So you just found out you’re pregnant (yay!) and you’re submerging yourself into different books, videos, and articles about how to nurture your growing baby as best as you can. You’re learning that everything you do with your body, and put into your body affects your baby directly.
Mothers to be tend to focus a lot on the food they’re eating, because what they eat is also what their baby eats. And that is a huge factor in baby-to-be’s health. But some women forget about their exercise routine altogether, and exercise during pregnancy can have major health benefits for both baby and mom.
There are different reasons women may decide not to exercise. Perhaps they’re too tired to even consider trying to work out. And according to a new study, despite the proven benefits of exercising while pregnant, some women are still fearful that exercise is going to hurt their unborn baby. According to this study, 90 women who were between 16 and 30 weeks pregnant were asked if they still exercised, as they were regular exercisers before they became pregnant. To the researcher’s surprise, most of these women stopped exercising altogether. If other moms were to tell these women not to exercise because they may harm the baby, these moms would listen and believe the myth.
So, what are the benefits of exercising while pregnant, and is it possible to harm your baby while exercising? Fortunately, the incentive to exercise is huge and the benefits are endless. And researchers conclude that for a healthy, non high-risk, pregnancy exercise is extremely beneficial. If you are having a high-risk pregnancy, you must speak with your obstetrician about whether or not you’re advised to exercise.
Post workout endorphins keep your mood and energy levels elevated. If you’re like most women, sometimes no matter how happy we are that we’re expecting, our mood can fluctuate due to hormones and an overall feeling of sluggishness. A workout can assist with a mood boost and who doesn’t need some of that? Exercise eases back pain too, one of the most famous culprits of pregnancy symptoms.
It’s easy to gain weight during pregnancy, because it’s healthy to gain weight during pregnancy. But excessive weight gain can lead to pregnancy problems for both mom and baby. Babies of obese or overweight women are at an increased risk of being born prematurely, being born with birth defects, and are more prone to develop diabetes and heart disease. Keeping tabs on your calorie intake and exercising while pregnant is beneficial for both mom and baby.
1. Eat Healthy.
Eating healthy foods is a very important part of staying fit and healthy during pregnancy. Your food intake will either make you feel better or worse. Consuming healthy foods is also critical to your baby’s overall development and growth. Babies need a variety of vitamins and nutrients for healthy development. For instance, if the mother doesn’t consume enough folic acid in her diet and prenatal vitamins, the baby is at a higher risk for neural tube defects that affect the spine, spinal cord, and brain. Neural tube defects can even lead to death. That’s just one example of a vital nutrient mothers to be need to consume pregnancy to ensure their baby is healthy.
On those days when it’s hard to get out of bed, consuming healthy meals can help with energy and mood elevation. Eating junk food can actually make you more sluggish and cranky. Healthy meals are key for healthy fetus development. Don’t forget that everything you ingest is going straight to your developing baby. A healthy diet for mom is linked to healthy brain development for baby, a healthy birth weight, and a reduced chance of birth defects.
2. Take Brisk Walks.
The National Health Service recommends that pregnant women get 150 minutes per week in walking. That translates to 30 minutes of walking each day. Walking helps regulate your weight, and therefore baby’s weight, too. Walking 30 minutes each day reduces your risk of developing gestational diabetes during pregnancy because it keeps you fit and helps you avoid excessive weight gain.
Taking 30 minute brisk walks daily also reduces mom’s cholesterol and lowers blood pressure, helping decrease chances of a dangerous condition called pre-eclampsia during pregnancy. Pre-eclampsia is one of the most common pregnancy complications when blood pressure suddenly climbs to unhealthy levels, and the woman experiences severe swelling. It can cause blood clotting problems, and impair kidney and liver function. In severe forms, and if left untreated, it can cause maternal and infant death.
Before you go out for your walk, make sure you are prepared. Have your cell phone charged in case of emergency. Keep a water bottle with you so you can stay hydrated while you walk. Invest in some comfortable sneakers to keep your feet happy while you walk.
3. Stay Hydrated.
Hydrating ourselves with water is extremely important, even when not pregnant. But hydration is especially important when we are growing a baby inside of us. Dehydration is especially concerning for pregnant women because water helps to form the placenta, which is what your baby relies on to receive nutrients. The amniotic sac is also formed by water later in pregnancy. Water can also increase low amniotic fluid levels.
4. Make Yourself Move Daily.
When you’re pregnant and exhausted, it’s easy to say “screw it” and lay down on the couch. But making yourself move as much as you can has its benefits. Physical activity and moving your body makes your heart, lungs, and blood vessels strong. Movement can help reduce backache, constipation, and swelling! So basically, these dreaded pregnancy symptoms that we all dislike can be reduced just by moving our bodies.
5. Treat Exercise Time As You Would An OB Appointment
We schedule our prenatal appointment visits with our OBGYN office because we want to make sure we have a designated time for them. This is because we feel these appointments are important; and they are. But guess what? Exercise is just as important to yours and your baby’s health during pregnancy, So why not treat your time to exercise as you would a doctor’s visit?
Make time to exercise, and focus on the importance of it. When is the best time to exercise? Most women find that after a healthy breakfast, they are more likely to enjoy a 30 minute walk or workout. If you suffer from morning sickness, perhaps an afternoon walk would benefits you more. Towards the evening, we tend to have less energy and motivation for a workout.
What kinds of exercises are safe? The safest and most productive exercises while pregnant are swimming, low impact aerobics and brisk walking. What exercises should you avoid? Any exercises in the supine position (lying on your back) should be avoided in pregnancy after the first trimester. This is because when you’re lying on your back, the weight of your uterus can compress a major blood vessel called the vena cava. This disrupts blood flow to your baby. You should also avoid standing for long periods of time to reduce your risk of fainting.
In conclusion we’d like to remind you that any physical activity and exercise routine should be cleared with your doctor before starting. If you have a high-risk pregnancy, it’s especially important to go over all your questions with your doctor and follow their advice. The studies are there to prove it- exercise is vital and beneficial for a mom to be and her unborn child. And we wish you a happy and healthy pregnancy!