There has been lots of buzz in the media about the new study that showed that women who exercised moderately for at least 30 minutes 3 times per week produced babies with heightened brain activity.*
This news adds to a growing list of why mothers should stay fit, active and healthy during their pregnancies.
Here is the list that helps me lace up my running shoes and get my giant tummy out the door.
1. I’m happier and less stressed. To date, there hasn’t been enough research in this area, but it is clear that maternal stress is linked to preterm labour and low birth weight babies. It has also been shown that babies of stressed mothers are more likely to have depression and irritability. Sounds like me when I don’t get a workout in.**
2. Babies born to exercising moms are generally leaner. Dr Clapp noted that babies had less adipose tissue but scored equally well on the measurements where it mattered (like head circumference and limb length). These were not low birth weight babies, they were just leaner. With obesity on the rise, and some evidence that fat cells develop and stay with you forever, this could be the biggest plus.***
3. I’m far less likely to develop gestational diabetes. Thus, my baby is far less likely to develop macrosomia (giant baby syndrome) and the accompanying medical problems post-natally. This isn’t as big an issue in the first world, since we are lucky to be able to c-section them out. However, gestational diabetes is also on the rise in third world countries (where sedentary lifestyles and processed food is spreading) with poor access to doctors, which means that the lives of both mother and child are in jeopardy. Plus there are definite draw backs to c-sections even here.
4. My baby works-out. Therefore, when it comes to labour and delivery time, she’ll be fightin’ ready. It’s not only me who benefits from a rise in heart rate when I exercise. And I am hoping this daily strengthening will help better prepare her for the most stressful day of her young life. There have even been studies showing babies develop stronger hearts and are more athletic later in life.
5. I will be a better mom. You may be an awesome mom if you don’t exercise and it’s never a competition. But wouldn’t you always be a better mom if you were in shape? Who doesn’t want to carry their newborns everywhere, play chase with their toddlers or hike with their kids? Pregnancy is just the start of mentoring a life long love of activity. We need it now more than ever.
Of course, there will always be very legitimate reasons why some women should not be active during their pregnancy. That is something every woman should discuss with their doctor. But if you are a healthy woman carrying a healthy baby, there are plenty of good reasons to do it!
This is going to be part of a series for pregnant mothers who want to stay fit so subscribe if you’d like to follow it and feel free to share on social media on the buttons below.
** Exercising through your pregnancy, Dr. James Clapp