So we have all heard that exercise is good for us but do you know just how good it actually is during pregnancy and postpartum?
Well for women who did not exercise before they became pregnant, the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada recommends beginning with 15 minutes of continuous exercise 3 times a week, increasing gradually to 30-minute sessions 4 times a week. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologist recommend moderate-intensity exercise for at least 20–30 minutes per day on most or all days of the week.
Crazy right… for so long there has been a huge myth that you cant exercise whilst pregnant or that if you didn’t exercise before falling then you cant start. This isn’t true but like anything you don’t just go run a 20km marathon you start at the beginning, slowly, with guidance from a qualified pre/post natal fitness instructor and build up your fitness and intensity.
So lets talk the top 5 reasons why you SHOULD be exercising through your pregnancy and continuing postpartum.
- Regular exercise during pregnancy can decrease the risk of pregnancy-related complications such as pregnancy-induced hypertension, pre-eclampsia and may help prevent or treat gestational diabetes. It has also proven to reduce backaches, constipation, bloating, and swelling.
- Exercise throughout pregnancy provides preparation for the physical demands of labour, has been linked to fewer complications in delivery, faster stage 1 labour and seen faster recuperation after labour. It also provides an increased ability to cope with the physical demands of motherhood.
- Exercise specifically around the pelvic floor & core can see prevention and management of urinary incontinence & prolapse which studies show 1 in 3 women currently develop after having a baby.
- Exercise release endorphins (the happy feeling) this then leads to stress relief, improves mood and has been linked to a reduced risk of anxiety and depression in pre/post natal women.
- Lastly exercising promotes muscle tone, strength, and builds endurance
As you can see that’s a pretty amazing list of benefits to exercise both during pregnancy and also postpartum plus it is also recommended by leading world organisations in Obstetrics and Gynecology supported by many studies. It is never to late in your pregnancy to start exercising you just start at the beginning and with the appropriate exercise for you. It is also safe to train right up to delivery based on your personal situation and no complications.
When returning to exercise postpartum there is a waiting period of 6 weeks on a natural delivery and 10-12 weeks with a c-section. During this time light walks are a suitable activity and starting your pelvic floor contraction rehabilitation work. There is no need to rush back during this time, the body has just undergone an amazing process of giving life and it takes some time for the body to return back to a semi normal state. A doctor clearance is also required to return to exercise and you may need to wait longer depending on your birth/labour.
Lastly it is so important to find a qualified and experienced pre/post natal trainer to guide you through this journey. There are a lot of changes that occur within the body during pregnancy that must be accounted for when you exercise and also in the postpartum phase there internal rebuilding and strengthening that is vital to restoring and improving core bodily function. Also seeing a womens health physiotherapist to assess your pelvic floor both during pregnancy and postpartum is a MUST!
Time to get moving mama!
Written By Tara Thompson