For many years, society viewed being pregnant more as an ailment rather than a normal condition of the human body. Rest was prescribed and keeping feet up was a priority. While resting has its place, exercise and fitness are making a comeback in the recommendations for a healthy pregnancy. Staying in shape during pregnancy is great not only for Mom but also for the baby.
Benefits of staying in shape during pregnancy
There are a lot of potential benefits to exercising while pregnant. Here are some of them:
- Grow a healthy baby. Babies born to women who exercise during pregnancy tend to be a healthy weight, and they tend to withstand labor and delivery well.
- Lowered risk of gestational diabetes. Fewer women who exercise develop gestational diabetes while pregnant.
- Improved mood. Exercising releases endorphins, leading to a happier and positive mood in the mom.
- Easier labor (possibly). While not guaranteed, women who exercise during pregnancy tend to have easier labors and require fewer medical interventions.
- Offset pregnancy symptoms. Fatigue, constipation and backaches are some annoying symptoms that ail pregnant women. Exercise improves sleep quality and promotes regular bowel functions. Plus, a strong back can help alleviate the aches.
How to get started
The first thing you should do is consult your healthcare provider. Every pregnancy is different, and therefore what is considered safe to do while pregnant will vary considerably from woman to woman.
Your healthcare provider can give you the best recommendation based on your own personal goals and pregnancy. If you're given the all clear, you can go ahead and get started following their recommendations.
If you were not particularly active before becoming pregnant, it's important to start slow and not push yourself too hard. Incorporating a 30-minute walk several times a week into your schedule and adding light strengthening activities can be a good start. If you were very active before becoming pregnant, you can often continue with your normal routine, just at a lower intensity.
Pregnant women have a higher blood volume and are more susceptible to heat, so there are some important safety considerations to keep in mind. First, your heart rate should be kept in check. Many healthcare providers recommend keeping your heart rate below 140 BPM. If you were active before pregnancy, you might be able to go over this recommendation with your doctor's approval.
If you feel lightheaded, hot, dizzy or nauseous, you should stop what you're doing and rest. A good way to check your intensity is to see if you can hold a conversation without gasping for breath. If you can, then your body is getting a good amount of oxygen.
The most important thing to remember is that the goal of pregnancy is to have a healthy mom and a healthy baby. Now isn't the time to go crazy with exercise or go on a restrictive diet. You are growing another person. Taking care of yourself and the baby is the number-one priority!