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Benefits of exercise for the pre & post-natal woman

Posted by Bulk Nutrients in Pregnancy / Breast Feeding

Estimated reading time: 4mins

Benefits of exercise for the pre & post-natal woman

There are many benefits of regular exercise throughout pregnancy:

  • For the mother:
    • Reduced weight gain
    • Deposition and retention of less body fat
    • Better body image
    • Remain within normal weight range
    • Lower incidents of discomforts and injuries during pregnancy
    • More rapid physical and emotional recovery post-birth
    • Shorter and less complicated labour
    • Increased breathing efficiency
    • Higher energy levels
    • Decrease the risk of developing gestational diabetes
    • Increase muscle strength & improves posture
    • Circulation benefits with improved digestion
  • For the baby:
    • Babies are tougher and less vulnerable to usual stresses
    • Lighter and leaner than non exercising mothers
    • Lower incidents of obstetrical concern before labour
    • Respond rapidly to their environment after birth
    • Show lower risks of premature death, heart disease and serious illness

stretching-pregnancy

Things to keep in mind while exercising

When exercising during pregnancy there is a range of essential modifications you should consider:

  • Cardiovascular
    • Should never be short of breath
    • Longer, slower warn up and cool down periods
    • Posture is paramount
    • Maintain adequate hydration
    • Comfortable environment with cool comfortable clothing
    • Recommended at least three to four times per week
  • Muscle Conditioning & Toning
    • Core stability and bracing should be focused on
    • Focus on controlled breathing
    • Movements should be slow and controlled with proper technique
    • Use fit ball as much as possible
    • Stretch and recover between each set
    • Squat no lower than 90 degrees
    • Pelvic floor work is very important
  • Stretching
    • Stretch with long holds, slowly and gradually
    • No bouncing at the end of stretch
    • Change positions slowly
    • Never overstretch loose joints
    • Breath slowly and steadily
    • Include neck and back stretches
    • Avoid asymmetrical stretches where weight is concentrated heavily through one limb

Woman-lunge-fitness

Recovery is key!

For the post-natal mothers a gradual recovery is essential for a smooth transition to motherhood, with the focus on wellbeing rather than increase aerobic fitness and weight loss. Keep in mind it may take up to 9 months for the stretched muscles to return to shape. Furthermore lactation requires adequate rest and good nourishment.

The benefits of postnatal exercise are significant and it is important to establish a regular exercise routine of some sort as soon as they feel ready physically and mentally.

Benefits of postnatal exercise include:

  • Speedier healing and recovery from the birthing process
  • Increased energy to cope with the demands of new motherhood
  • Reduced stress and depression, with a heightened sense of wellbeing
  • Faster return to pre-pregnancy shape and level of fitness

In saying this there is a range of other considerations that should be addressed when determining the right time to return to a regular exercise routine. Everybody is unique and ensuring you have adequate medical support and guidance ahead of starting your exercise routine following pregnancy is essential.

Woman-fitball-balance-pink

Closing thoughts

Some considerations ahead of embarking on your post pregnancy exercise routine include:

  • The type of birth – whether you had any complications, procedures or caesarean
  • Hormonal issues including post-natal depression
  • Urinary or faecal incontinence
  • Persistent lower back pain
  • Persistent pelvic instability and pain

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