Pregnancy is a miraculous experience that leaves some women positively glowing, whilst others encounter symptoms causing them to feel quite the opposite. Whilst each woman experiences a journey that is beautifully unique, research has found similarities in the way exercise during pregnancy can help a woman to nurture her baby as well as have a positive impact on her labour.
Women that placed a focused energy on increasing their nutrition and continuing gentle exercise throughout pregnancy have often reported feeling less of the severity in the symptoms often associated with pregnancy, but thanks to relatively recent scientific evidence women now have every reason for continuing to enjoy exercise right the way through pregnancy. Why so? The latest research has unveiled a multitude of benefits when it comes to maintaining fitness during pregnancy, with many of these outcomes coming to fruition during the birthing process.
A study funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (Australia) has shown that the benefits of maintaining a healthy level of exercise during pregnancy resulted in a reduction of the number of babies born over four kilograms in weight, as well as a reduced chance of moderate to severe respiratory distress syndrome and a shorter length of stay in hospital for both the mother and newborn1. This study also revealed that 50% of women are overweight or obese during pregnancy, and therefore another benefit of maintaining physical activity during pregnancy is to ensure you achieve a healthy and appropriate level of weight gain across your gestation period.
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (United Kingdom) promote that staying active during pregnancy helps your body and mind to adjust to the changes that occur to your body during pregnancy. They also maintain that your body will be better positioned to be able to accommodate the natural weight gain that comes with carrying a baby, as well as attaining a greater level of fitness in order to help you cope with the physical strain of the delivery process2. Did you also know that you’re likely to achieve a better quality of sleep during your pregnancy if you’re able to raise your heart rate and get some fresh air during the day?
As well as the benefits of maintaining cardio exercise during pregnancy, women have reported that strength conditioning such as lifting light weights or completing body weight exercises such as gentle lunges have made them better conditioned for a shorter labour and fewer delivery complications. It’s also important to mention the fact that your body also needs time to adjust to carrying your newborn baby everywhere!
Taking the steps to remain as active as possible during your pregnancy will leave you feeling fit and prepared for labour, as well as arming you with the best possible tools to commence the exciting journey that is your new life as a parent.