Image Courtesy: Pixabay
Pregnancy can be both an exciting and a potentially worrisome time for many women. Along with the excitements of pregnancy — planning for a child, for one — come aches, pains, and other physical or mental symptoms that can drive some women (so to speak) up the wall.
One of the most common questions that many women have when they become pregnant is: Is it okay if I exercise while I’m pregnant? Should I even be exercising while I’m pregnant?
Benefits of Exercising During Pregnancy
Exercise has many health benefits outside of pregnancy. Exercise helps regulate body weight, build healthy muscles and reduce unhealthy excess body fat, and keep you in better shape which leads to an overall healthier life. The benefits of exercising during pregnancy remain somewhat the same — with a few exceptions. The following are the key benefits that regular exercise can bring to you while you are pregnant:
- A higher level of energy
- Emotional and physical wellness due to released endorphins in the body
- Reduce constipation and encourage regular digestion
- Reduce and relieve backaches and pains by strengthening the muscles of the back, legs, and buttocks
- Help prevent potential wear and tear on your joints, which will become looser during pregnancy
- Help regulate sleep and encourage better, more regular sleep patterns
- Ease the eventual delivery by strengthening your muscles, your heart, and your lungs
- Potentially less excess weight gain during pregnancy
Exercising while you are pregnant can not only make you feel better, but it can even make for an easier and healthier delivery when it is finally time for you to give birth.
Taking a step back: Preconception genetic testing
So we have taken a brief look into pregnancy and exercising. But, one cannot possibly look at another aspect of health and pregnancy which actually precedes pregnancy itself: preconception genetic testing and preconception health evaluations. Many, many couples are now taking advantage of preconception genetic tests from companies such as easyDNA because they want to increase their chances as much as possible of having a healthy baby, free of any genetic defects or illnesses.
These prenatal DNA tests are carried out on the couple wanting to try for a baby. This is all in order to check that they do not carry any genes that could cause disease and that could be transmitted to the child once the woman becomes pregnant. You will both be screening for any potential illnesses – you would want to take advantage of this aspect of prenatal care especially if you know or think there is a hereditary disease (perhaps an autoimmune disease) in the family from either your side or that of your partner. Some diseases are also more common in some ethnic/racial groups.
To take some concrete examples: African Americans have a more than average likelihood of carrying genes for sickle cell anemia (a blood condition in which the physical structure of red blood cells is distorted affecting levels and transport of hemoglobin). Amongst Jewish women, Tay Sachs tends to be more frequent than amongst other ethnic groups (Tay Sachs is a very serious disease that destroys nerve cells).
Other hereditary diseases such as muscular dystrophy might also be tested for by means of DNA testing – all the more if you have had a member of your family member with the hereditary disease. There are several leading laboratories all over the world that offer genetic health testing , giving you insight into your individual disease susceptibility. Such companies include homeDNAdirect and South Africa based easyDNA South Africa.
Is It Safe to Exercise During Pregnancy?
Exercise during pregnancy can bring you benefits—but how much exercise is actually safe for you and your developing child? The answer to this essentially boils down to how much you exercised before you became pregnant. If you exercised regularly before you became pregnant, you can generally continue that regimen without any significant modifications or changes — of course, you should always consult your physician about your exercise program once you discover you are pregnant, in case there are any factors which could lead to potential pregnancy complications. More about pregnancy and how to maximize your well-being in those nine months can be found by visiting this website.
If you did not exercise before your pregnancy, but want to exercise to feel better and have a healthier delivery, you can still begin an exercise regime after you become pregnant. However, you will need to introduce exercise at a more gradual pace to ensure that you are building up your stamina and strength to get through a regular exercise program safely. As always, you should consult your physician about what is safe for your body—a physician may recommend that you build yourself up only to moderately intensive exercise, depending on your pre-pregnancy health and current stamina.
Caution: Exercising during pregnancy may potentially lead to complications if you attempt an exercise which is too vigorous or your body is not used to frequent, intense exercise. You should always contact your physician if you are experiencing early contractions, vaginal bleeding, or premature rupture of your membranes — also known as your ‘water’.