Here's why expecting mothers should stay active throughout pregnancy.
Exercise can improve mood.
When exercising, the body releases feel-good chemicals, such as endorphins, and neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, which can help alleviate depression.
Exercise can improve sleep quality.
It has been shown that the increase in body temperature from exercise helps trigger sleepiness as the body’s temperature drops slowly over time. Exercising during the day can also make an expecting mother more tired toward nighttime if she is having trouble sleeping.
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Exercise can ease body aches associated with pregnancy.
Regular exercise helps strengthen muscles that tend to become weak or overused as a woman’s body changes during pregnancy. Adapting proper body mechanics will also help ease pains associated with improper use of muscles as an expecting mother tries to adjust for the changes her body goes through during pregnancy.
Exercise can help prepare an expecting mother’s body for labor.
All of the previously mentioned adaptations that happen with regular exercise, along with improved muscle strength and endurance, can make a woman less tired during labor, and can make contractions more effective.
Exercise can help prepare the body for a quicker recovery.
Strengthening the muscles and areas that can become weak (abdomen, pelvis, etc.) after pregnancy will help a new mother be better equipped to maintain that strength postpartum. Regularly exercising and focusing on strengthening core muscles can better equip a new mother to deal with a diastasis recti. Working on strengthening the core and pelvic floor muscles can better equip a new mother to deal with incontinence that might occur after pregnancy.
Once the expecting mother’s OB-GYN has cleared her to exercise, and she does not have any contraindications, she can begin an exercise routine with something as simple as walking 30 minutes a day. If beginning a new exercise regime on her own is nerve-wracking, seek out a prenatal specialist such as a physical therapist or women’s health specialist. Working with a specialist can help an expecting mother begin exercising properly by teaching the basics and providing appropriate workout routines.