Exercise in Pregnancy Benefits

When you are pregnant, there are many benefits for staying active, providing your pregnancy is progressing well and there are no restrictions which would stop you from exercising.

Check with your Doctor or Midwife regarding these, but medical conditions that would generally stop you from exercising include risk of premature labour, leaking of amniotic fluid, vaginal bleeding, high blood pressure, placenta previa and intra-uterine growth retardation (i.e. your baby not growing as expected for your dates).

Many women can enjoy an active pregnancy, exercising throughout, with Doctor's or Midwife's checks giving reassurance that there is no problem with continuing to exercise.Moderate aerobic exercise is not hazardous to your unborn baby. Babies tend to be leaner however, in women who continue with exercising closer to maximal intensity levels.

There are many benefits to exercising regularly throughout your pregnancy. These include: 

  • Maintaining or increasing your fitness level will give you more energy to deal with pregnancy and labour (you can often 'cope' with labour better). You will also have more energy after the birth to look after your new baby. A minimum of 15 minutes of aerobic activity three or more times per week is needed to gain these benefits.

  • Moderate regular exercise enhances the release of beta endorphins which can provide a sense of well being and decrease pain perception during pregnancy. This can lead to less lower back pain, headaches or round ligament pain.

  • According to one study, women who didn't exercise regularly had a 2.5% increase in endorphins with exercise, whereas women who exercised regularly over two months had a 57%, 79% then a 145% increase in endorphin release with exercise.

  • Women who are fit will have a greater release of beta endorphins during their labour and therefore reduced pain perception in labour.

  • Improved well being and self image during and after pregnancy.

  • Reduced back pain due to more toned muscles to support the back and pelvic joints (usually, unless you have a pre existing back or pelvic joint problem or you exercise incorrectly).

  • Your muscles will be more toned which improves the benefits gained by your abdominal and pelvic floor muscle exercises, and means they will go back to normal? more easily and quickly after the birth.

  • Better muscle strength and coordination, which helps you to adjust more easily to your changing shape.

  • Improved sleep patterns - more slow-wave sleep with fit individuals.

  • After birth you will have more energy to cope with the demands of motherhood.

  • Exercising during and then after pregnancy will help you to return to your pre-pregnancy weight earlier and more easily after the birth.For more information on the Do's and Don'ts of pregnancy exercise, ideal exercises during pregnancy and exercises to avoid during pregnancy, read Exercise during Pregnancy.

Learn more about your Pelvic Floor for Birth and Recovery here

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