6 Benefits of Exercise During Pregnancy
Many women wonder if exercise is safe during pregnancy. In most cases, the answer is yes. Not only does regular exercise have benefits for expectant moms, it can reduce a woman’s chance of developing gestational diabetes, which can impact her baby’s health.
In a normal pregnancy, exercise does not put women at an increased risk of miscarriage. In fact, research has shown that prenatal inactivity can put moms-to-be and their babies at risk. The general rule of thumb is: if you exercised before getting pregnant, it’s safe to continue exercising. However, moms-to-be should always consult with their doctor before starting any new exercise routine.
The major benefits of exercise during pregnancy include:
Relief from Discomfort
Regular exercise during pregnancy can help alleviate discomfort from the aches and pains expectant moms experience as their body changes and adjusts to their growing baby. Stretching and yoga eases back pain, walking improves circulation, and swimming can strengthen abdominal muscles. Exercise during your second trimester may provide the most relief for lower back and pelvic pain.
Reduced Chance of Gestational Diabetes
In women who develop gestational diabetes, regular exercise can make an important difference: Studies have found that women who exercised moderately three times a week reduce their risk of having a macrosomic (very large) newborn by 58 percent, which led to a 34 percent lower risk of a C-Section.
Increase in Energy
Growing a tiny human is exhausting, but regular exercise will strengthen your cardiovascular system and can help you get through daily tasks like grocery shopping or sitting through meetings at the office.
Alleviated Labor Pains
Studies have found that giving birth expends more energy and requires more stamina than running a marathon. It’s no surprise that the more your work out, the stronger you'll be when it’s time for labor and delivery. Preparing for childbirth with exercise may ease labor and even shorten the time it takes to deliver your baby.
Better Sleeping Patterns
As your pregnancy progresses, finding a comfortable sleeping position can be a real challenge. But exercise can help clear your head and tire you out enough to lull you into a more restful sleep with less tossing and turning.
Reduced Chance of Postpartum Depression
According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, postpartum depression affects 1 in 9 women. Developing or continuing a safe exercise routine during pregnancy may help you bounce back after delivery. Even low-intensity exercise, like taking your baby for a walk with your new stroller, is linked to a lower likelihood of depressive symptoms in new moms.
If you’re having a rough first trimester and just reading this makes you nauseous, start small with only 15 minutes of continuous exercise a few times a week during early pregnancy. If exercise is causing your morning sickness to worsen, it’s okay to wait until your second trimester to get back into your routine.