When you're pregnant, mostly everyone will tell you to slow down and take it easy. While it does hold some truth, let's not forget that exercise still remains an integral part of maintaining good health and that doesn't have to stop during pregnancy. There are plenty of exercises that can be done while pregnant, as long as you perform them with caution and don't overdo it. But don’t forget, it’s important to consult your doctor before diving into any exercise routine. What’s safe for one mom may not be for another, especially if your pregnancy is complicated. Your physical fitness prior to pregnancy is also a factor, so don’t shy away from modifications if you need them.
Here are some reasons why you shouldn't skip the gym, or the mat, during this precious stage of motherhood.
LESS CHANCES FOR PREGNANCY COMPLICATIONS
Pregnancy can make a woman extremely vulnerable to complications, with gestational diabetes being one of the most common conditions. However, a 2017 study conducted by The International Weight Management in Pregnancy (i-WIP) Collaborative Group found that women who participated in fitness programs had a lower chance of developing diabetes, compared to those who did not engage in any form of exercise. Moreover, staying active also makes you less likely to have am unplanned cesarean section, or bear macrosomic babies (weighing more than nine pounds at birth).
ENHANCES YOUR MOOD
Pregnancy can often feel like a rollercoaster of hormones and emotions. One day, you’re happy beyond compare and the next your hormones levels shoot through the roof. But don’t worry, this is completely normal. Lately, celebrities like Brooke Shields and Gwyneth Paltrow have spoken up about the realities of postpartum disorders, helping to remove the stigma that surrounds it. However, there’s the increasing prevalence of symptoms during pregnancy as well. While it’s not a be-all and end-all cure, exercise does provide a healthy dose of endorphins that are proven to boost your mood. This can then decrease stress levels and improve the quality of your sleep, which leads to a more rested happier you.
LOWERS BLOOD PRESSURE
Blood pressure tends to fluctuate during pregnancy, but exercise can help regulate it. Even walking regularly can make a huge difference — just like Olympic cyclist Laura Kenny. The athlete maintained her active lifestyle through simple exercises like walking her dogs. As Britain’s most successful female Olympian of all-time, Kenny won four medals in London and Rio. Following the Olympics, Kenny took time out for her first child. Though it took her some getting used to a life without training, she told the Belfast Telegraph that structured workout plans and light biking also saw her through pregnancy.
GIVES YOU ENERGY
Because you’re carrying the weight of a tiny human being inside you, fatigue is inevitable. Exercise can give you that extra push you need to power through your day and fight off fatigue. Take your cue from BBC News reporter Sarah Porter, who joined a Mom in Balance prenatal boot camp. According to Porter, their group enjoyed a variety of workouts that might at first glance look high-impact and not appropriate for pregnant women, but are actually doable with the right guidance and support from trainers. The program is debunking the common myth that pregnancy is nothing but a vulnerable period that requires the utmost rest and no physical strain. While it's true that pregnant women shouldn't push themselves to the point of exhaustion, programs like Mom in Balance only allow participants to go up to the point of being able to walk. Jogging and resistance bands happen to be a couple of favourites, and they're sure to deliver a post-exercise endorphin high and jolt of energy from which all moms and their babies can benefit.
ALLOWS YOU TO MEE LIKE-MINDED WOMEN
Motherhood is one of the most special experiences you can have, and it becomes even better when you have other people to share it with. When you work out with a group, you accomplish several things like accountability and healthy competition, which certainly make it a bonding experience. But perhaps the most invaluable benefit of all is the sense of camaraderie and joy from being around a solid support group, especially during a vulnerable period like pregnancy. “Participants leave happy to have ‘got their workout in,’ to have maintained their record of attendance and relationships, and to have survived another day in a healthy capacity within their fitness community,” said personal trainer Rob McGillivray in an interview with NBC News. “They look forward to the next encounter — Whether that encounter is craved due to fitness-related goals or the personal relationships cultivated, it is a win-win scenario for the participant's physical and mental state of health.”
Exclusively written for MomInBalance.com