How Prenatal Exercise Can Benefit You and Your Baby

Can you imagine that there was a time when women were expected to rest and not get exercise during pregnancy? What were we thinking? It has become clear over the past 50-60 years that women need exercise and that exercise helps create a healthy mother and a healthy baby.

Of course, we all know that exercise benefits everyone. There are so many ways that exercise helps both the mind and the body that once you know about them it can seem crazy not to exercise. However, despite the fact that pregnant women were once told to avoid exercise, prenatal exercise has wonderful benefits for them as well.

The pregnant woman who gets a good amount of prenatal exercise will have stronger muscles for labor and delivery and to support loose joints. This will also help improve posture and reduce back pain. Exercise will also help a pregnant woman experience increased circulation, which is vital in carrying oxygen and nutrients to the developing baby, and increased flexibility. Exercise will also relieve muscle tension and help the mother-to-be feel more relaxed.

The above are all physical benefits of prenatal exercise, but exercise also carries mental benefits. You see, when we exercise, our brains produce a chemical called serotonin. This is a wonderful chemical that makes us feel good. During pregnancy the mental and emotional boost we get from exercise can help battle the mood swings brought about by hormones and promote a feeling of happiness and wellbeing.

Of course, it is important to ensure that you exercise safely while pregnant. You should never just jump into a new exercise routine while pregnant. If you have not been exercising prior to pregnancy, then take it slow and start off with walking or swimming a few minutes each day. You can increase as you feel ready, eventually reaching 30-45 minutes 3-4 days per week. If you were physically active prior to pregnancy, then you can generally keep doing what you were doing before as long as there are no complications in your pregnancy. For example, if you are a runner you can still run during pregnancy.

It is important to follow some general guidelines when doing prenatal exercises. Avoid activities that require good balance, especially after the fourth month. Avoid high-impact activities and avoid activities that involve deep muscle stretching. Also be sure to keep yourself well hydrated and do not raise your heart rate such that you cannot talk normally while exercising. You should sweat, but only moderately. Also, be sure that your body temperature doesn’t rise too much. You don’t want to overheat.

Before starting any prenatal exercise program it is important to discuss it with your doctor or midwife. You want to be sure they know what you are doing and that they give you the thumbs-up. This way you will know that you are completely safe in doing what you are doing, instead of second-guessing yourself. Your healthcare provider will also let you know the signs to watch out for if a problem develops during your exercise.

Prenatal exercise will allow you to have a healthier pregnancy, an easier labor and delivery, and you will bounce back faster after having your baby. You will look and feel great during and after your pregnancy and just might be more fit after baby arrives than you were before.

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