Why exercise during pregnancy?

What are the benefits of exercise during pregnancy?

Of course the biggest question and concern for an expectant mama with everything is, is this safe for me and my baby?

Exercise in pregnancy can have major benefits for both you and your baby. There is a lot of strong scientific evidence to show maintaining moderate exercise during pregnancy is safe and beneficial for both you and your little one. I am going to help you through the myths and give you the facts, scientific research and my personal view as a mum.

What are the benefits of prenatal exercise?​

Reduce pregnancy symptoms​

I’m sure if you’re like me & all the other mums in the world you have some very strange google searches! Some might be along the lines of ‘is xxxx normal in pregnancy’ ‘can you get xxxxxxx in pregnancy’ ‘is xxxxxx a pregnancy symptom’ ‘when does xxxxxx pregnancy symptom stop’. Insert your symptom xxxxxx, some of the more ‘normal’ searches I know I did were ‘sore ribs’ ‘hip pain’ ‘swollen ankles’.

Now, please always remember, 100% if you have any symptoms, questions or anything you’re unsure about, your first go to should always be your midwife. You will have her number on the front of your maternity notes. But I know we all can’t help a google search & the worst thing to do is self-diagnose.

So who wouldn’t want to help lower back pain, keep away those swollen ankles, improve your mood, help tame those hormones and lots of other reductions in symptoms during pregnancy. Exercise can help you do all of this and it has a huge impact on how your body adjusts & deals with these changes.

Improved mood and increased energy​

Prenatal exercise actually gives you energy (as long as you’re not exhausting yourself) and it improves your mood which is always a bonus.

Build strength for birth​

You’ve probably heard the term ‘birth is like a marathon’ & I can say from my experience it is (but it was way more exciting than running a marathon for me!). It’s a great way to think about it. You have 9 months allowing you to mentally & physically get ready to meet & birth your little one. It definitely does NOT mean you need a strict full on workout schedule like a marathon but exercising, keeping active & doing safe and effective exercise will help you so much through pregnancy, birth & postpartum.

If you think about it, imagine stopping all exercise and sitting on the sofa (which a few decades ago was the advice for mums) and then running a marathon or giving birth. It is going to take a lot to get through it. Now picture keeping active, exercising a couple of times a week and doing something each day to help you finish that marathon. Like your pelvic floor exercises, a daily brisk walk and a few specific pregnancy workouts to strengthen and balance your body a few times a week. Your body is going to be far more prepared & much happier & capable to take you to the finish line.

It’s all about building up some strength & endurance for your body and when the time is right & your little one is ready, your body will do all of the work for you. You won’t even have to think about it.

Shorter second stage of labour​

Who doesn’t want a shorter labour? There’s a lot of solid scientific evidence to show that being active during pregnancy does actually reduce the length of 2nd stage labour. Part of this is due to the muscles remaining active & having built strength & endurance, so they are more ready and capable.

Improved mood and increased energy​

Prenatal exercise actually gives you energy (as long as you’re not exhausting yourself) and it improves your mood which is always a bonus.

Quicker and more effective postnatal recovery

Have you heard of muscle memory? By using your muscles throughout pregnancy, keeping them firing and active will make it much easier for them to switch on and fire together following birth. Don’t forget it’s taken 9 months to grow your baby, and that’s 9 months of your body changing. It will take time to recover, but exercising during pregnancy will help it remember those habits and knit back together quicker. Just remember you also have the fourth trimester and it’s in this time you really do need to allow your body to heal and recover.

Prevention of excessive weight gain​

I just want to start by saying weight gain in pregnancy is healthy and normal, it’s not something to avoid. But by keeping active you reduce the risk of excessive weight gain and gain the healthy amount of weight needed to grow your baby. Excessive weight gain in pregnancy can increase your risk of intergenerational transmission of obesity to your little one.

Lowers the risk of​

Prenatal exercise also lowers the risk of pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, lower back pain, pelvic pain and urinary incontinence. Some major factors that can make your pregnancy smoother and more comfortable if you don’t have these symptoms.

I hope you feel empowered to keep exercising or start exercising during your pregnancy and if you’d still like some more support and advice you can download our free guide on how to adapt exercise during pregnancy.

Lucy is a pre & postnatal corrective exercise specialist and mum. She is on a mission to empower, educate and inspire women during pregnancy and motherhood to feel fit, healthy and body confident.

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