Exercise during Pregnancy – Benefits for Mom and Baby

Benefits of exercise for mom and baby

As long as mom is healthy and able to exercise during pregnancy, research shows there are numerous benefits not only for mom, but also for baby while in utero. However, as pregnancy develops and your body changes, you may need to make adjustments in the type, duration and level of exertion of your exercise. A good rule of thumb is to continue any exercise you were doing on a regular basis prior to your pregnancy, except for exercises which could putstrain or pressure on your abdomen, such as yoga poses lying down on your stomach, or require you to be on your back after the first trimester. You should also reduce the level of exertion to what feels most comfortable to you. For expectant mothers, who did not exercise prior to becoming pregnant, it is still a good idea to start an exercise regime as early as possible in pregnancy.

Benefits for Mom

Regular exercise throughout pregnancy can help mom adjust to changes in her body due to added weight and changes in hormones, including relief from muscle strain, improve posture and decrease back pain, as well as help battle fatigue commonly experienced in pregnancy. Additionally, researchers continue to look at the role of exercise to reduce the risk of gestational diabetes. They have found mothers who were active before becoming pregnant had lower rates of gestational diabetes later in their pregnancy. Exercise can also help regulate mood swings and prepare mom for labor and delivery.

Benefits for Baby

It makes sense that if mom is healthier during pregnancy due to regular exercise, then baby will be healthier also. First, mothers who follow a moderate to high intensity exercise regime weekly, tend to better control gestational weight gain. This is good for baby, because research has found a link between mother’s weight gain during pregnancy and the baby’s increased risk of becoming obese in childhood or later in life. Second, by decreasing the risk of developing gestational diabetes by exercising during pregnancy, mom reduces the risk of labor and delivery complications due to having a larger baby. Finally, researchers also say a mother who is physically active during pregnancy helps give her baby a boost intellectually.

Best Exercises During Pregnancy 

Not all exercise is equal during pregnancy. Avoid exercise that force you to lie on your back (after the first trimester), contact sports, scuba diving, exercises with a high-risk of falling (such as skiing), and exercising at high altitudes. However, there are several types of exercise that are safe during pregnancy including:

Walking

Running (if you were previously a runner)

Swimming

Prenatal Yoga

Dancing

Low-impact exercise classes

Stretching

Weight Training

Talk to your health care provider if you have questions about what exercise is best for you. Some women who are high-risk during pregnancy may be advised by their health care provider not to continue exercise during pregnancy. You may contact our Hillcrest Pregnancy Care Clinics at 918.591.2500 for the N. Lewis location or 918.392.3944 for the E. 31st street location. 

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