Contemporary wisdom tells you that pregnancy is a delicate period. The family elders expect a pregnant woman to put up her feet and relax. And you probably would want to do that! Your back is hurting, you feel more tired than usual – for once you definitely feel like listening to your mother!
But unless you’re experiencing complications, exercising and retaining a good level of physical fitness during pregnancy is a great idea. Let me count you the reasons why:
1. Relieve your aching back
Exercise in early pregnancy can strengthen abdominal, back, and pelvic muscles. When stronger, they are able to carry the extra 10-20 kilos of the last trimester much more easily (Sabino & Grauer, 2008).
2. Feel happier
Pregnancy can be a very stressful time – depression and mood swings are common during this time. Exercise improves mood during pregnancy which in turn decreases your chances of post-partum depression (Keen, et al., 2017)
3. Get the night’s rest you deserve and need
Sleep disorders are common due to the physical discomfort of carrying a foetus, with most women needing to pee frequently at night. Pregnant women are known to have a lower quality of sleep: that is, they lie awake in bed, sometimes for hours at a time. If you have a sedentary lifestyle, getting some exercise would be helpful getting that 8 hours of beauty sleep you need.
4. No more tummy ache!
You might experience some discomfort in your stomach while pregnant. Pregnancy hormones are known to increase gas, and there is also increased pressure on the ligaments that support your uterus. Exercise and stretching are both helpful to alleviate these problems!
5. Decrease your chances of contracting diabetes
Physical activity during pregnancy helps to decrease the chance you would have of contracting diabetes and increasing your blood pressure during pregnancy. Moreover, when combines with a controlled diet, exercise does wonders to reduce the risk of pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes (Thangaratinam, et al., 2012).
6. Easier labour
If you did exercise before you got pregnant, continuing to exercise while you are pregnant helps to reduce the amount of time you spend in labour. It also helps to prevent intervention during labour – like a Caesarean section (C-section), or a forceps delivery (Clapp, 1990).
So, the next time you visit your OB/GYN talk to them about getting active, what is the expected weight that you should gain during your pregnancy, and what diet should you be following. Your health is just as important as your baby’s!