As a Toronto birth doula I am passionate about women having the best possible pregnancy. Please read what my guest writer Dr. Charles-Davie has to say about exercise and pregnancy.
Exercises are usually encouraged during pregnancy but most mothers fail to do so. Some give the excuse of being too tired or weak or they do not know the kind of exercises to do. Most mothers think exercise is just an added stress to the pregnancy cycle. They are wrong.
Exercising during pregnancy has a lot of benefits. We will be looking at 6 major benefits every pregnant woman will love to have.
1. Reduces Backaches
Most pregnant women complain about backaches, which makes us understand why we often see them place their hands behind their back as a support.
The weight of the baby puts a lot of weight on your back, which causes backache.
Due to the pregnancy, you can’t take medications to relieve your pain. The only drug that can be used to relieve the pain is by exercise.
Exercises, such as yoga or pelvic tilts, stretch out the back and help relieve pain and any other associated problems such as tingling sensations going down the legs. You can also use a good pillow to support the pregnancy when you sleep.
2. Improves your posture
We tend to assume postures that are comfortable which are usually not the right posture. This inaccurate posture over stretches some muscles and under uses some. This muscular imbalance affects our posture and also contributes to neck or back pain.
When you exercise, it balances out the muscle and helps you to maintain a proper posture throughout the pregnancy period. It tones up your muscles so that they are strong enough to correct your bad posture and support you and the pregnancy. Yoga is a great exercise for improving posture.
3. Strengthens your pelvic floor muscles
How many of us know kegel exercises? These exercises strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. The pelvic floor muscles are muscles that support our pelvic organs. Pelvic organs in a woman are bladder, bowel and the uterus.
As the baby grows, the uterus stretches and puts a lot of stress on the pelvic floor muscles. This strains the muscles and in the process they get weak. Weak pelvic floor muscles can no longer support your organs and it becomes difficult to control urine, faeces or wind.
Kegel exercises help to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles during pregnancy and prevent any organ prolapse that can occur after childbirth.
4. Prevents gestational diabetes
This usually occurs only during pregnancy. The body goes through changes when women are pregnant. Sometimes, one of these changes can make your body resistant to the insulin your body is producing. Having high blood sugar can be harmful to the mother and the baby.
Exercise has shown to have a lot of benefits when it comes to diabetes. Exercises make our muscles hungry, which makes the muscle take up more glucose and in the process, we burn up the glucose, which reduces the sugar content in the body. It also makes our body sensitive to the insulin, which assists, in further breaking down the sugar.
5. Improves your cardiovascular endurance
Some pregnant mothers can testify that activities, like walking or climbing up the stairs, make them breathless. The heart pumps blood around the body, the lungs add oxygen to the blood and the blood vessels transport this oxygenated blood around the body to provide energy.
When a woman is pregnant, she needs to take in more oxygen because she is now providing for two people. Exercises such as brisk walking, jogging, and riding a recumbent exercise bike can help the blood circulate faster and your muscles will effectively absorb the oxygen and therefore reduce your breathlessness.
6. It makes you sleep better
Exercises have a very soothing and relaxing effect. After exercising, your body will feel tired and as you sleep, it improves blood circulation round the body and makes you feel relaxed while you sleep. You can also try to choose the best mattress that will support your weight during pregnancy.
Guest article by Dr. Charles-Davies OA, a medical doctor who loves to share relevant health information.