• Category: Blog
  • Published Dated: April 9, 2014
  • Writen by:
Pregnancy

It has been an interesting last few weeks as I’ve been holding down the fort at home, shuttling my kids around, teaching and maintaining work, keeping up my energy with this pregnancy, of course feeding everyone (that’s a big job in and of itself), and supporting my husband with work and Army duties.  I’ve have many thoughts and topics I’ve been wanting to blog about, but am just now taking advantage of this opportunity to post on a topic that I am very passionate about.  It is one that I am asked about a whole lot . . . fitness during pregnancy!

Yes, I’ve got a baby on board (number four!) and as a runner as well as an instructor who teaches fitness classes on most days of the week, I am almost always approached by someone at the completion of each workout who is concerned about the state of my baby.  I smile and explain that we’re all good and that I’m very much in tune with my body and am careful, always doing my best to keep my baby’s best interests in mind.

Here’s why I feel so great about staying very active during this pregnancy (and the last three):

  • •  Fitness during pregnancy keeps me happy and thus is good for my baby in a sense that I stress less and have lower cortisol and stress hormones circulating through my body and his as well.  Research has shown that pregnant women who exercise regularly have improved self-esteem, more energy, and a lesser incidence of depression with those wonderful feel-good endorphins that come with staying active.
  • •  Babies born to active moms may have more smarts.  A recent study out of the University of Montreal showed that newborns with active mothers possessed a greater mental maturity than those with inactive moms.  Further research also suggests improved neuromuscular scores, improved motor and oral language scores among children of mothers more active during pregnancy.
  • •  Fewer complications for both mom and baby are associated with active pregnancies.  That’s right.  Being sedentary is actually more dangerous for both than being active (with a doctors okay and personalized route).  With a healthy aerobic capacity and blood pressure, improved response to carbohydrates, and decreased blood glucose response versus non-active women, who wouldn’t be willing and wanting for great fitness during pregnancy?
  • •  Better sleep!  Staying active throughout pregnancy is associated with better quality sleep, which is another great benefit to moving more.  I don’t have many restless nights during my pregnancies, but I know that is unique to other stressors that come with stages and chapters in life as well.
  • •  Better posture.  I’ve not experienced back pain with any of my pregnancies, which I credit to starting each pregnancy with a strong back, along with continuing with strengthening exercises for my posture throughout pregnancies.  Although anecdotal, I am a strong believer in starting out each pregnancy with a strong core, while maintaining correct posture throughout the day to support a healthy spine, despite the pressures that pregnancy brings to the back.
  • •  Easier recovery following delivery and quicker returns to pre-pregnancy weight.  I’m putting my money on this on this go-around as well.

So then . . . if you are cleared by your doctor you can feel comfortable in continuing your past fitness routine, with an increased focus on maintaining a strong back and optimal posture, maintaining a fit state of aerobic capacity, and avoiding getting to a state of breathless or extremes in any sense.  Be consistent with your fitness routine, staying active most, if not all days of the week.

Exercise can safely be started in women who were not exercising before pregnancy, while programs must be carefully structured and supervised with unique recommendations for exercise type, intensity, duration, and frequency.   This is obviously not the time to reach peak fitness or to train for athletic competitions, and pregnant women should avoid lying flat on their backs for much time at all, which may reduce blood flow to the baby.  The old recommendation of not exceeding a heart rate of 140 beats for minute is old-hat.  Perceived rates of exertion are better indications of appropriate levels and intensities.  You should be able to talk and should avoid light-headedness and, again, extremes.

With emphasis I recommend that if you are active during your pregnancy you see you obstetrician or midwife regularly.  Also, hydrate well and nourish your body, and thus your baby, with healthy, real and unprocessed foods.  Enjoy movement that you can safely perform while still talking, not getting breathless.  Listen to your body and don’t fall for the old tales that would have you believe that being sedentary is better.  Lastly, of course, always keep your baby’s best interests in mind!

 I’d love to hear your fitness during pregnancy stories.

How has staying active during pregnancy benefited both you and your baby?  

All the best!

Jessica

 

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