Benefits of Exercise during Pregnancy

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The following is a student blog post by Jessica Walker

Benefits of Exercise during Pregnancy

Being pregnant takes its toll on you. Fatigue, nausea, exhaustion, and that’s just to name a few. It’s no wonder, though, with all that’s happening to your body. Once we discover we’re pregnant we start to worry about what we should eat or avoid eating, but we sometimes look over the importance of exercise during pregnancy. Exercising throughout your pregnancy can help alleviate some of those infamous effects of pregnancy we mentioned before and possibly help you during your labor as well.

You may be wondering how exercise could even be possible if you’re feeling nauseous all the time or having some serious back pain, but exercising can actually help prevent and get rid of some of those. Exercising helps improve the circulation of the blood which in turn helps to alleviate constipation, hemorrhoids, varicose veins, leg cramps, swelling ankles, and back pain. Exercising helps to prepare you for birth by helping give you the endurance and strength you need when you are in labor. It can also help you get into positions more easily and comfortably. Research suggests that your fitness level correlates with a shorter labor, fewer interventions, and less exhaustion during labor. It will not decrease the pain, but it can help you to cope and deal with the pain and discomfort.

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Some other good reasons to exercise during your pregnancy are:

  • Can help you sleep better
  • Boosts your energy
  • Helps create more positive thinking and keep you in a good mood.
  • Less likely to gain excess weight
  • Prepares you for birth
  • Lowers risk of gestational diabetes

 

When you are exercising the blood in your body shifts from your internal organs, which includes you uterus, to the rest of your body. Because of this you should be sure not to exercise too vigorously or it could harm you and/or your baby. You should also avoid exercising outside when it is hot or humid, as well as exercises that require you to lie on your back, especially after your first trimester. Make sure you are keeping well hydrated and getting enough calories to keep you and your baby healthy. Because you are more at risk of injury due to the hormones relaxing you ligaments you need to avoid exercises that require jumping, quick jarring motions, and quick changes in direction. If you did not exercise before you got pregnant then start slowly and work your way up to a full 30 minute workout. Because of these guidelines you may find it easiest to simply walk, swim, do low impact aerobics, or prenatal yoga. Avoid any physical contact activities and extreme sports while you are pregnant. You should check with your care provider before starting a workout routine, especially if you have a high risk pregnancy or any medical conditions.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists you should stop exercising if you experience:

  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Dizziness or feeling faint
  • Increased shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Headache
  • Muscle weakness
  • Calf pain or swelling
  • Uterine contractions
  • Decreased fetal movement
  • Fluid leaking from the vagina

If you do experience any of these do not resume, even if the symptom stops. First speak to your care provider so they can make any recommendations or suggestions as to what you may or may not want to do.

 

Exercise During Pregnancy: Safety, Benefits & Guidelines. (2013, July 19). Retrieved July 29, 2015.

Women’s Health Care Physicians. (2011, August 1). Retrieved July 29, 2015.

 

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