pregnant woman on exercise ballpregnant woman on exercise ball

Prenatal Exercise: is it *actually* important?

By Babe

As with exercise in general, there are countless benefits. Mind, body, and spirit each reap the rewards of healthy physical activity. With a few guidelines, physical activity can turn into an effective prenatal exercise routine that you’ll love. 

What Are the Benefits of Prenatal Exercise?

A Prenatal Exercise Program Can Boost Energy Levels

Energy can really feel hard to come by as your pregnancy progresses. If you’re experiencing that right now, you might wonder how to exercise with everything else your body is doing. Isn’t walking to the bathroom nine times a night to pee enough?

Getting regular exercise during pregnancy helps lift energy levels and put you in a good mood. It’s like the women’s health version of the “You’ve got to spend money to make money” kind of thing.

The endorphins released during your yoga class will give you a boost that helps the rest of the day feel like you’re coasting downhill.

Exercise Can Help You Sleep Better 

Sleep is another one of those things that can feel like it’s been lost out the bedroom window or during pregnancy. You’re so tired from all the hard work your body and brain are doing to create a real-life human person inside of your tummy.

Yet, somehow when you get to bed at night, you have difficulty falling asleep. (And it’s not just your baby doing their own gymnastic routine inside your belly.)

Exercise is an effective method to help improve sleep quality, and that goes for when you’re pregnant or not. Get a little workout and stretch in during the day, and when it’s time for bed, you’ll slip into your luxury maternity PJs and drift off to sleep faster than you can glance over the shortlist of baby names in your head. 

Reduce Pregnancy Uncomfortable Pregnancy Side Effects

This is another one that, at first, seems like it could be counterintuitive. If you’re feeling sore, achy, and swollen, you might not feel like exercising. Like, won’t that make you even more sore, achy, and swollen? 

Prenatal exercise can help alleviate pregnancy symptoms like lower back pain or even bloating and constipation. It helps get things moving and increase blood flow throughout your body, improving circulation and moderating your blood pressure.

For some pregnant women, it will help with swollen feet and legs, especially if you engage in exercises like swimming, where there is not a lot of pressure on your legs. While activities like jogging or dancing will help with blood flow, your lower body might want to swell up a bit if you’re on your feet for long. 

Take breaks, and make sure that as part of your exercise recovery and daily routine, you use Down, Girl Swell Relief as a soothing solution to your tired and swollen feet, ankles, and legs. 

Prepare Your Body for Delivery

Along with the day-to-day benefits of prenatal exercise, you’re also preparing your body for the big day. The delivery. The miracle of birth. 

Considering you’re in the middle of the most impressive physical undertaking anyone could ever attempt to do, your endurance, strength, and flexibility will only help your body perform this unbelievable feat. 

Exercise during pregnancy can help prevent gestational diabetes, hypertension, and preeclampsia while increasing the chance of babies with healthy birth weight.

How Often Should You Exercise While Pregnant?

Before you begin exercising during your pregnancy, consult your doctor. 

Chances are they will totally recommend it and give you the green light for a fun pregnancy workout. They may even have some recommendations for exercising that would be good for you based on your condition, the symptoms you’re experiencing, and your general fitness level.

However, doctors might tell mamas-to-be with anemia, a weak cervix, or a low-lying placenta to avoid exercise.

For most pregnant women, exercising for 30 mins a day is recommended. That may seem like a lot, especially if you don’t have a regular workout routine, but no worries!

You can pace yourself and go for as long or short as you need. Start with just ten minutes a few days of the week. Then, increase as your build strength, muscle tone, and endurance. 

What Type of Exercises Should You Do During Pregnancy?

If you exercise regularly, this might be a quick adjustment to your routine before continuing the fitness grind. If you don’t normally participate in regular physical activity, it might be a more significant adjustment. But anyone can start a healthy and beneficial prenatal exercise routine, regardless of experience or fitness level.

Here are a few activities you might try (upon clearance from your healthcare provider): 

Walking While Pregnant

It’s easy, it’s free, and it’s fun. Not to mention it’s great for your cardiovascular health, and you can usually find someone to enjoy a walk with you. 

Go ahead, look at the weather forecast, pick the next sunny day, and invite someone for a walk you’ve been meaning to catch up with. 

Pilates and Yoga

Low-impact practices like pilates and yoga offer incredible physical and mental health benefits. Calming exercises are wonderful for lowering heart rates, a gentle warm-up, or soothing backaches. 

Since your center of gravity has changed a little bit, be wary of your risk of falling. Try out a class specifically for pregnant women for specific guidance! You can even bring your baby to Mommy and Me yoga classes in your postpartum period. 

Swimming While Pregnant

Swimming is a popular cardio activity for pregnant women because it is extremely low impact. Your baby is already floating around inside your belly, so they’ll be right at home when you jump in the water with them. Float on your back, connect with your body and life dwelling within.

Grab a kickboard, your favorite maternity swimsuit, and get a few laps in.

You might also be able to find a water aerobics class that’s suitable for you. Check your local health clubs; they might even have a session specifically for pregnant mothers. 

Golf While Pregnant

It makes for a long time outside, but you can take breaks on a cushy, shaded seat if you get a cart. You’ll also enjoy the beautiful outdoors and have plenty of time and space to yourself or spend with a partner or golf buddy. 

You’ll get plenty of steps in and maybe the satisfaction of a sunken putt. Plus, there’s a cart that drives around with snacks and cold drinks. It makes for a nice day, even if you’re not necessarily a golfer. 

Physical Activity To Avoid During Pregnancy

Of course, there are some forms of exercise that you want to avoid during pregnancy. It’s probably not the time to join a softball team for the first time since high school. You don’t want to get in the ring for any MMA or kickboxing either. All contact sports are best to approach with much caution, if at all.

You also want to be careful about doing activities where you could sustain a fall. Downhill skiing should probably wait until next year. Roller derby needs to be put on hold, and you’re much better off watching soccer from the sideline (or the couch) than from the middle of the action. 

Yes, to yoga for pregnancy, but no to hot yoga during the prenatal stage. Riding a golf cart? Yes. Horseback riding? No. 

Tips For Exercising During Pregnancy

It may take some getting used to, but with all that your body is accomplishing, a little exercise routine is nothing you can’t handle. Here are some tips to help you enjoy prenatal exercise and make decisions to find a routine that works well for you. 

Monitor Your Body

You’re already doing this during pregnancy on a regular basis. Check-in with yourself. Find a moment to quiet your thoughts and center your being: Ask yourself: how am I feeling today? Where am I feeling any discomfort? How is my energy and mood? 

Take some brief notes about how you are feeling throughout your exercise. Jot down the exercise you engaged in, and reflect on how your body responds. 

Look back on these notes as you continue to exercise to find patterns that may help you refine your prenatal exercise routine. 

Recover Well

Recovery is vital. When you push your body, and your muscles and organs endure a healthy strain, your recovery process helps them bounce back even stronger. 

Try a mineral-rich bath soak. Not only will it melt aware soreness, but it sends stress packing as well! Keep the water cool; hot water will have to wait. 

Belly Oil will soothe your skin and give that pregnancy glow meets post-exercise high. See if a massage therapist or someone you love will apply it for you with a gentle prenatal massage.

Healthy Pregnancy and Happy Mommies

The benefits of prenatal exercise are numerous. Keep in touch with your doctor with updates about how your prenatal exercise routine is going and how your body responds to the activity. Before you know it, you’ll love your new fit-preg routine. 

Make sure to hydrate all the time: before, during, and after exercise. Pick up a pair of maternity leggings, sporty Compression Socks, and ride your exercise routine all the way to the delivery date.