Fit mamas benefit during pregnancy and after

February 24, 2017 | by Diana Calero, M.D.
Categories: Healthy Driven Moms

You know how a good workout can make you feel better? This applies when you’re pregnant too. Many of those discomforts you feel during pregnancy can be alleviated by staying active. Regular exercise can help to:

  • Reduce back pain
  • Ease constipation
  • Boost your mood and energy levels
  • Help you sleep better
  • Promote strength and endurance
  • Potentially decrease your risk of gestational diabetes

Exercise may also help you cope better with labor and delivery. One study found that women who participated in an exercise program throughout pregnancy progressed through the first stage of labor more quickly than women who didn’t.

Exercise can also make it easier for you to get back in shape after your baby is born. This is because you maintain muscle tone, and you are less likely to put on excess weight when you exercise during pregnancy.

The benefits of exercise may extend to your growing baby as well. Research suggests that a baby’s heart rate typically rises in unison with his or her exercising mother’s. As a result, scientists believe, babies born to active mothers tend to have more robust cardiovascular systems from an early age than babies born to more sedentary mothers. One study of expectant mothers even suggests that if a women exercises during pregnancy, she may boost the brain development of her unborn child.

If you’re healthy and your pregnancy is normal, it should be perfectly safe to exercise during pregnancy, says the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Of course, ask your OB-GYN first about what type of exercise program will fit your needs.

ACOG provides some safe exercises during pregnancy:

  • Walking – Brisk walking gives a total body workout and is easy on the joints and muscles.
  • Swimming and water workoutsWater exercises use many of the body’s muscles and are a good way to stay active. The water supports your weight so you avoid injury and muscle strain.
  • Stationary bicycling – Cycling on a stationary bike is a better choice than a standard bicycle because your growing belly can affect your balance and make you more prone to falls.
  • Prenatal yoga – Yoga reduces stress, improves flexibility and encourages focused breathing. Try yoga and Pilates classes designed for pregnant women, which teach modified poses.

If you are an experienced runner, you may be able to keep it up during pregnancy. Make sure to discuss it with your OB-GYN first.

And remember, your body goes through many changes during pregnancy, so use caution and don’t overdo it. Drink plenty of water before, during and after your workout. Exercise on a flat, level surface in a temperature-controlled room. Also, avoid high-impact exercises.

Learn more about pregnancy and baby services at Edward-Elmhurst Health.

Learn more about our medically-based fitness centers.

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