As a childbirth educator and doula, I have always maintained a holistic mind frame of the human body and its functions. When I am teaching a childbirth education class or attending a birth as a doula, I am always amazed at how every function of our bodies has a purpose. During my classes, I work hard to convey how body and mind work together in both pregnancy and birth. Maintenance and preparation for this dual relationship between mind and body is just as vital.
How does exercise and fitness play a role in a healthy pregnancy?
Logically we know that exercise helps build muscle and maintain muscle tone. In pregnancy, our body is working hard to grow a healthy baby. Exercise is part of the healthy patterns mothers and fathers can start for their baby’s life. When we exercise during pregnancy, we develop body awareness and maintain our body’s dopamine and oxytocin release (the feel good hormones that also regulate some pregnancy-related functions). Exercise in pregnancy also can decrease labor by two hours, as well as help with a better recovery postpartum. Research shows that even daily walks and light exercise can maintain a sense of wellbeing and happiness. When a parent maintains, even a low amount of exercise, he/she copes better with stress and improves his/her immune system.
What types of exercise is healthiest during pregnancy?
After checking with your obstetrician or midwife, you can keep any routine you have already established. You may consider the need to pace yourself. Exercise should leave you feeling much better then when you started, albeit maybe a bit tired. You do not want to overwork so you are out of breath or so sore that you are miserable. Light exercise like going for a long walk or using yoga stretches is sufficient, and it is perfectly okay to advance to more rigorous routines when and if you feel up to advancing. After delivery, you will again want to check back in with your provider before starting any exercise routine postpartum.
Happily, Lovelace Labor of Love is resuming our perinatal fitness course geared towards effective and best practice exercise routines to help facilitate both a safe and effective fitness level in both the pregnancy and postpartum. Healthy habits during pregnancy also include an appropriate amount of calories to eat, staying hydrated, modifying medications and avoiding anything that will harm the baby.
This blog was submitted by Kristin Dawe, childbirth educator and doula. Please contact Lovelace Care Concierge for an appointment with a midwife or doctor at 505.727.7677 or contact Lovelace Labor of Love for details about our perinatal fitness class and more community resources at 505.727.7677.