So many women consider the nine months of pregnancy to be a period of enforced inertia, a time when not only is the avoidance of exercise allowed, but actually should be encouraged. This really isn’t the case. Whilst it’s always essential to check with your doctor and keep them informed of any exercise you intend to do, exercising at this time can be so good for you. Here are 10 reasons why:
- It will help reduce aches and pains
Light weight lifting will strengthen your muscles to help them cope with the cumulative weight you will be carrying towards the birth. Keeping yourself nice and flexible may also help you manage to get down and tie your shoelaces towards the final weeks!
- It will give you a much needed energy boost
It may seem counter-intuitive that something requiring the use of energy will give you more of it, especially at a time when you are feeling exceptionally tired from the small matter of growing a brand new human. However, research has shown that, as with any exercise, it will boost your energy levels making you feel that much better able to cope.
- It will help you sleep better
As with any exercise, a good session will ensure any surplus energy you have is burned, giving you a better chance of a good night’s sleep – even when a certain little someone might be giving you a few little affectionate kicks.
- It will increase your stamina for the birth
The process of labour and giving birth is usually a long one, definitely a marathon not a sprint. Exercising over the course of your pregnancy will be like training for the big event. And it is a big one.
- It will make you feel good
Exercising helps release the feel-good hormone Serotonin, which is known to lift our mood. This is a great benefit at a time when all your hormones will be going a bit crazy, making you weepy at times.
- It will help you maintain a good self image
Whilst nine months of movies and a soft sofa may initially seem appealing, a lovely brisk walk outside with nature will make you feel infinitely better. You will find that looking after yourself will be a much more rewarding use of this unique time in your life.
- It will help you get your shape back after the birth
Maintaining your muscle tone will give you a great head start in your journey back to your pre-baby self. You will also be better prepared for the new life of lifting, carrying and picking random plastic objects off the floor.
- It will give you chance to bond with your unborn child
Whether you exercise alone or in a group, it will enable you to work with and respect the body that contains a future love of your life. Pregnancy is that one time when you and your child truly do something completely and utterly together.
- It will give you a chance to meet other like-minded mums
Pre-natal classes will not only give you the opportunity to work with an experienced professional, but will also put you in contact with plenty of like-minded mums-to-be. Often the mums you meet at this time will become friends for life – and they’ll be healthy like you!
- Research has shown that it could help brain development in your unborn child
A research study by the University of Montreal in Canada showed that babies of mothers who exercised had more active brains than those who didn’t. That’s got to be worth a go!
Things to remember:
- Always check with your doctor first
- Ensure you’ve eaten enough. Don’t worry about the baby not getting enough – the body will prioritise the nourishment of your unborn baby, you just need to ensure you keep up your own energy levels
- Avoid dangerous and contact sports such as martial arts, outdoor cycling and skiing
- Always warm up and cool down gently
- Keep yourself hydrated
- Don’t lie flat on your back, support yourself on a towel or cushion
- Don’t overdo it or let yourself overheat, your basal body temperature is already higher in pregnancy
- Get up from floor exercises slowly
- Find activities you enjoy and of which will easily form a regular habit
And finally, did you know:
- British marathon runner Paula Radcliffe was still competing in races up to 7 months pregnant, completing a 10K race in 45 minutes (vs her world record of 30 minutes).
- The Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton was reputed to have done yoga and dog walking during her pregnancies. We all know how good she looked exiting the hospital one day after her birth.
- Hilary Duff, Jessica Alba, Kim Kardashian all exercised during their pregnancies.