Pregnancy Health: Can Exercise Benefit Mother and Baby?

pregnant mom doing yoga

Women have been having babies since time began, conditions have improved and there is far more medical care for expectant women ensuring that pregnancy is no longer a life threatening condition so there is no need for women to be treated like it is. Many think women should become bed ridden from the time they discover they are expecting to the time of delivery but in fact the opposite should take place and medical professionals have come out in support of expectant mothers participating in exercise.

When pregnant, women are bombarded with all things baby related whether it is receiving tips and advice, a barrage of questions and the all important celebrations such as baby showers with the help of Shower My Baby. The months leading up to the birth should also accommodate a little time for the mothers themselves and exercise provides one of the best opportunities for some much needed ‘me’ time whilst being healthy and active benefiting both mother and baby.

There are concerns around exercising whilst expecting which deters many women from keeping up their regular exercising routine, many of the concerns are simply a myth….

You can’t do any abdominal exercises
This is false. Abdominal exercises will not harm the baby and will in fact prepare the body for labour and delivery; the body will also recover quicker from the birth.

You can’t run when pregnant
Running is a popular exercise that many participate in before becoming pregnant and something that can be continued right up until the birth of the baby. Make sure you listen to your body however and take it easy, if something doesn’t feel right then cease the exercise.

Exercise will prevent the baby from gaining the nutrients it needs
The baby will always take the nutrients that it needs and stores will be used to keep you fit throughout the pregnancy. Eating small meals of nutrient rich foods regularly will ensure you and the baby stay healthy.

You can only do limited exercises
It is wise not to participate in contact sports such as boxing and football but most gym equipment and exercise classes are fine. Use your common sense and discuss with fitness instructors if you are unsure.

The Baby will become distressed
The baby will only become distressed if you do. Gentle exercise actually has a calming effect and eliminates stress, which is beneficial to both mother and child.

pregnant mom with dumbbells
There are some very real benefits to mothers maintaining a level of fitness throughout their pregnancy all of which will have a positive impact on the child provided that guidelines for expectant mothers are adhered to.

  • Active women experience less complications during birth
  • Stomach muscles and the pelvic floor are strengthened which allows the body to cope better with labour and delivery
  • The body will change dramatically during pregnancy and those that exercise will cope with the changes far better
  • Energy levels will be boosted, a requirement to cope with the pregnancy and after the birth
  • Women sleep better after any form of activity
  • Discomfort is reduced such as aches and pains stemming from pregnancy
  • Stress levels are reduced
  • The body will go back to normal faster after birth

Editor’s note: the above should not be construed as medical advice.

Earnest Parenting: help for parents considering exercise during pregnancy.

Images courtesy of Health.howstuffworks.com and www.ultrafigures.co.uk via Creative Commons license, some rights reserved.

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