I hear it all the time. “I am not going to exercise because it will hurt my baby.” In this issue of Top 5 Pregnancy Exercise Myths, I am going to discuss how, in most circumstances, this is far from the truth.
As I mentioned in article one, people used to think that women exercising in general was bad for them. They thought it would make their uterus fall out. There is no wonder that people would think exercising while pregnant would hard the fetus. However, many recent studies have shown just the opposite.
In a recent study conducted at the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, women who exercised and who did not exercise were monitored and their fetal heart rates were evaluated at 24, 32, and 36 weeks gestation. Those mothers who exercised had babies with lower heart rates and more variability in their heart rates. This is a sign of a healthy heart. If you think about an adult, the same is true. The lower the resting heart rate in an adult, the fitter the individual is. And, the more variability means that individual is probably moving more than his/her counterparts. This typically signifies a healthier person. Exercising while pregnant sets the baby up for a healthy heart before he/she is even born!
Many other studies have shown that women who exercise have babies who stay thinner in their futures. There are a lot of possibilities for this, but the heart health above could be one explanation. Another explanation is that the mother has set a good example, even in utero, and could continue to do so.
Babies who are born to women who exercise are also born smaller than babies born to non- exercising mothers. Now, having an underweight baby is not healthy, but these babies are still healthy weight, albeit just typically smaller than non-exercising babies. Further, babies whose mothers exercise are also born with slightly smaller head circumferences. Anyone who has had or is anticipating a vaginally delivery can surely appreciate that!
Another benefit to the baby of his/her mom exercising is that the child’s athletic potential increases. Of course, that could be a coincidence or it could be a reflection of the things that parents value (fitness, exercise and sports) but getting an athletic scholarship to college wouldn’t be horrible, would it?
Lastly, brain activity increases in babies whose mothers exercise. This increases cognitive development and there are fewer development delays in babies whose mothers have exercised while pregnant.
Sounds like pretty compelling reasons to exercise, huh? Next article will address benefits to the mom while exercising during pregnancy and you will not want to miss it. As always, like anything related to pregnancy, you want to make sure you get your doctor’s approval before beginning an exercise program. However, if he/she discourages you, I would make sure you ask why and make sure the reason he/she is not allowing exercise is for one of the contraindicated reasons:
· Pregnancy induced hypertension (high blood pressure)
· Pre-term rupture of membranes
· Pre-term labor during the prior or current pregnancy
· Incompetent or cerclage placement
· Persistent second or third trimester bleeding
· Placenta previa
· Intrauterine growth retardation
If you find you have any of the following, you definitely need to be discuss exercise with your doctor before beginning a new exercise program:
· Chronic hypertension
· Thyroid function abnormality
· Cardiac disease
· Vascular disease
· Pulmonary disease
Once you begin an exercise program, things should go very well, but be aware if the following situations occur and report them immediately to your doctor:
· Abdominal pain
· Vaginal bleeding
· Rapid heartbeat
· Muscle weakness
· Shortness of breath
· Decreased fetal movement