I took a prenatal/postnatal certification course in the past and was so excited to learn how beneficial exercise was both for the physically active mom and for the baby in the womb. Of course, every exerciser should check with their doctor to be sure that he/she knows that she's a part of an exercise program and to be sure that they don't have any recommendations or restrictions. Barring those, pregnant women can participate in exercise programs and do wonderful things for themselves and for their babies.
Some cool benefits and findings about exercise and pregnancy...
- In a 1981 study, researchers concluded that runners experienced a lower incidence of backache, constipation, varicose veins, and edema versus non-runners.
- Another study found that regular exercisers had a decreased incidence of preeclampsia and PIH (pregnancy induced hypertension).
- Exercising positively impacts weight gain. Overall weight gain during pregnancy was reduced by about 7 pounds and fat deposition was reduced by three percent.
- Another study concluded that women who were aerobically more active during pregnancy returned to their pre-pregnancy weight more quickly than those who remained sedentary.
- Clapp (a pregnancy and exercise researcher) compared women who exercised through pregnancy and those who didn't. He found that a year after birth, the average weight retention of those who didn't exercise was three times greater and fat retention of the non-exercisers was twice as much as those women who exercised.
- Another 1981 study by the Melpomene Institute for Research found that incidences of postpartum depression was fewer in those women who exercised.
- Shorter hospital stays have also been documented for those women who exercise through pregnancy.
- Not surprisingly, women who exercise increase their work capacity. This can positively affect the labor and delivery of exercising women.
- Clapp's study of women who exercised regularly during their pregnancies found that women had shorter labors (average of 2 hrs less), 24% fewer C-sections, 14% less use of forceps, and their babies had higher APGAR scores. They also tend to have less complicated labors.
- Women who exercised through their pregnancies also experience a decrease of...
35% in the need for pain relief
75% in incidence of maternal exhaustion
50% in the need to artificially rupture the membranes
50% in the need to either induce or stimulate labor w/pitocin
50% in the need to intervene because of abnormalities in the fetal heart rate
50% in the need for episiotomy
75% in the need for operative intervention (forceps delivery or C-section)
- The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness found that active women also perceive labor to be less difficult using the perceived exertion scale.
- Exercise improves overall strength and endurance, perfect preparation for pregnancy and delivery!
- Aerobic exercise has positive benefits for the growing baby.
- The placenta of exercising women is forced to work harder and therefore grows faster and becomes more efficient in its supplying the fetus with oxygen.
With my new "condition" as a friend jokingly called it, I'm looking forward to putting some of these findings about exercise and pregnancy to the test! Watch out, baby; here we go!