We all know we’re supposed to exercise to stay healthy and most of us know of some benefits of exercising in pregnancy but so often we make excuses whether it’s lack of time, fatigue or nausea. What we often don’t understand is that exercise can help with all of these things!
So to help you get clear on your why and move past your excuses, I want to help you to understand exactly how much benefit exercise can have to your pregnancy, birth and your baby’s health.
First of all, let’s go through the effects that it has on your physical body. We know that exercise can reduce your risk of gestational diabetes and prenatal hypertension. It can reduce weight gain during pregnancy as well as reduce your risk of lower back pain and pelvic girdle pain. Both of which can be very debilitating! It can help reduce bloating, swelling and constipation and even alleviate nausea!
Not only does it help your physical body, it also helps to reduce your risk of pre or postnatal mental health issues. Exercise improves your mood and reduces your risk of depression and anxiety.
For your babies health, there is research coming out that suggests exercise during pregnancy can reduce your risk of stillbirth. Most experts agree that gentle exercise with your doctors approval can lower your risk of miscarriage. Exercise has been correlated with reduced risk of premature labour and increased foetal growth.
For birth, exercise has been seen to reduce your risk of complications and even reduce length of labour. It also improves foetal positioning. In particular, four point kneeling positions used in yoga and pilates encourage the feutus to move off the spine. A slouched posture on the other hand will encourage a posterior position, which can lead to a much more painful and longer labour. This is especially important when we’re working at a desk all day and then coming home and slumping on the couch! Yoga in pregnancy helps to open the hips and lengthen the muscles around the pelvis. It also teaches you tools that you can take into labour such as breath techniques for natural pain relief.
Strengthening your arms, upper back and postural muscles during pregnancy can reduce your risk of pain postpartum. You are more likely to tolerate the demands of breast feeding and nursing a 3-4kg baby. Doing pelvic floor and core exercises in pregnancy reduces your risk of incontinence and prolapse and also improves recovery postpartum. Pilates is a form of core strengthening that can provide huge benefits in pregnancy. It is gentle and easy to navigate in the early trimesters when you’re struggling with fatigue or morning sickness. Pilates in pregnancy has been shown to reduce the risk of pelvic girdle and lower back pain!
So if you want to stay healthy throughout your pregnancy, if you want to keep your baby healthy, if you want to improve your chances of having a healthy labour, a healthy baby and minimal complications, then get off the couch and find some gentle exercise that tailors to your needs!