Pregnancy and Exercise
One of the most daunting things about pregnancy is how rapidly your body changes in order to accommodate the new life it is creating. The first signs of pregnancy are met with feelings of joy, wonder and fear. Then the questions start flooding in. What now? Where do we go from here? What do I need to do and when? What should I not do?
How can I ensure I am best prepared to bring this child into the world? This is one of the most important questions a woman can ask. Both physically and mentally, exercise can help prepare a woman for the demands placed on her by pregnancy and labour. No two women experience pregnancy and childbirth the same. Our bodies are designed to give birth naturally, however with medical advancement we have have lost the ability to listen to our bodies and allow nature to do what it does best. Exercise in pregnancy should be designed to prepare a woman’s body for labour. After all, an athlete would not run a marathon without the necessary training, so why would a woman go through pregnancy without preparing her body for labour?
Listed below are many of the benefits exercise can provide for mum and baby.
The Benefits of Exercise During Pregnancy
Reduce pregnancy symptoms, back ache, constipation, swelling, bloating.
Prevent wear and tear on joints by stimulating synovial fluid.
Help you sleep better.
Reduce stress levels.
Helps control weight gain.
Helps improve moods.
Helps with posture.
Helps prevents leg cramps.
Promotes muscle tone, strength and endurance.
Allow mum to feel in control.
Happy mummy, means happy baby.
Increase in Oxygen flow to baby.
Improved placental function.
Recent research has shown increased autonomic responses in foetus, i.e. lower heart rate and breathing.
Guidelines for Exercise in Pregnancy ACOG
A lot of women are already very active prior to pregnancy and, for these women, it is safe to continue as they are, with the exception of contact or impact sports, e.g. rugby, tennis, and martial arts. For women who are not active prior to pregnancy, but want to prepare their bodies for this journey, it is recommended that they wait until their 2nd trimester to start exercising.
Exercising in 1st Trimester
Currently it is only recommended for women who have been previously exercising consistently to continue with exercise during the 1st trimester.
Exercising in 2nd Trimester
For non exercisers it is recommended that they exercise for 30-60 minutes, 3 times a week, at a moderate intensity, building this up to 4/5 times a week. For the previously exercising women, it is recommended that they exercise up to 5 times a week.
Exercising in 3rd Trimester
Keep up frequency, but lower intensity accordingly.
Exercise should be comfortable at all times; you should be able to hold a conversation throughout the exercise.