Are You Fit To Deliver Your Baby?
We all know that following a regular exercise plan during pregnancy has it’s benefits, especially when it comes to childbirth and post pregnancy recovery.
But can we take it too far? Just how is your pregnancy going to affect your body, and how easy is it to push over the boundaries?
Benefits of Exercise During Pregnancy
Lets take a quick look at how following a regular exercise program is going to be good for you, your pregnancy, your baby and the delivery.
- Prevention — This could quite easily be the only reason you need to exercise while pregnant. Exercise will definitely help reduce all sorts of common aches and pains, from back pain, effects of poor posture, moodiness and not being able to sleep properly throughout your pregnancy.
- Preparation — By following a regular exercise program you will definitely be preparing your body for the process, stresses and strains of childbirth. Focusing on upper body strength will also prepare your body of caring for your new born post pregnancy.
- Recovery — Of course the secret to getting your body back into shape post pregnancy depends largely on how much exercise you get during your pregnancy.
How will pregnancy affect my body?
Being pregnant is certainly going to have it’s effects on your body and it is important that we take these into account and make compromises in the way you exercise in order to maximize the benefits of your exercise rather than do more damage.
After all, you want you to be fit enough to deliver – and to do so by looking after yourself and baby.
- Your Cardiovascular System
Of course now that you have another human being which is developing in your uterus you can expect that your blood pushing through your body will increase up to 1 1/2 times the normal amount.
This extra blood which is now flowing through your system will naturally increase your heart rate while lowering your blood pressure. This is why many women complain of feeling light headed or have a heart rate which always seems to be racing along. This is why we do not recommend that your heart rate go above 140 beats per minute when exercising. This could easily place unnecessary strain on you – which could lead to harming your baby as well.
- Respiratory System
As your pregnancy progresses your oxygen requirements will increases by around 20%. To accommodate this increase there has to be an increase in the number of times you breathe and how deep your breath is. You are also more sensitive to carbon dioxide in the air while you are pregnant, as a result you breathe more quickly.
This means that although you may have been fit prior to your pregnancy, you may find it more difficult to do the same amount of exercise as you did before.
This also means that it may be easier for you to damage yourself – even feel faint more easily which may lead you to falling over and injuring yourself or your baby.
If you are exercising and you feel dizzy or faint – stop!
- Musculoskeletal System
Progesterone causes the release of relaxin which is a hormone responsible for all ligaments. This hormone is responsible for the increase in flexibility as well as a potential cause of back pain.
It also means that your joints may be weaker than what they usually are, so take care when doing exercise routines. Try not to push yourself too much – exercise during pregnancy is all about making sure that your body is strong enough to deliver your baby, it’s not about winning a weight lifting contest. Look after your joints rather than push them to their limits.
- Temperature Control
Now that you are pregnant your metabolism is going to be working overtime and this is why most pregnant women feel as though their internal air conditioning is constantly malfunctioning. It is because of this simple change in your body that it is very easy for you to sweat more, loose more fluid while exercising and, well, overheat. Keeping your intake of fluids up with definitely help keep you cool and remain hydrated while you exercise.
So what are the benefits of exercise?
Well for starters – the average length of labor for those women who have followed a regular exercise plan during their pregnancy is 30% shorter than those who have not followed a regular routine.
This has got to be the best reason to exercise right?
Also, there has been a definite lower rate of forceps use during delivery. This reduction is also carried across to the number of emergency c-sections which have been carried out on women who do exercise vs women who don’t exercise.
In general women who have exercised on a regular basis have easier pregnancies, and this means that they have been able to ‘enjoy’ their delivery experience more than others…
… and perhaps this is the most important of all reasons to follow a regular exercise plan.