10 Ways Exercising While Pregnant Benefits Expecting Mothers and Growing Babies

10 Ways Exercising While Pregnant Benefits Expecting Mothers and Growing Babies

Here's why expecting mothers should stay active throughout pregnancy.

Once women find out they're pregnant, they do everything in their power to ensure a safe and healthy pregnancy—and some may even stop exercising, thinking is safer for mother and child. But as it turns out, exercising during pregnancy is safe, and it has numerous benefits for both the expecting mother and the growing baby.

Most doctors recommend women be active throughout their whole pregnancy, even if they haven't exercised before. Exercising during pregnancy provides great health benefits for the mother and the growing baby. Below are 10 of the most important benefits expecting mothers can gain from exercising at least three times a week for at least 30 minutes a day.

Exercise helps regulate blood sugar.

Regular exercise increases the use of fat as an energy source; this helps maintain a more consistent blood glucose level and decrease dizziness or feeling light-headed (symptoms of low blood sugar). Regular exercise also reduces insulin resistance, which causes a buildup of sugar in the bloodstream and can lead to gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes can lead to larger babies and problems with preterm labor. Exercising can help prevent or decrease the effects of gestational diabetes for the expecting mother and the growing infant.

Exercise helps regulate blood pressure. 

Having regulated blood pressure helps prevent feelings of dizziness and light-headedness. In an unregulated system, having high blood pressure is associated with preeclampsia, which can cause serious problems during pregnancy for both the expecting mother and the baby.

Exercise helps strengthen the cardiovascular system.

The more active a person is, the better blood is able to circulate throughout the body so that it does not pool in one area and cause swelling. This can prevent hemorrhoids, varicose veins, leg cramps, and ankle swelling.

Exercise helps strengthen the respiratory system.

Exercise improves the way your body utilizes oxygen and helps with transportation of oxygen by stimulating the growth of new small vessels in the body. Exercising can also help strengthen the placenta and improve the way the fetus receives oxygen and nutrients.

Exercise helps improve metabolism and digestion.

Regular exercise helps improve the way the mother’s utilizes the calories she is consuming so they are being used up instead of being stored as fat. Exercising also helps with digestion; the hormones released while exercising can help promote bowel movements and decrease constipation.

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.

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