Exercising While Pregnant: Good For You, and Good For Baby Too
Sadly, a positive pregnancy test is not a green light to lie on the couch and eat jelly donuts for nine months. Now, I’d never recommend anyone gave up jelly donuts altogether, but being pregnant is no longer a reason to give up exercise.
Prenatal exercise has many benefits for mom. It helps with aches and pains, improves posture, may help you sleep better, and reduce stress. Moms who exercise tend to have easier labors than moms who don’t, and moms who exercise while pregnant usually get back into shape faster after the birth than moms who don’t.
Exercising while you are pregnant is an investment in your fitness now, and after your baby is born. And now doctors think that you are improving your baby’s fitness too.
A new study seems to suggest that exercising while pregnant makes babies’ hearts stronger. Moms who exercised when pregnant had babies with lower heart rates, and better heart rate variability, factors considered to be signs of a healthy heart. The doctors think that when moms exercise, it trains their baby’s heart to work more efficiently.
Even gentle exercise will be beneficial. What kind of exercise can you do? Most light-impact activities are appropriate, or can be adapted for pregnant women. Here’s some suggestions.
- Walking – even gentle walking will benefit you and baby. If spring hasn’t arrived where you are, you can join a mall-walking club.
- Yoga – a pre-natal yoga class is best, or follow a pregnancy yoga DVD at home.
- Aqua aerobics or water aerobics – many community pools offer aqua aerobics classes.
- Swimming – Being in the water feels absolutely wonderful. But no Shamu jokes, please.
- Aerobics – several pregnancy workout videos are available, with gentle exercises and lots of stretching to warm up and cool down.
Whatever you do, always start gradually, and listen to your body and stop if you feel dizzy, sore, or unwell. Remember your center of balance is changing and it’s easier to fall. It’s also easier to pull a muscle when pregnant, so please be careful.
And remember to drink plenty of water, and spend time resting and relaxing as well as doing physical activity.
Always consult your doctor or obstetrician before starting any exercise program. Exercising is safe for most pregnant women, but if you have certain medical conditions, then exercise may be harmful to you or your baby. Your doctor should be able to give you guidelines of what types of, and how much, exercise will be appropriate for you.