Pregnancy is a demanding time in life, both physically and mentally. It is not uncommon to have a hard time being motivated to exercise, and may even make the expectant mother wonder if it would really be beneficial or not.
Research confirms that exercise does in fact provide many positive influences on pregnancy for most women. There are many different physiological and psychological reasons this is true. The best way I can sum it up is…a well maintained machine (such as the body), will work better and more efficiently at the jobs it completes than one that is not maintained and in condition.
This is a very simplified reason to exercise…so let’s go into just a few of the specifics of why this is.
- Reducing the Symptoms of Pregnancy. Pregnancy is a physically uncomfortable time for many women and for good reason. A woman’s body changes so much during the 9 month gestational time. Pregnancy has been shown to reduce symptoms such as swollen body parts, leg cramps, varicose veins, constipation, fatigue, and lower back pain.
This effect is due to the improvement of circulation (which can help organs, such as the intestines, do their jobs more effectively). Also, increased muscle strength and endurance is important in giving a body what it needs to have correct posture and biomechanics that reduces the experience of aches and pains during pregnancy. Also, exercise, when engaged in at the correct amount can increase energy levels during pregnancy, helping fight the fatigue that often robs expectant moms of their enthusiasm during this exciting time.
- Helping the Mental State during Transition. Just like any other major transition or “state of change” in a person’s life, expecting a child can come with many mental and emotional stressors on a mother. Excitement, anxiety, blissfulness, feeling overwhelmed are just a few of the many emotions that accompany the prenatal hormones and anticipation of a new child. Exercising helps many women relieve unwanted stress and anxiety through the increase in endorphins and the ability to contribute to a healthy outcome in their pregnancy. Research has shown that exercise attributes to a positive mind-set as well as increased self-esteem. Being active can also help combat insomnia that plagues many moms-to-be, which is very useful in preventing feelings of depression and anxiety as well.
- Preventing Unwanted Effects of Pregnancy. The stress that carrying a baby has on a woman’s body can manifest in a number of complications that sometimes last even into post-partum. While physical changes are expected for everyone, some of the more harmful ones can be avoided by a healthy exercise routine. Some of these complications include urinary incontinence, pregnancy-induced hypertension, varicose veins, diastasis recti, hemorrhoids, and gestational diabetes. Staying active coupled with a healthy diet can be very important in reducing the possibility of complications and injury.
- Preparing for the “Work” of Labor. Anyone who has had a child can tell you that labor lives up to its name. There is nothing easy about the process of birthing a baby. The work of labor has been recorded as being more taxing on the human body than running a marathon! While endurance athletic events and labor are very different in many aspects, they are also very similar in others. Not only will a well-conditioned participant be able to complete the “task” better and with less strain on the body, but they will be more mentally prepared for the expected discomfort that comes during labor. It is helpful, if approved by your doctor, to participate in low-impact aerobic exercise 3-4 times a week as well as light strength-training, to help your body be in good shape for the process of birth and delivery.
These are only some of the many advantages that exercising throughout your pregnancy can have for you. However, it should be noted that no pregnant woman should engage in exercise programs without their doctor’s consent. Also, some pregnant women are not able to exercise due to the risks from their condition or potential-condition. Their doctors will be able to advise them on what they can and can’t do.
If you are someone who is expecting and now feeling encouraged to exercise to stay healthy during your pregnancy but are unsure of how to do that, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to tell you about the opportunities and services I provide for pre-natal clients!