Whether you’re currently pregnant, trying or one day plan to be (even if it’s far, far in the future), having a healthy and fit pregnancy is much more than a trend; it’s desirable and vital for both mother and baby.
The challenge is knowing what a fit pregnancy is and how to attain it. In all women, a fit pregnancy consists of being strong and active enough to keep yourself and baby safe and healthy. Exercising for 30 minutes a day, every day of the week, is recommended for a healthy, active, pregnant woman.
Staying active will be difficult during pregnancy due to the “wonderful” myriad changes to your body. However, knowing the overwhelming benefits of having a fit pregnancy will help you understand why you should maintain your fitness (or even start the quest) during pregnancy.
Benefits for the Mother
• Prevention and control of pregnancy-induced medical problems, including gestational diabetes and preeclampsia, which causes high blood pressure and preterm labor
• Reduced pain and discomfort
• Less painful labor and delivery
• Reduced excessive weight gain (10 pounds less than women who don’t exercise)
• Decreased constipation and incontinence (yes, this happens)
• Reduced risk of having a cesarean section or other birth assistance
• Reduced swelling
• Reduced morning sickness
• Improved sleep
• Reduced illness
Mental (all are also benefits for the spouse!)
• Improved mood
• Decreased risk of prenatal and postpartum depression
• More energy
• Improved body image (show off that beautiful pregnancy bump!)
• Improved mental strength and confidence about what your body can tolerate, especially when preparing for labor and birth
Benefits for the Baby
Significant benefits for your baby (or babies) come from being active.
• Reduced amount of excess glucose and fat provided to baby
• Reduced preterm labor risk (keeps the baby developing longer)
• Reduced risk of becoming overweight later in life (according to the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology)
• Reduced risk of developing diabetes later in life
• Improved athletic prowess as children and adults (according to the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology)
• Healthier heart throughout life
• Smarter! Better memory and IQ! (according to the departments of reproductive biology and obstetrics and gynecology at Case Western Reserve University at MetroHealth Medical Center)
• More well-behaved throughout life (if for no other reason, this is enough for me to stay active while pregnant)
HOW to Have a Fit Pregnancy
Exercise 30 minutes every day.
Safe exercises to perform while pregnant:
Run. If you ran before getting pregnant, usually a drop in your weekly mileage will be necessary.
Swim. Swimming makes you feel lighter, reduces swelling and helps you get in a workout that feels closer to your pre-pregnancy fitness level.
Stationary cycling. Once in the second trimester, cycling is not recommended due to the risk of falling. Stationary cycling can be a great alternative and can help you maintain fitness while keeping you safe.
Yoga. Your body is getting more flexible, and delivery will demand that increase in flexibility soon.
Strength training. As your belly grows, you will need to position your legs wider for your squat, and stay away from exercises that put pressure on your abdomen. Use machines to reduce your risk of injury as your balance declines.
• Modified squat
• Arm and leg lifts in quadruped
Listen to Your Body
Be aware of signs that you’re overexerting yourself during activity. These include abdominal cramping, contractions, increased pelvic pressure, pain or any change in leakage. In order to keep you and your baby healthy while you exercise, you must listen to your body and reduce your activity if any of these symptoms occur while exercising. Overall, enjoy this time making a healthy baby!
Dr. Kari Brown Budde from www.RefinedRun.com is maintaining a fit pregnancy while carrying twins.