I firmly believe that being physically and mentally strong prior to becoming pregnant will help you manage the challenging demands that pregnancy brings. If you are overweight prior to pregnancy then evidence suggests you are at greater risk of complications such as gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, pre-eclampsia, thrombosis and urinary tract infections. In addition to preparing yourself for pregnancy, staying fit and healthy during pregnancy has many benefits, both for mum and baby.
A Healthy Mum creates the best possible environment for a Healthy Baby
The What’s and Why’s in more detail:
Positive Mental Attitude: Challenging yourself through physically testing workouts is an ideal way to develop mental strength. Knowing you can handle tough situations when your body is well and truly exhausted, and having that deep physical reserve to draw upon is a superb benefit you get from training. Knowing what it’s like to want to give up, but not being able to, and challenging our bodies in a controlled way helps to banish that can’t-do attitude and show us that we can do, and are capable of achieving great things.
Energy Boost: Any form of exercise gives us a boost of energy – the natural endorphins that are released are the rewarding feel-good factor. Through exercise we can banish the sluggishness and put the spring back in our step.
Decreasing Pregnancy Related Symptoms: There is no denying that over the course of your pregnancy the additional weight gain, perhaps swelling and a general feeling of lethargy can set in. Through regular exercise you can decrease the effect of these symptoms by, as noted above, boosting your natural energy resources.
Gestational Diabetes Risk Reduced: This is one of the most common conditions during pregnancy, and in overweight women the risk is even greater (evidence points to a potential 50% increased risk). By reducing your weight prior to pregnancy and staying active throughout you will help to reduce the risk. “Based on the current evidence, maintaining a physically active lifestyle prior to and during early pregnancy protects against the development of GDM.” The Role of Exercise in Reducing The Risks of Gestational Diabetes Mellitus, Womens Health.
Weight Control: In general, you can prevent additional weight gain by eating a healthy and varied diet, and in the correct quantities to nourish yourself and your baby. It’s only in the latter stages of pregnancy that you may need to top up your recommended calorie intake, and even then, the guidelines say may only an extra 200 calories per day (that’s about a bowl of cereal+milk, or a banana). It’s a misconception that you need to eat for two!
Better Sleep Quality: It’s commonly known that those who exercise regularly have better quality (and perhaps quantity) sleep. There’s no difference when you’re pregnant. Perhaps it is even more important during pregnancy because you should be doing everything possible to avoid stress and keep your sympathetic nervous system calm and relaxed. A relaxed mum will create a wonderfully nurturing, calm and peaceful environment for the baby.
Strong Labour & Delivery: It stands to reason that if you prepare your body for a physical challenge then you will cope with it better. Having strong muscles in any situation means that you can do a given activity for longer before fatigue sets in, or indeed shorten the time required for an activity because you can go faster and stronger. Think about sprinting; if you have put in the hours with your training and have strong muscles then you can run the 100m quicker than someone who has just embarked on a couch-to-5k programme. For pregnancy and birth it’s the same. You should be looking to increase your core and pelvic floor strength, but also upper body and leg strength too. No-one can claim you will have an easy birth if you are stronger and fitter, both labour and birth may be easier. You may even reduce your labour time by keeping up regular exercise through your pregnancy.
Postnatal Recovery Speed Quicker: If you are strong prior to pregnancy, then your base level of fitness will be greater, and that in turn will put you in a better position to heal and recover quicker. In order to repair your muscles need a good oxygen and blood supply, so by putting in some work with regular training prior to pregnancy you are giving yourself a head start for the postnatal period.
What can you do? If it’s not clear already, you need to be active in some way on a regular basis. There are some exercises you need to avoid, but each person is unique, with their own starting point. We have a specifically trained personal trainer who can offer advice, guidance and individually designed training programmes to help you through your pregnancy. Ideally you will have started your fitness journey with us prior to conceiving, but if you are already pregnant get in touch and we’ll have a chat about how we can help make your pregnancy the best possible.
Do’s and Don’ts of Pregnancy Fitness to follow.
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