08 Apr Exercise & Pregnancy: of CORE-se you should!
I recently read an article about exercise and pregnancy. It caught my attention because it was headlining that mothers should wait SIX MONTHS before doing strenuous exercise after child birth. Now, that’s actually outrageous! And right in the middle of physical inactivity and health epidemic no less!
Why are we being told not to exercise?
Sure, issues can arise from high impact exercise done too soon after birth. Activities like running can play three times your body weight on your pelvic floor, which is in a vulnerable state after childbirth. If you don’t rehabilitated your pelvic floor correctly (just like any tissue damage), it can lead to a prolapse of the vagina, bladder and/or bowel.
But the solution isn’t to avoid exercise. The solution is awareness. We need to help women understand how to exercise right after childbirth!
The exercise should change as you change, not stop!
Our bodies don’t spring back from carrying a small human overnight. Our capacity to lift, contract, bend, stretch and even brace, will not be the same as it was before pregnancy. Hitting that pump class at the gym or boot-camp on Saturday morning probably isn’t a wise idea. Your body needs time to rehabilitate the muscles, tendons and ligaments that have all stretched to carry your little one.
Everyone’s bodies will go through a different pregnancy journey, and will require different physical care. Exercise needs to be modified and adapted as your body changes, and it’s hard to know how to do that on your own. It’s always a good idea to consult your doctor and when possible work with a clinically trained exercise professional.
Education of the effects, benefits and risks of exercise at all stages of pregnancy needs to be improved! Hopefully, movement can be endorsed and embraced by new mums, with the emphasis on safety and individualisation.
What you need to know about exercising while pregnant…
There’s lot of positive evidence that supports doing exercise throughout and after your pregnancy.
Let’s see what the science says…
If you’re active before you fall pregnant, it’s safe to stay active during your pregnancy. Engaging in light resistance training and aerobic exercise in the second and third trimester showed no negative effects on the risk of pre-term labour, mode of delivery, gestational age or newborn health.
In fact, exercising during pregnancy has some positive effects, including:
- reducing prevalence of hypertensive and gestational diabetes
- helped control excess weight gain throughout pregnancy
- exercising has been associated with shorter first stage of labour
- exercise significantly reduces pre- and post-natal depressive symptoms
What’s the next step?
Closer collaboration desperately needs to happen between healthcare professionals such as GPs, nurses, obstetricians, physios, exercise physiologists and fitness professionals. We need to encourage, empower and educate women who are trying to get pregnant, are pregnant or are recovering from pregnancy to exercise. But to exercise right!
Every pregnancy is different. It’s important to seek advice from your doctor and to train with an appropriately qualified exercise professional, such as an exercise physiologist. Ask your health professional about how you can safely make exercise work for you.
Jacinta Brinsley is an Accredited Exercise Physiologist at iNform Health and Fitness Solutions, and is currently completing a PHD on Mental Health.