For many of us, pregnancy can have you feeling fat, frumpy and wondering what anyone is talking about when they mention the ‘pregnancy glow’. Not only will exercise help you to prevent excessive weight gain during pregnancy, your mind and body will benefit from the endorphin’s that are released during exercise, helping you to discover your pregnancy glow (or at least feel a little closer to experiencing it!)
Help to prevent Post Natal Depression (PND)
1 in 5 women will experience post natal depression. Evidence shows that exercising can help to prevent and manage PND. Once bub arrives, time and energy to exercise can become a challenge. If you are physically active during your pregnancy you are much more likely to continue exercising post birth. If not, you will only find fitting in exercise even more challenging than it already is once baby arrives. For more information about prevention and management of PND, see my previous blog post Supporting Women With PND.
Regain your pre-pregnancy physique quicker!
Although this should not be the emphasis of exercise during pregnancy and post birth, and there is no rush to get your pre-pregnancy physique back, you will be in a far better position to look and feel good if you maintain a healthy weight during pregnancy. Many ‘healthy lifestyle choices’ go hand in hand such as healthy eating and exercise. Keeping mindful of how you nourish and your body during pregnancy and maintaining some level of physical activity is important for your health and the health of your baby.
Prevent ‘cankles’ and having to buy new shoes!
Okay, so many women would love ANY excuse to buy a few new pairs of shoes! However, having to up size your shoes due to foot and ankle swelling during pregnancy perhaps leaves you feeling unglamorous in the later stages of pregnancy…. Exercising on a regular basis will help your blood circulation, and help to control swelling and oedema throughout the body, not only in the lower limbs. Many women experience ‘carpel tunnel’ and other symptoms caused by excessive fluid during pregnancy. Engaging in regular exercise may help to reduce such systems. Putting your feet up (elevating your limbs) can also help. If you are experiencing significant lower limb swelling or discomfort, you may also like to seek advice from your preferred practitioner regarding compression stockings or socks that can aid circulation and reduce swelling.
Strengthen your Pelvic Floor!
Exercise such as yoga, swimming and pilates can help to strengthen/maintain your pelvic floor muscles. It is a known fact that many women experience incontinence postpartum. Having strong pelvic floor muscles not only help to reduce incontinence post pregnancy, but will also reduce your risk of low back pain and other musculoskeletal disorders during pregnancy. For some tips about how to perform your Pelvic Floor Exercises Click here.
Prepare yourself for labour!
All pregnancies are different and all births are different. Many factors will be completely out of your control when you go into labour. With this in mind it is reassuring to know that you are in good physical condition for the task ahead. Giving birth is very physical and potentially exhausting. If you are fit and active you put yourself in a better position for your birth than if you avoid exercise during pregnancy.
Connect your Mind and Body
If you have ever heard of ‘Hypnobirthing’ you will understand the theory that having a strong connection between your mind and body will allow you to manage the discomfort of labour more effectively. Even if you’re not into ‘Hypnobirthing’ it does make sense that learning breathing control and having a strong connection between your mind and body will have some benefits during labour. Ever found yourself in a strenuous physical situation where you think ‘ ‘Its too hard I have to stop!’. We know that the mind will ‘give up’ at least 7 times before your body will, so learning to take control of these thoughts through mediation and practicing physically challenging tasks will put you in good stead for your labour and birth.
Meet new people and start a Mothers Group.
Pregnancy group classes are the perfect way to meet other like minded expecting mothers. These women obviously enjoy similar exercise to you. Take the opportunity to meet these women and make valuable connections. They may turn out to be your best friends and training buddies once baby comes along!
Learn self care and time out!
One thing mothers will often agree upon is once children come along, you are always your last priority. Allowing yourself some time out for self care and to do an activity is very important as a mum. Get into the habit during pregnancy and aim to maintain it once bub arrives. Be mindful that when you allow yourself time out, you allow yourself to recuperate and restore ultimately allowing you to be a better mum. Whatever physical activity you choose to enjoy during pregnancy please ensure that it is safe. I wish you all the best for your pregnancy journey, and hope that you feel empowered to continue to enjoy exercising.
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