There are a lot of misconceptions out there about exercising while you are pregnant. You’ll even hear differing opinions from your
doctors. When we decided to start our family, I wanted to know everything I could about pregnancy and exercise. I am, what some might call, an exercise addict! It’s my hobby and I love both teaching and participating in exercise classes. I wanted to know if I needed to give these things up while I was pregnant. Luckily, the answer was no!
Unless you have complications and your doctor recommends avoiding exercise during your pregnancy, exercise is not only safe, but very beneficial for you and your baby! I received a thorough training on pre-natal exercise through my Stroller Strides certification and I also read a fascinating book on the topic called Exercising Through Your Pregnancy by Dr. James F. Clapp III. MD. Don’t let the lady in the 80s outfit on the cover deter you, the content is fabulous! One of the things I loved about the book is that everything is research based. He is not just coming up with these conclusions on his own, they are based on case studies with pregnant women of all ages and fitness levels. Dr. Clapp tackles many of the common myths about exercise and pregnancy and presents a VERY compelling case for staying active while you are pregnant. Are you ready for some MythBusters?
Myth: Exercise early in pregnancy can cause miscarriages.
Truth: Exercise early in pregnancy does not cause miscarriages, but can actually help you deal better with the early pregnancy symptoms such as nausea, fatigue, and dizziness.
Although some women are too sick during their first trimester to exercise, if you do exercise, don’t worry! Exercise does not cause miscarriages or other congenital defects. In fact, it helps you feel better. Early in your pregnancy, your body releases hormones that cause the muscle cells in a woman’s blood vessels to relax. This eventually allows for the increased blood volume that is required during pregnancy to provide for the baby’s needs. But at first, there is not enough blood in circulation causing symptoms of vascular underfill, such as fatigue, nausea, and dizziness. Interestingly, exercise causes changes to the vascular system that are complimentary to pregnancy, such as an increase in the volume of blood in circulation, an increase in the volume of blood pumped each beat, and a more efficient delivery of oxygen. Thus, by being active before pregnancy and during early pregnancy, you are helping your body adapt by helping increase blood volume to relieve symptoms of underfill.
Myth: Exercise causes a pregnant woman to become too hot, which causes the baby to get too hot.
Truth: Pregnant women who exercise actually get rid of heat more effectively than pregnant women who do not exercise.
Regular exercise improves a woman’s ability to get rid of excess heat by initiating dilation of the blood vessels in the skin and sweating at a lower temperature. So when an active woman gets pregnant, she is already more effective at getting rid of heat and the adaptations to pregnancy that allow women to deal with heat better just improve her capacity to deal with heat stress.
Myth: Exercise late in pregnancy will cause pre-term labor
Truth: Exercise late in pregnancy actually decreases the chances of pre-term labor, and leads to shorter and less complicated labor.
If you feel well during your pregnancy, it’s in your best interest to continue exercising! There is no reason to stop exercising as your due date approaches. Exercise will not cause preterm labor, but it can help the baby arrive on time. When you get near your due date, research shows that women who exercise will deliver 5-7 days earlier than women who do not exercise. Really, who wants to be sitting around post 40 weeks waiting for their baby to come? Plus, when you go into labor, regular exercise shortens labor by about a third! Now that’s motivation!
I could go on and on about the benefits of staying active for both you and your baby! Truly it is amazing all the ways that it helps. I am now 35 weeks along and though my pace has slowed some, I am still running and exercising several times a week. I really believe that one of the reasons I have felt so good during my pregnancy is because I’ve stayed active! I haven’t had many of the negative side effects and aches and pains that plague so many pregnant women. Plus I know that I will bounce back quicker after having the baby because I’ve stayed strong. If you are pregnant, check out the prenatal videos in the Tailored Fitness program. They are designed specifically for pregnant women! I hope to film a few more before I deliver!