the benefits of exercising during pregnancy
I can imagine that the second a woman finds out she is pregnant, her mind starts racing with a million thoughts and questions. There is so much to experience and so much of the “unknown”, so I’m sure an extremely exciting time also becomes an anxious time. Every mother wants the best for her baby and will do whatever it takes to make sure she develops a healthy child. What most women probably don’t realize is how important an exercise routine is for pregnancy and fetal development.
I am currently finishing up my exam for the AFPA Pre- and Post-Natal Exercise Specialist certification, and I have been learning all there is to know about being fit throughout your pregnancy. There are so many misconceptions out there about exercising while pregnant, and I have heard from friends and family that many doctors don’t even know the proper guidelines and precautions for pre- and post-natal exercise. But enough about those details, let’s talk about what most expectant mothers want to know: why should I exercise throughout my pregnancy?
- Exercise causes the placenta to grow and develop at a more rapid pace. Having a larger, more efficient placenta is extremely beneficial for the fetus because more nutrients, blood, and oxygen can be transferred from the mother to the baby. This is essential for healthy development.
- Exercise helps alleviate common symptoms of pregnancy–lower back pain, nausea, fatigue, etc.
- Pregnant women who exercise can dissipate body heat at a faster rate, meaning there are less hot flashes. Being able to efficiently control body temperature is vital as the pregnant woman can cope with heat stress and avoid the risk of a high body temperature.
- Expectant mothers who regularly exercise tend to gain less maternal body fat. This doesn’t mean the overall weight gain of the mother is lower, but means that the composition of the weight gain (baby weight, placenta weight, fluid retention, body fat, etc.) contains less overall fat. Translation? Less flab to lose after the delivery!
- While exercising moms-to-be tend to have less body fat, so do their babies. Babies born to mothers who exercise throughout their pregnancy have less body fat but do not have low body weight. This is very important because making the healthy choice to exercise literally sets up your child for a healthier life from birth.
These are just some of the benefits to exercising while pregnant. If you are currently pregnant and interested in starting up a fitness routine, make sure to talk to your doctor and figure out the right program for you. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me. Stay tuned for more posts discussing the benefits of exercise for labor and delivery, as well as general information about staying fit while pregnant!
photo credit: Canwest News | Wikimedia Commons