The exercise rules have changed dramatically in the last few decades. Pregnant women are no longer considered fragile and weak. They are amazing machines and they should continue to be strong and active as their pregnancy continues. The benefits of a well designed prenatal exercise program are huge!
Not only does exercise help pregnant women feel great and help to keep energy levels up, but women who exercise regularly during their pregnancies report less occurrences of discomforts associated with pregnancy (swollen extremities, leg cramps, nausea, varicose veins, insomnia, fatigue, pelvic pressure, back pain and constipation to name a few!) Exercise can help with controlling gestational diabetes as well as other pregnancy-induced conditions like urinary incontinence, diastasis recti, and pregnancy related hypertension.
Working out can help to improve posture and body movement while also helping with circulation. Another bonus, staying active can help women to avoid excessive weight gain over the course of their pregnancy. It can also act as a mood stabilizer, with all those hormones racing through their body, this can regulate feelings of anxiety and depression.
Healthy mothers who lift weights and exercise throughout their pregnancies have been shown to experience far less instances of cesarean section or forceps (up to 70% less as opposed to non active mother!) They have also been shown to have shorter labor times and are less likely to need labor inducing drugs too. Overall, there is a significantly lower rate of complicated or problematic deliveries with moms who were active.
The benefits of exercise continue into post birth recovery as well. Women who exercised during pregnancy are able to return to their normal daily activities faster. They have more energy reserves and also tend to retain less weight post birth. Exercising women have been shown to experience less postpartum depression as well.
Both weight training and cardiovascular activities are encouraged. Remember that quality is better than quantity! Proper progressions and excellent form is highly emphasized. As the pregnancy progresses, moms-to-be will not be able to do as much as before, whether it is their cardio capacity or due to the fact that their changing body gets in the way of certain movements now, and that is okay! The program should reflect and embrace these changes. It is especially important to work on strengthening the pelvic floor and practice “hollowing” by exhaling hard and pulling the stomach toward the spine with a slight pelvic tilt forward. These compression exercises help train the deep transverse abdominal and pelvic muscles. This will help with delivery and also the mother’s recovery after the baby is born. There is no one-size-fits all approach to prenatal programs, just keep moving and take care of your body to keep you and baby healthy! Women should focus on their posterior chain (back side of the body) to help strengthen and combat their changing bodies and bellies. Strengthening the glutes and back muscles is very important. Moms should also avoid plank positions past 4 months, and they are encouraged instead to work on their abdominals and pelvic floor in a supine or seated position.
Spindle Fitness is another local, Chicago business in close proximity to Roots Family Chiropractic!
This gym is unique due to focusing on individualized, expert programming for each individual's needs and goals.
Their flexible schedule and on friendly, on-site personal trainers allows for a great gym experience!
Thank you to Leah at Spindle Fitness for being this week's guest blogger!