As pregnancy progresses, the body begins to undergo a host of physical changes as a way to accommodate the growing baby. More specifically, as the uterus grows, a woman’s center of gravity begins to shift. Further, the pelvic floor takes on additional stress as the baby’s weight increases, and joints begin to loosen in response to hormones. All of these physiological changes make good posture, cardiovascular health, and strength crucial to a healthy and comfortable pregnancy.
Poor posture during pregnancy can weaken the muscles of the back and torso, causing back pain and discomfort during pregnancy. In addition to providing cardiovascular benefits, prenatal exercise strengthens the abdominal muscles, which are needed to support the torso and maintain digestion.
Prenatal fitness is an important component of a healthy pregnancy. Most doctors now recognize that staying physically active during pregnancy allows women to remain, low-risk patients, thereby allowing them a wide array of options for labor and delivery.
Prenatal exercise has been shown to lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels. In fact, a 1992 study found that women who showed signs of gestational diabetes were able to lower their blood sugar levels to a normal range simply by doing aerobic exercise for 20 to 30 minutes, three times a week.
Further, another research study, conducted by the Family Practice Research Journal, found that mothers who exercised at least 20 minutes a day, at least three times a week for at least 20 weeks of their pregnancy had fewer complications and shorter labors than mothers who did not exercise.
Exercise has been shown to influence a woman’s emotional state during pregnancy, as well. A 2003 study revealed that mothers who exercised during pregnancy reported lower incidences of anxiety, depression, and pregnancy-specific stress while in their first and second trimesters.
Other obvious benefits of prenatal exercise include:
- Back pain relief
- Improved posture
- Improved circulation
- Increased energy and less fatigue
- Decreased insomnia
- Improved postnatal recovery