As a mother of two children, ages 8 and 20, I am grateful now more than ever for understanding the relationship between staying active during pregnancy and the effects of weight gain and strain after. Now, I have the tools to teach my clients, both from a personal perspective and clinical knowledge.
While every pregnancy is different and there are no hard and fast rules for each woman’s body, it is safe to say, in today’s health and fitness world, working out and pregnancy go hand in hand.
In my personal experiences, both of my children had their distinct differences. In my 20s, with my first child, I was approximately 120 lbs., just a few years after competing professionally as a US Gymnast. My body was still in top condition. I was running and working out on a regular basis and my body fat was very low. I was blessed; I didn’t carry much water weight. I ate almost anything I liked and pregnancy seemed almost effortless. I didn’t show until almost my 6th month and the only complication I had was a very long 36-hour labor from hell and an emergency C-Section after the long delay of labor.
For my second child in my mid-thirties, things had really changed. I was certainly at least 20-25 lbs. heavier. My lifestyle did not include regular workout. My eating habits were no longer I could eat what I want and not gain a pound. No, these days were long gone and if I even smelled calories, they were sitting like bricks around my new found hips, extra full thighs and these god awful dimples all over my legs I had never seen in my 20s called cellulite! This pregnancy was anything but effortless. Just a few years later, my second child put me on bed rest from the 4th month forward. I had gestational diabetes, hypertension, Pre-eclampsia, preterm labor and a horrible case of nausea. Now, I was visited by a nurse daily and monitored via special equipment for daily stats. I had to inject myself 5-6 times daily to control the gestational diabetes and little man was suffering too. In my 5th month, they projected all the additional sugar was causing excessive weight gain to the fetus and by the time I delivered, I was looking at a 12-15 lb. baby! Yikes! In the end, I could not hold my little boy to term. I delivered 2 months early, with a scheduled C-section and to my worst nightmare he was stillborn and not breathing for 13 minutes before God put the breath of life back in his body.
Could all of this have been caused by poor eating habits, excessive weight gain and inactivity? No one really knows, but I can say by experience, there had to be some correlations.
Exercise during pregnancy can keep weight gain in check, reduce your risk of gestational diabetes, decrease discomfort, and set you up for an easier labor and delivery. Now, new research shows that breaking a sweat, especially after 29 weeks, has big benefits for your baby, too.
In a study of 826 mothers and their babies, researchers found that mamas who exercised in their third trimester gave birth to babies with less body fat, reports the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology. In fact, women who burned the most calories through third-trimester exercise gave birth to babies with 41.1 g less fat mass compared to women who exercised the least.
Getting off the couch for a little exercise can actually make you feel more relaxed. Plus, exercise can help reverse the sag in your energy level that can happen during pregnancy and research shows that moderate exercise throughout those nine months can help you avoid excessive weight gain, lessen your risk for pregnancy complications, may even help you have an easier delivery and of course lose that baby fat faster after delivery.
So while you should always consult with your physician first before continuing or starting a new fitness regimen, the vote is unanimous that Fitness and Pregnancy go great together for the Mommy to Be.