t guarantee a quick recovery or a pain-free back. But healthcare providers generally recommend that doing what exercise you can while you’re pregnant is a great way to have the healthiest (and most comfortable) pregnancy possible.