Training for two. How exercise can improve both mum and bub-to-be.
This is one for all those mums-to-be out there. Firstly, congratulations on the little bundle of joy growing inside, who is just itching to get into the world. It’s a beautiful time in life where you are getting ready to add a new member to the clan. It is also a strenuous time filled with doubt and uncertainty regarding a multitude of things.
I get this question often, “is it safe to exercise during pregnancy?” The short answer is, it’s not only safe, but there are many health benefits for both you and your baby.
The long answer is, as you enter you second, and more importantly, your third trimester, exercise type, intensity, and duration will need to be modified. But my focus today, is to highlight the benefits of exercise during pregnancy.
Exercising in any shape or from has a huge range of benefits. It can help reduce the risk of diabetes, make the birthing process easier on your body, and also help your bub to thrive. Not only that, this is a special time for a mother-to-be, and exercise can help improve that overall experience. The bond between mother and baby can be strengthened simply through exercise. You might sense your babies morning movement after light stretching, or notice them fall asleep with some rhythmic exercise
It is thrilling to learn about the different stages of your pregnancy and how your bub is growing. It is also important to understand your own body, and the changes it is going through, albeit somewhat trying and difficult at times.
Morning sickness, nausea, and fatigue are some of the more obvious signs of pregnancy. But many of you have likely experienced shortness of breath from doing simple, everyday tasks. But why is this? Your blood volume can increase by as much as 40% during pregnancy, and to deal with this increase, your heart volume slowly and steadily increases by 15-20%. This is nothing to worry about, but simply a process that all females go through to aid the pregnancy, much like ligaments stretching and thickening, in preparation for the birth. This process, as it gets into the second and third trimester, becomes less noticeable, as your body adapts, and you may find yourself feeling fitter than ever. Dr. James Clapp, Author of ‘Exercising Through Your Pregnancy’ discusses five changes that occur with your cardiovascular system during pregnancy and exercising.
1. Increased overall blood volume
2. Increased skin blood flow response
3. Increased heart chamber size
4. Increased blood volume pumped with each heart-beat
5. Increased oxygen delivery to tissue
Clapp's conclusion is that "…women who exercise regularly during pregnancy have more circulatory reserve, which improves their ability to deal with both anticipated (exercise, work) and unanticipated circulatory stress (haemorrhage, trauma, anaesthesia, and so forth)."
This means, that a mother who exercises (moderately) throughout pregnancy is stronger and much more efficient. Or as we like to call you, super mums!
Some might be wondering can this have an adverse affect on my baby? The answer is no. A 2003 review of the medical literature concludes: "Controlled prospective studies have demonstrated that moderate prenatal exercise during the second and third trimesters is useful to improve aerobic fitness and maternal-fetal physiological reserve without affecting fetal growth."
Further, a baby in the womb of a mother who has exercised moderately during pregnancy will likely be more resilient through labour.
From the same review above, it was found "The first thing we looked at during labor was the babies' heart rate responses to the contractions of labor. We found evidence that the babies of the women who continued to exercise tolerated the stress of the contractions much better than either the controls or the women who stopped exercise well before term."
There you have it mums to be, exercise is good! That’s said don’t go out and train to compete in an iron(wo)man. Moderate exercise 2-4 times per week is more than enough to get your body into tip-top shape for your birth.
Father & Founder - FitMamma