Pregnancy is a time for rest and relaxation, right? We’re constantly telling pregnant women to take a load off and kick up their feet.
While it’s true that you should respect and care for your body, and sometimes that means extra rest and the occasional indulgence, maintaining an exercise regimen during pregnancy is also very important.
If you aren’t feeling well, especially during the first trimester, or are struggling with long-term morning sickness (like hyperemesis gravidarum), the thought of exercise might be laughable. But if you’re enjoying a healthy pregnancy, there’s no reason not to exercise, take that yoga class, or continue enjoying your active lifestyle.
Listening to your body and your own comfort level is usually a great guide. You can understand better than anyone your body’s own capabilities and you should be trusted to make your own choices about what feels safe to you. If you are unsure or have questions about exactly what you can do, talk to your care provider about your concerns.
Here are a few of the many benefits of exercise during pregnancy:
Maintain a healthy weight- Pregnant women don’t need to eat double the calories to support their growing baby (although sometimes, we might feel like it!). Keeping up with exercise can be a great way to combat excess weight gain and not worry about every calorie you put into your body at the same time.
Maintain a healthy blood pressure– Your body is working hard during pregnancy and sometimes blood pressure levels will vary as a result, especially if high blood pressure runs in your family. A good way to keep your blood pressure in a healthy range is through daily exercise, which is known to have positive effects on BP both during pregnancy and throughout your lifetime.
Lower the risk of gestational diabetes– Exercise during pregnancy has been known to lower the risk of developing gestational diabetes. This pregnancy condition can sometimes bring added risks like high blood pressure (preeclampsia) and preterm birth. It can also mean giving birth to a larger babies, which sometimes can carry added risks during birth, like shoulder dystocia.
Sleep better – Exercise is always a helpful tool towards getting a good night’s sleep. But during pregnancy, when your hormones and blood sugar levels are shifting, it can be hard to get comfortable at night the bigger your baby grows. Sleeplessness is a common complaint. Especially if you are spending a lot of time sitting or resting during the day, sleep might be even harder to come by. So exercise becomes even more crucial in ensuring a good night’s rest, which your body needs!
It can strengthen your immune system- Exercise is a great way to keep your immune system strong, not only during pregnancy, but otherwise, too. Exercise promotes antibodies and helps flush bacteria out of the body. So if you want to stay healthy during pregnancy, keep moving.
Helps reduce aches and discomforts– Bloating, swelling, back and leg pain are common complaints during pregnancy. Staying active can help reduce some of those irritations by keeping the body limber. While it seems counterintuitive to put more stress on your body through exercise, it actually helps to relieve many aches and pains. Many of those discomforts actually come not from movement, but from being sedentary.
It may help prepare your body for birth- Giving birth has been compared to running a marathon. And why shouldn’t it be? It can last for hours and your body is working hard. So it only makes sense that staying strong, fit, and at a healthy weight would help you have an easier birth and empowered birth when you’re feeling strong and powerful. Of course, there is no way to guarantee a quick and easy delivery. But some studies have shown links between exercise during pregnancy and shorter births with fewer complications. In short, exercise definitely does a body good, but also, a birth!
If you are interested in learning more about exercise during pregnancy and my pregnancy program, please send me a message in the contact form – I’d love to hear from you!