I’m a huge fan of physical activity overall, and I didn’t want to stop being active during pregnancy. Fortunately, we know now that exercise during pregnancy is safe and carries many benefits for mother and baby. Research suggests that exercise during pregnancy can:
- reduce the risk of developing gestational diabetes mellitus by 50%
- reduce the risk of pre-eclampsia
- ensure weight gain is healthy and not excessive
- improve maternal well-being
- reduce physical complaints such as back pain and insomnia
- reduce the risk of premature birth
- reduce the risk of operational delivery
- shorten labours, including the pushing stage
- decrease the need for pain relief during labour
- decrease risk of maternal cardiovascular disease in the long term
- decrease post-partum Body Mass Index.
It seems that regular aerobic exercise, the kind that gets you breathing faster, helps to build a healthier and more efficient placenta.
Babies born to mothers who exercised during pregnancy are also thought to settle more easily and be more intelligent at 5 years.
Personally, I couldn’t have got through my pregnancy without exercise. I made exercise a priority because (1) I wanted to maintain my fitness so I could get back into running post-partum; (2) I wanted to gain weight in a healthy weight and not “balloon out”; (3) I wanted a healthier baby. Exercise improved my mood and self-esteem, often increased my energy levels, allowed me to connect with nature, improved back pain, helped my sleep, helped me keep weight gain slow and steady as is recommended, and generally made me feel and look fabulous during pregnancy. I think it’s vital that you have a set of personal reasons as to why you want to continue on with physical activity during pregnancy, or perhaps start doing some if you are currently inactive. Do consult with your health provider as soon as you know you are pregnant, and read on about safety of exercise during pregnancy.