Yes, you will gain weight during your pregnancy. You will have less energy, and you’ll want to sleep a lot, but these are no excuses for becoming a couch potato. You may not feel like hitting the gym, but maintaining your physical fitness during pregnancy offers a wealth of benefits.
You Will Have More Energy
Growing a baby takes a lot out of you, especially during the first and last trimesters. Rest is important, but staying active will actually increase your energy levels, allowing you to look and feel your best. Plus you will sleep better at night and will be less likely to be restless and uncomfortable. If you’re just not feeling up to an exercise routine, even a short walk around the block will work wonders.
You Will Reduce Back Pain
Back pain is one of the primary complaints of pregnant women. Your body is putting on weight pretty quickly, and a lot of the work of supporting that weight falls on your back. What is your best defense against back pain? A strong set of core muscles. You can still work your abs, even with a big belly; just avoid lying on your back for extended periods.
You Will Prepare Your Body for Labor and Delivery
They don’t call it labor for nothing! The birth of your child is one of the most intense workouts your body will ever have to face, and like running a marathon, a level of preparation is important. While staying fit during pregnancy doesn’t guarantee an easy labor, if your body is prepared, you will have more stamina, more strength, and more energy for the task at hand.
Reduce Your Risk of Gestational Diabetes
Gestational diabetes usually occurs during the third trimester, when the body fails to produce enough insulin to deal with the extra glucose that is circulating throughout the bloodstream. This can lead to birth complications if not treated properly. Physical activity, both before and during pregnancy, as been associated with a reduced risk of gestational diabetes. Aerobic exercises like walking, cycling, swimming, and yoga are great, low-impact exercises to keep you active and reduce the build-up of glucose in your bloodstream.
Quickly Recover Your Pre-Pregnancy Body
The healthier you are before labor and delivery, the quicker your body will be able to recover after birth. This is especially true of your core abdominal muscles. If these muscles are engaged and strengthened throughout your pregnancy, they will recover quickly as you regain your pre-pregnancy body. As an added bonus, your body will also be able to handle the physical demands of caring for a baby. You may not have a baby inside you, but you will still be carrying around eight to ten pounds of precious cargo every day, not to mention diaper bags, strollers, and car seats. It pays to be prepared.
What to Consider Before Starting an Exercise Routine During Pregnancy
Even healthy and fit pregnant mamas will have to make some adjustments to their fitness routines to take into account lower energy levels and a growing baby. Be sure to discuss any exercise plan with your doctor or midwife before beginning. Your health-care provider will be able to give you exercise guidelines based on your unique circumstances. For the most part, you will be able to do the same exercises during pregnancy that you did before, just at a slower pace. You should, however, avoid activities that could result in a fall.
Swimming is particularly enjoyable, as you will be more buoyant, and floating will take the strain off of your weight-bearing muscles. Yoga and prenatal fitness classes are often available at your local hospital, and there are a myriad of fitness videos available that are specifically geared toward pregnant women.
A healthy pregnancy starts with an active lifestyle. As your body grows and changes, it is important to maintain your fitness routine, or develop a new one. Not only will you feel better, but also you will reap the benefits throughout your pregnancy and beyond.