Hi there! My name is Dr. Lauren Rabidoux PT, DPT. I am currently 9 months pregnant. Throughout my pregnancy journey I have been fortunate enough to experience and work through some of the common misconceptions about pregnancy and exercise.
Many women are scared out of exercise (usually unintentionally) by their healthcare providers. Even I was told at my first OB appointment to avoid lunges and lifting anything over 25lbs. Why? Well- because you’re pregnant. Thankfully, as a doctor of physical therapy, I knew this was not sound advice, however, for a first-time mom or someone who genuinely does not know, I can totally see how this would discourage them from feeling confident about exercising while pregnant! Here are just a few of the benefits of working out while pregnant!
Improved Health of Baby
First and foremost, exercise is absolutely safe AND recommended during pregnancy! Your body needs movement more than ever during this amazing time in your life. The physiological effects of exercise including increased heart rate, breathing rate, and increased blood flow to working muscles, emulate the same physiological effects that occur during labor. Studies have shown that babies of mothers who exercised regularly during pregnancy are less likely to become distressed during labor because they are already accustomed to these physiological changes. They also reap the same rewards that mom does including leaner body mass, better heart health, and more mature brain function! (P.S. Moms- you will also lower your chance of gestational diabetes and overall weight gain- a win win!)
Strengthen Supporting Muscles Used During Labor
Many pregnant moms are advised to avoid weight training due to their joints increasing in laxity as their body prepares for labor. Oh contraire! As the joints loosen in preparation for labor, this can cause pain and increased stress, especially in the low back and SI joints. What is the best way to combat this? You guessed it, weight training! This will strengthen the supporting muscles around your joints, decrease pain, and even help with postpartum recovery.
Consistent Exercise Routines
Lastly, many expecting mothers are often told not to try anything new in terms of exercise when it comes to their pregnancy. Take this with a grain of salt. Trying Olympic weightlifting for the first time may not be advisable, however, weighted squats, rows, bicep curls, lunges, resistance bands, etc. can be beneficial. Light to moderate strength training is a great way to tone up the pelvic floor, core, and whole body for labor. Don’t be afraid to implement this throughout your pregnancy journey. Exercise and pregnancy are a match made in heaven. Your body and your baby will thank you for keeping it healthy and strong during this amazing time in your life. If you are unsure as to what type of exercises will be most beneficial don’t hesitate to reach out to your local physical therapist for detailed guidance.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Lauren Rabidoux is a PT, DPT from Grand Blanc, MI where she works at Primary Prevention Physiotherapy. Lauren is currently pregnant with her first child and enjoys working out at her local CrossFit gym.