There are so many reasons to exercise throughout life, but while you are pregnant it’s particularly important to keep moving. Even if you didn’t exercise before pregnancy, as long as your doctor approves, you should start a prenatal fitness program to increase your odds of a healthy pregnancy and birth experience.
Here are 8 reasons why every expectant moms should exercise regularly:
1. Labor and delivery may be easier.
No guarantees, of course, but strong abs and a fit cardiovascular system can give you more oomph and stamina for the pushing stage. One study found that prenatal water aerobics regulars were 58 percent less likely to request pain medication during labor than non-exercisers.
2. You can enjoy the greatest flexibility of your life.
Relaxin, a pregnancy hormone that loosens your pelvic joints in preparation for delivery, also relaxes the rest of your joints. With careful stretches, like those done in prenatal yoga workouts, you can capitalize on this window of opportunity.
3. Rapid recovery after childbirth.
With increased muscle tone from months of exercising the muscles weakened during pregnancy and less weight to lose afterward, women who perform targeted prenatal exercise regularly throughout pregnancy recover more quickly after giving birth.
4. Reduced chances of a Cesarean section.
A study in Spain concluded that exercising at least three times a week throughout pregnancy reduces your risk for a C-section birth.
5. You’re likely to gain less weight.
Research shows you might put on 7 pounds less than pregnant women who don’t work out, while still staying within the healthy weight-gain range.
6. Odds are, you’ll deliver a svelter baby.
Babies born with excess fat are significantly more likely to become overweight kindergardeners, and overweight newborns of moms with gestational diabetes are more prone to develop diabetes later in life.
7. Your labor may be shorter.
A landmark study found that among well-conditioned women who delivered vaginally, those who had continued training throughout their pregnancy experienced active labor for 4 hours and 24 minutes compared with 6 hours and 22 minutes for those who’d quit training early on. Two hours less of hard labor is nothing to sneer at!
8. You’ll bounce back faster after delivery.
Compared with new moms who were inactive during pregnancy, those who exercised are more likely to socialize and enjoy hobbies and entertainment post-baby. They just seem to cope better with the demands of new motherhood.