Exercise During Pregnancy
Unfortunately it is common for women in our society to unintentionally start pursuing unhealthy life habits the moment they know they are pregnant! they immediately stop exercising and they truly believe that they should be eating for two!
I , personally continued exercising regularly during my pregnancy but always heard funny comments from people advising me to stop. People generally believe that a pregnant woman should just stay home and relax. Contrary to common belief, exercising throughout early pregnancy does not increase the incidence of either miscarriage or birth defects in healthy women.
So if your doctor gives you the green light to continue your fitness regimen or even advises you to start exercising while pregnant, you can look forward to the following benefits that will affect your life and the life of your beloved baby:
1- A healthier Baby: Recent studies and observations have shown that all aspects of growth and development after birth are better for babies born by exercising mothers than those for babies of mothers who chose not to exercise.
2- Regaining pre-pregnancy weight faster: Your body will be in a better shape after having a baby than before pregnancy. Your body has to work so hard during pregnancy even without exercise, so when you add exercise to the equation, your breathing, blood volume and muscles work even harder, improving your overall fitness.
3- Improving stamina and increasing levels of energy: Exercise increases the ability of hemoglobin to carry oxygen, therefore with each breath more oxygen is delivered to the tissues. This, in its turn puts less strain on the heart which increases stamina, and increases the number of mitochondria (the little particles in our cells that are responsible for producing energy) in the muscle cells which increases energy production, strength and muscle endurance.
4- Improving blood circulation which will lead to less swelling: Exercise increases blood flow to and from all your body organs. This will help in efficiently carrying back blood and fluids form our tissues , thus helping in reducing swelling and, preventing the formation of varicose veins.
Exercise can also stimulate the growth of your placenta and increases its ability in providing your child with the necessary nutrients.
5- Reduction of fat deposition and limiting weight gain: Exercise will increase your muscle mass and it will teach your body how to use fat as an energy source, which will increase your metabolism. This in its turn will limit weight gain..
6- Enjoying a faster postpartum recovery: Women who used to exercise during pregnancy tend to start exercising again a few weeks after delivery, which can facilitate rapid physical and emotional recovery. This was also linked to women spending some quality solo time.
7- Feeling better about yourself and in general: Women who exercise usually have a positive self-image, and a better perspective of their appearance and physical strength compared to their non-exercising peers.
8- Having a less complicated labor: Women who exercise on a regular basis have a better ability to cope with pain during labor, because they are accustomed to feeling some muscular pain and discomfort associated with moderate exercise.
9- Decreased chances of having back problems: Pregnant women with strong abdominal and back muscles tend to have a reduced incidence of lower back discomfort throughout pregnancy.
Now that you know the benefits of exercising during pregnancy, please note the following:
1- In order to get the best results, a pregnant mama needs to exercise 3-5 times a week for a minimum of 20-40 minutes.
2- The intensity of the exercise should measure at a scale of 5-8 on the pregnancy intensity scale. You can personally measure this as follows: you should be able to speak while you are exercising but you shouldn’t be able to sing!
3- Start with a warm-up. This is important to slightly elevate your heart rate as you start exercising. Also finish with a cool down, to slowly lower your heart rate back to normal. This will reduce dizziness and protect your muscles at the same time.
So finally, if you’ve been having second thoughts on whether to exercise or not while pregnant, I can assure you that as long as you don’t have any complications, and if you listen carefully to your body to know when you should stop, then exercising can be one of the best things you can do for yourself and your baby.