Does pregnancy boost athletic performance?

It may not come as a surprise that many women athletes report continuing their careers during the early stages of their pregnancy. What may be surprising, however, is that many of these women report an added "pregnancy boost" during this delicate time.

Consider the case of Alex Allred, the 1994 United States National Bobsledding Champion who went on to become a member of the U.S. Olympic team. Her top competitor, who came in second place, was also three months pregnant, reported Competitor.

So far, there have been no studies published about this mysterious trend, however, some doctors say they are familiar with this mysterious occurrence.

"Women have told me they performed better after pregnancy," Jim Pivarnik, the director of the Human Energy Research Lab and the Center for Physical Activity and Health at Michigan State University, told the website.

Women athletes are familiar with what's often called the "pregnancy boost." In addition to having that little extra bounce during the pregnancy itself, even more women report feeling stronger and performing better after the birth itself.

"[They're] actually able to maintain physiological effects for up to a year," said Dr. Karen Nordahl, an OB-GYN at BC Women's Hospital in Vancouver and the author of "Fit to Deliver."

Though there have been no scientific studies, there are a number of theories as to why this may happen. Some doctors have hypothesized that the act of giving birth itself makes women not only physically stronger, but also mentally stronger, granting them that competitive edge.

You don't have to be an athlete to get the 'pregnancy boost'
Apart from professional athletes, many moms-to-be maintain their workout regimens well into pregnancy. While most doctors recommend exercise, they caution that women should take care not to overdo it. Women who aren't accustomed to regular physical exercise should start small and not push themselves too far. Women who have established routines may find they need to make some modifications.

According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise during pregnancy can help relieve aches and pains associated with pregnancy as well as help pregnant women feel more positively about their physical and mental health. It can also help keep women strong for the delivery.

Do you believe in the "pregnancy boost?" Let us know in the comments section!