There is still a great deal of misinformation out there in regards to exercising while pregnant. I'm here to clear that up for you!! Here you go, YOU *SHOULD BE EXERCISING WHILE PREGNANT, before, during and after pregnancy. This statement isn't based on my opinion or anyone else's opinion, this is based on years of research. Guidelines were developed in 1985 by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (ACOG) and have been reviewed and revised regularly since. **Although exercising is encouraged and beneficial to most pregnant women there are some contraindications where exercise may be harmful. Always speak to your doctor prior to beginning an exercise program while pregnant and make sure you are working with someone who is qualified and understands pregnancy and exercise. It is safe. It is encouraged. However there should be and will be modifications.
There is a whole slew of information I could write about in here, I'm so passionate about getting pregnant women active and moving safely!! For the purpose of this post I will simply outline the major benefits of exercising while pregnant.
Shorter, less complicated labour and delivery. Studies have shown women who continued regular weight-bearing exercise throughout the duration of their pregnancy had shorter labour times by nearly one-third compared to a control group (women who did not exercise). It was also noted women who stopped exercising mid-pregnancy had similar labour outcomes to the non-exercising group.
Better ability to handle the physical stress of labour.
Fewer symptoms such as nausea, fatigue, leg cramps and reduced pelvic and back pain. Exercise can also help prevent constipation, varicose veins and general body discomfort
Elevated mood. Not really surprising but one study found exercising can offset feelings of anxiety and depression that can occur during pregnancy.
Lower rate of cesarean section. In a study of 845 women the high-frequency exercise group had a 6.7% rate of C-section. The sedentary group had a C-section rate of 28.1%
Improved ability to handle the musculoskeletal changes to the body. Having stronger muscles helps maintain better posture and balance throughout the pregnancy.
Better ability to tolerate the stresses of pregnancy. Cardiorespiratory training during pregnancy enabled the women to better tolerate the cardiovascular demands during physical stress.
Lower bone mineral density loss during lactation/breastfeeding. During lactation the body draws calcium from maternal stores to breast milk resulting in a reduction of bone mineral density during lactation (most women regain the loss once they stop breastfeeding). Exercising during breastfeeding significantly lowers the bone mineral density loss.
Same training effect on the fetus. The results of a study in 2010 led the researchers to suggest that continued exercise during pregnancy may have the same training effect on the fetus, lower heart rate and increased heart rate variability (a higher HRV is a sign of a well-functioning autonomic system)
Babies born to mothers who exercised were on average 14 ounces lighter than babies born to non-exercising mothers (exercising showed no increase in low birth weight babies; less than 5 pounds 8 ounces). Larger weight babies have an increased risk of complications at birth.
There are so many benefits exercising while pregnant has on both the mother and the baby. When exercise is done safely and appropriately research as found that "there are no adverse short-term or long-term fetal or maternal problems associated with regular exercise in an uncomplicated pregnancy." It doesn't matter where you are on your fitness journey, whether you exercised before pregnancy or not you can start your pregnancy fitness journey. Please consult your doctor and find a qualified trainer to guide you.
Contact me if you are looking to start your pregnancy fitness journey!! I can help both you and your baby have a better pregnancy, labour and delivery and postpartum experience. If its not me, then find someone!
*all information found from Prenatal and Postpartum Exercise Design by Catherine Cram and Gwen Hyatt