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Active Moms, Healthy Babies - The Importance of Physical Activity During Your Pregnancy

Exercise during pregnancy is safe and vital for both the physical and mental well-being of expectant mothers. Staying active helps manage weight gain, reduces the risk of gestational diabetes, improves mood, and promotes better sleep. Additionally, it can ease common pregnancy discomforts such as back pain and constipation. Here's why it's crucial and what the current recommendations are in easy-to-understand terms.


Physical Benefits of Exercise During Pregnancy


  1. Weight Management: Pregnancy naturally leads to weight gain, but exercising helps control it. It keeps excess weight gain in check, which is beneficial for both the mother and the baby.

  2. Reduced Risk of Gestational Diabetes: Regular physical activity lowers the risk of developing gestational diabetes, a condition that affects blood sugar levels during pregnancy. This is important for the health of both the mother and the baby.

  3. Improved Strength and Endurance: Pregnancy can be physically demanding. Exercise, helps build strength and endurance, making it easier to cope with the challenges of pregnancy and childbirth.


Mental Health Benefits of Exercise During Pregnancy


  1. Mood Enhancement: Hormonal changes during pregnancy can sometimes lead to mood swings and feelings of anxiety or depression. Exercise releases endorphins, which are natural mood lifters, helping women take control of their mental health during pregnancy.

  2. Stress Reduction: Pregnancy can bring about stress due to various factors such as physical discomfort, anticipation of childbirth, or concerns about the baby's health. Exercise acts as a natural stress reliever, helping to alleviate these feelings and promote a sense of calmness.

  3. Better Sleep: Many pregnant women struggle with sleep disturbances. Regular exercise can improve sleep quality by promoting relaxation and reducing insomnia symptoms.


Current Recommendations for Exercise During Pregnancy


The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that pregnant women aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity spread throughout the week. This translates to about 30 minutes of exercise on most days. Activities such as brisk walking, swimming, stationary cycling, and low-impact aerobics are excellent choices.

It's important to listen to your body and avoid activities that pose a high risk of injury or excessive strain. Additionally, pregnant women should incorporate strength training exercises that target major muscle groups, aiming for two or three sessions per week. These exercises can include bodyweight exercises, resistance bands, or free weights with emphasis of completion placed on the promotion of proper form and mechanics with movement throughout a comfortable, pain-free range.


Exercise during pregnancy is generally considered to be safe and beneficial. It is important to be aware though of contraindications and precautions to the performance of exercise during pregnancy.  If concerns arise and/or you have any questions, please consult your obstetric provider for clarity, especially if there are known underlying health concerns or complications. Your provider should be able to provide you with personalized recommendations based upon your individual circumstances.


Conclusion


In summary, exercise during pregnancy offers a multitude of benefits for both the mother and the baby, including improved physical health, enhanced mood, and reduced stress. Women without contraindications should exercise regularly, with monitoring for tolerance. By following current recommendations and engaging in safe and appropriate activities, expectant mothers can enjoy a healthier pregnancy experience and help set themselves up for success postpartum!


If you find yourself having difficulties maintaining the degree of activity you desire during pregnancy, consult a pelvic physical therapist so that they may be able to assist you in maintaining your health during your pregnancy!

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