It used to be thought that women should rest and take it easy while pregnant. It was even recommended that women should not exercise during pregnancy as it might pose risks to the fetus. Though there are contraindications for some certain conditions and high risk pregnancies (please see the ACOG guidelines page on this blog for the recommendations and contraindications) exercise is good for both the baby and mother.
There are so many benefits of exercising for both baby and mother. Below is a list of research backed benefits.
Benefits for the Mama
- Regular exercise reduces pregnancy weight gain and fat deposition
- Helps reduce backaches, constipation, bloating and swelling
- May prevent or treat gestational diabetes
- Decreases physical discomfort and hastens recovery
- Weight bearing exercise throughout pregnancy can lead to shorter and less complicated labors
- Increases your energy
- Improves your posture
- Promotes muscle tone, strength and endurance
- Helps you sleep better
- Helps you get back to your pre-pregnancy weight faster
Benefits for the Baby
- Regular exercise improves baby’s ability to deal effectively with the intermittent reductions in uterine blood flow and oxygen deliver that are a part of everyday life
- Studies showed that newborns of exercising moms had an easier time transitioning to life outside the uterus and tended to be alert
- Babies of exercising moms tend to deal with stresses of late pregnancy and labor more effectively
Other surprising benefits
- At any rate of uterine blood flow more oxygen and nutrients can get across to the baby of a woman who exercises than to the baby of one who does not
- Pregnant women who exercise can deal with heat stress better. Due to this tolerance, pregnant women when exercising with proper hydration and in acceptable workout conditions, the baby’s temperature rising too high during exercise is usually a non-issue.
- Recreational exercise may actually decrease the chances of both premature labor and the birth of a very small baby.
Next week I will talk about myths of exercising while pregnant, why the 140 bpm rule is 20 years outdated and much more!
As always, I would love to hear from you!
Exercising through Your Pregnancy, Dr. James Clapp, 2002
FAQ’s, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 2011