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Exercise and Pregnancy
by Rebecca Garland

Pregnancy is a beautiful time, but it can do some not so beautiful things to your body and energy level. All the literature urges pregnant women to stay active and that exercise can help ease labor and speed recovery. Many pregnant women would love to stay active, but are either too tired thanks to pregnancy fatigue or are scared away by the same literature telling them to take it easy and not exercise strenuously. What’s a pregnant woman to do?

She should exercise carefully, of course. Exercise can actually help with morning sickness and fatigue in the first trimester. It can help keep some of the extra pounds away in the second and finally, exercise can help ease the aches and pains of the third. It can also help bring on labor once the body is getting ready to go – why else would so many women in labor be strolling around the labor and delivery floor?

Pregnancy Exercises
The bottom line of exercise during pregnancy is that low-key is the way to go and that a little is better than none. If you’re battling severe fatigue, or morning sickness has you doubled over, a gentle stroll in the sunshine and fresh air can help move the blood around and give you a little energy boost. If you’re fifty pounds heavier than you were eight months ago, taking a bike ride or jogging would be a bad idea, but walking or, even better, swimming can be great.

Certain exercises are great for pregnant women. Walking, swimming and yoga are all low impact yet help burn extra calories and boost energy. Others, such as running, biking, and aerobics are safe for a few months, but in poor taste once your center of balance shifts and your ligaments begin to loosen.

Exercise Safely
It’s important to exercise safely while pregnant. That means you must be on the lookout for your baby’s health and your own. Very strenuous exercise in early pregnancy has been known to affect the pregnancy.

Very strenuous would include lifting very heavy weights or running marathons if you’re not conditioned to. Your doctor can give you guidance as to how safe your particular exercise is for your pregnancy, but gentle is always better – you’re supposed to gain weight; you don’t have to burn it all off now.

Pregnancy does more than just grow a cute little belly with a baby inside. Your ligaments all start to loosen which makes certain exercises unsafe. Your hips start to separate a bit and your balance is severely impacted by the growing belly. It can be hard to stand up late in pregnancy which means you need to be even more careful. Don’t push yourself to the limit. Your heart is already working harder just pumping blood for two.

The Benefits of Exercise
The real benefits of exercise during pregnancy have a bit to do with labor, and a lot to do with your health. Yes, exercise can help a little with enduring labor. After all, labor is comparable to running a marathon (or two.) But it will do a tremendous amount to keep your blood moving and to decrease your stress level throughout the pregnancy and beyond.

Stress is definitely bad for you and the baby, so anything to reduce that stress in a healthy way is a good thing. Exercise also gives you time to focus on yourself and the little one growing inside you. Treat your body well; it’s doing an amazing job.


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