Disclaimer: consult your doctor before embarking on an exercise programme and consult with a local specialised exercise professional.
Research has shown that exercising during pregnancy not only benefits the mother but the child too. This is on the basis that there are no complications. However when raising and carrying children there are a lot of people just waiting to force on you their unsolicited advice. You can be damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
Some (uninformed) people may try to dissuade you from exercise to prevent you from ‘harming the baby’. However here are:
5 excellent reasons why expectant mothers should exercise
1. Stress reliever:
As you are more than aware, pregnancy has the ability to zap your energy levels quickly and the last thing you need is a bad night’s sleep. By incorporating exercise you can increase your chances of improving sleep as well as decreasing stress, anxiety and fatigue.
2. Weight Control:
The average amount weight gain during pregnancy is 12.5kg. This weight gain is natural and caused by the growth of your foetus, fluid retention, fat storage in addition to the enlarging of your breasts and uterus. To prevent gaining excessive amounts of weight during pregnancy exercise (appropriate to your fitness level) is recommended.
3. Prepare for birth:
Cardiovascular and muscular fitness levels can be maintained through exercise. This has the benefit of preparing your body for birth in two ways. Your increased endurance will help with labour and delivery, in addition your control over breathing can help to manage pain. Another bonus of exercise is it’s to reduce length of labour and birth complications!
4. Alleviate common pregnancy complaints
During pregnancy there are common complaints of leg cramps, high or low blood pressure, bloating, constipation, hemorrhoids, varicose veins, gestational diabetes and blood clots, exercise can help to prevent these.
Back pain is often associated with pregnancy due to the shift in weight distribution as your baby bump grows. Through strengthening the muscles in your back, buttocks and thighs you can prevent back pain by improving your posture and body awareness.
Exercise can also help with pelvic floor function and consequentially prevent you from suffering from urinary incontinence.
5. Post-baby health:
The benefits of exercise you complete during pregnancy, carry on even you have given birth. Through performing the appropriate transverse abdominus exercises during pregnancy you will also help reduce the risk of Diastasis Recti (separation of linea alba) developing. Exercise has been shown to improve maternal well-being and contribute to reducing post-partum depression.
If your doctor says its okay for you to exercise, then it’s okay for you to exercise. Ignore the ‘well meaning’ comments from colleagues and gym goers who ask ‘Should you be doing that?’. Instead enlist in the help of an ante-natal fitness professional for guidance on exercises you should be doing, think of it as an investment in yours and your baby’s health.