Every pregnancy, like every person, is different.
From morning sickness to swollen ankles, for some women pregnancy can be an uncomfortable, and near debilitating experience. Fortunately, for the lucky ones, it’s a period during which you can continue to enjoy most of the things you did before you were pregnant, including exercise.
Pain Relief and Prevention for Backaches and Stiff Joints
Being stuck at a desk all day doesn’t get easier once you have a tiny human growing inside you. In fact, it gets even less comfortable and even more awkward, and can cause pregnant women to experience backaches and stiff joints that can become very painful when left untreated.
As it turns out, getting a little exercise can make you feel a whole lot better. Not only does exercise help lubricate achy joints but, according to KidsHealth.org, exercising while pregnant can help relieve backaches and improve your posture by strengthening muscles in the back, butt and thighs (and if you’re finding that your digestive process has slowed down at all, it can help that too).
In addition to helping relieve existing aches and pains, exercise during pregnancy can actually help prepare your body for the birth of your baby, says babycenter.ca.
We’re not saying that being fit guarantees an easier, or faster, labour but building a strong core and increasing your stamina can help you cope with the physical demands of labour and delivery.
Weight Gain, Hormones and Stress: Work Out to Stay Sane
The benefits of working out while pregnant are far from just medical. Let’s start with weight gain.
Weight gain during pregnancy is a normal part of pregnancy. Your baby needs an incubator that grows as fast as it does, and your beautiful belly is the absolute perfect fit. That being said, having little control over the rapid weight gain that comes with having a baby can be hard both mentally, and physically, for many women to accept.
Working out won’t prevent you from gaining baby weight over the course of the next 9 months (nor would you want it to), but it is a great way to keep the amount of weight you gain under control. Combined with a healthy diet (check out The 7 Principles of Eating well During Pregnancy by Baby Center), a little exercise can also help speed your return to pre-baby size jeans after birth. Just remember that it took nine months to make a baby, so be sure to give yourself at least that long to recover.
Next up: Hormones. Hormones during pregnancy are terrible for pretty much everyone involved, except baby, who might escape relatively unscathed.
As you rollercoaster up and down between good moods and bad moods, feeling elated and feeling depressed (with no idea why), you can start to feel as if you have no control over what’s happening to your body, and your sanity.
Whether it’s starting your day with a morning walk or cutting it in half with a visit to the gym, working out is one of the easiest ways to keep those hormones in check. After all, working out releases endorphins that make us feel better and put us in a good mood. It’s not quite fire with fire, but fighting hormones with hormones is pretty close.
Last but not least, working out is your best friend when it comes to the insane amount of stress that accumulates before giving birth. From planning pre-natal classes to deciding whether or not to bank your baby’s cord blood, there are a thousand things to do, and you’ve only got 9 months to do them.
Take 30 minutes to yourself every day to hit the pause button and focus on doing something good for you, and for baby. This is your time to bond with the growing baby inside you and think about all the joy that life has yet to throw your way. Savour it, and just breathe.
What Type of Exercise Can I do?
There is a lot you can do to stay fit while pregnant, but it’s important to make sure that you don’t overdo it. How much you do while pregnant is tied directly to how much you did before you were pregnant. For example: If you weren’t a runner before you were pregnant, you might want to wait under after delivery to train for that rigorous 10k race.
According to the Mayo Clinic, most pregnant women require at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise as many times a week as possible, but having the conversation with your doctor, OBGYN or midwife before starting up a new workout routine is strongly advised.
Here are some activities that are both mom and baby friendly. Now get moving!
- Light Jogging/Running
- Exercise Class (follow slow variations): Try Zumba or Pilates!
- Weight lifting: Use lighter weights as lifting heavy weights can put strain on yourself and the baby.