A certain level of physical activity during pregnancy is great for you and your baby. Sometimes it helps to get a little nudge from a fitness professional, like contributor Verena Schiml of New York’s Mom in Balance. Make sure you choose your routine appropriately for yourself and your own individual pregnancy, of course, and check with your doctor or midwife about what might work best for you.
# 1 Increased Fitness: Exercising regularly increases the maximum amount of energy that a woman can create and the amount of oxygen she can use per minute. To put it simply, exercising ensures that fitness is maintained over the next nine months, and may even improve. Wow!
# 2 Fewer Pregnancy Complication Complaints: Research shows that regular strength and cardio training can significantly reduce, or even prevent, many pregnancy complications. So no excuses! Keep those daily routines! Good to know: being active in the first trimester, particularly, can prevent problems with fatigue.
# 3 Healthy Weight Gain: Research has shown that women who exercise regularly until the end of their pregnancies gain approximately 8.5 pounds less than women who are not active during pregnancy. That’s 8.5 pounds less to lose to regain your pre-pregnancy weight!
# 4 Healthy Growth of the Placenta: Regular exercise during pregnancy improves placental development. When exercise is maintained until the end of pregnancy, the second semester placenta appears to grow almost three times as fast and has about 15 percent more surface! In addition, exercising regularly will also ensure optimal placental functioning at the end of the pregnancy. So exercise will actually give a baby an even more comfortable home inside the belly!
# 5 Strong Muscles and Flexibility: Strong muscles are important for pregnant women as their joints typically become weaker when relaxin causes connective tissue to soften in the cartilage, tendons, and ligaments, which leads to the relaxing of joints. Strong muscles in combination with flexibility are useful during labor and even speed-up recovery afterwards.
# 6 Better and Deeper Sleep: Because of working out, pregnant women will notice that falling asleep becomes easier, and they will enjoy a deeper sleep. It’s very simple really: the body needs to recover after activity. Bonus from the better and deeper sleep: more energy during the day!
# 7 Good Mood: You are only one workout away from a good mood! Endorphins are released during exercising, leaving you with a healthy and good mood afterwards. There are additional benefits of exercising outdoors. Namely, the oxygen level is higher in fresh air than in closed rooms. Therefore, the body gets much more oxygen with every breath. Secondly, the outdoors also helps the body adapt to each season, boosting the immune system. Finally, direct exposure to sunlight boosts Vitamin D levels, which is beneficial for bones and teeth, and another booster of the immune system.
# 8 Labor and Delivery May be Quicker and Easier: A landmark study found that among well-conditioned women who delivered naturally, those who had continued to exercise regularly throughout their pregnancy experienced active labor (by definition, that’s after you reach dilation of 4 centimeters) of 4 hours and 24 minutes, while those who quit early on were in labor for 6 hours and 2 minutes. That’s about 2 hours shorter! In addition, research has found that regular exercisers are 75 percent less likely to need a forceps delivery, 55% less likely to have an episiotomy and up to four times less likely to have a C-section. A great book which touches upon these stats is James F. Clapp’s Exercising Through Your Pregnancy.
# 9 Faster Recovery After Delivery: Pregnant women who manage to keep exercising and stick to a healthy diet will recover better from giving birth and (more importantly?!) they will fit back into their old clothes quicker!
# 10 A Healthier Baby: Research has shown that active movement during pregnancy can be beneficial for the development of the heart and nervous system of the baby. The higher cardio fitness level even seems to last into the childhood years.
Watch Mom in Balance’s Pregnancy Video Here:
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Rebecca Conroy grew up in NYC and has been a Brooklynite for 20 years and is now the mom of two young kids. Aside from writing, she works in photo and film production and has a rich history in the visual arts. Being a Teaching Artist in NYC’s public school system for years has allowed her to work closely with children and her community.