Exercising While Pregnant

By Tasha Lawton

To drag your body up to do anything when you're pregnant is hard enough, but to be motivated to exercise -- get outta here! Pregnancy is a time for sitting comfortably on the sofa with your feet firmly OFF the ground and your hand firmly IN a bag of chocolates...is it not? Well, I'm here to try and convince you otherwise.

I'm happy to share with you that nowadays, it's widely accepted and documented in the media and more importantly by midwives and GPs that embarking in exercise while you're pregnant is more than just a good idea. It's a way to keep body and mind focused on the job in hand -- first class baby baking.

The signals that are sent out to your baby while you're exercising are those of calm and exuberance. Stress hormones (or cortisol levels if we're being technical) are heightened during pregnancy and as soon as you do any form of exercise, they get canceled out with happy hormones that can only be a good thing.

Not only does exercise make you feel better emotionally, it also helps reduce the likelihood of injuries or those common complaints we all read about like back ache, water retention, sciatica (pains down the sides of your legs), difficulty sleeping, losing balance, weight gain... Should I go on?

The first myth to expel is that exercising whilst pregnant puts you or your baby at risk. Rubbish! Providing, of course, that you aren't jumping out of planes or climbing bare rock faces unaided, it's perfectly ok to start a new form of exercise and most people opt for Pilates or yoga, swimming and walking. Something more gentle than running or spin but still extremely effective.

Now onto the good stuff, the positive reasons why you should consider exercising throughout your pregnancy:

  • During labor you can concentrate on enjoying the process in the knowledge that your body isn't going to give up on you
  • Your body’s going to bounce back a lot more quickly after all the fun's over with
  • You won't feel or look like a beached whale 24/7
  • Varicose veins will be kept at bay
  • Back ache will not raise its ugly head
  • Fat ankles will be something you associate "other" people with.

All in all, whether you like it or not, all the signs have got to be pointing towards that "evil" word ... EXERCISE.

I know what you're thinking. "But when am I supposed to find time to fit exercise into my day when I'm at work for 10 hours, asleep for 8 -- I need to eat, wind down and relax." By my calculations, that still leaves you with at least an hour when you've done all those other things, at least three times a week to do some exercise.

I promise you (and I don't promise things lightly, let me tell you!). I promise you, that your body, your pregnancy, your labor and your mind will all thank you for it in the long run. If you think you have no time before the baby arrives, boy are you in for a shock when it does finally grace you with its presence!

Pilates' TVs' pregnancy expert Tasha Lawton created the "Pregalates" series, a set of world first trimester specific Pilates for Pregnancy workouts. The DVDs are available online at Pregalates.com.

Copyright © Tasha Lawton. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC.