Sunday, April 22

To Be Fit In Pregnancy

Improved circulation

You and your baby are linked by the placenta, so anything that affects your circulation will also affect your baby's. Good circulation supplies the baby with more oxygen and nutrients.

Good circulation also helps to reduce the incidence of piles, varicose veins, swelling, cramps and constipation in you. In fact, exercise is a great way to beat many of the minor complications of pregnancy.

Improved posture

The weight of the baby alters your centre of gravity. This, combined with the softening effects of the hormone relaxin on your ligaments, can lead to bad posture and backache.

Strengthening your abdominal and back muscles will improve posture and your chances of avoiding backache.

Better state of mind

Exercise releases feel-good endorphins into your system. Add to this the physical benefits - better body shape and definition, better complexion - of regular activity and you'll certainly feel stronger, happier and more positive about being pregnant.

Lower risk of miscarriage

Keeping active can also reduce your risk of miscarriage by 40 per cent, according to researchers at New York's Columbia University. This doesn't mean you have to be a slave to the gym. The researchers found that being active could include doing housework, walking or chasing around after young children.

However, if you've had more than one miscarriage in the past, you should contact your GP before embarking on any exercise programme during pregnancy.

Controlled blood pressure

Moderate exercise, such as walking or cycling, can help to prevent pregnancy-related high blood pressure, according to an American study. Researchers looked at 16 women with a personal or family history of hypertension. At 14 weeks of pregnancy, the women were split into two groups: exercisers and no activity. After ten weeks, the exercisers had a decline in diastolic blood pressure (the minimum arterial pressure, when the ventricles in the heart are relaxed), while the no activity group's pressure went up.

However, if you already have pregnancy-related high blood pressure, you should check with your GP before starting any pregnancy exercise programme.

A better birth

The better your cardiovascular system (your heart and lungs), the more stamina you'll have for huffing and puffing your way through labour. Improved muscular strength will also help you maintain birthing positions such as squatting.

Pregnancy fitness expert Dr James Clapp has found that women who exercise are less likely to have a caesarean or episiotomy, or go into premature labour. Recently, though, he updated his research and found that: "It is the amount of exercise in late pregnancy that helps. It takes a lot to achieve this benefit, about 40 to 60 minutes of moderate intensity, five times a week."

A healthier placenta

Dr Clapp found that when pregnant women exercised, the placenta grew almost a third faster in mid-pregnancy and had about 15 per cent more blood vessels and surface area at full term. This is good news for your baby because the placenta is her substitute lungs, kidneys and liver, and transfers oxygen and nutrients from you.

Your baby will be bigger

Women who exercise three to five times a week have babies that are heavier, longer and have a better overall weight and body fat than those born to mums who don't exercise, according to researchers from the Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology in Cleveland, Ohio. Dr Clapp also found that the offspring of exercising mothers stay leaner at five years of age.

The bigger babies were due to the spurt in placental growth, promoted by exercise. But is bigger better? Apparently so. Another piece of research in the British Medical Journal found that the bigger the baby, the better the future exam results.

You'll give your baby a head-start

Want a happier, more intelligent baby? Exercise might help. A study in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology compared the newborn babies of women who exercised no more than once a week with the infants of mothers who ran, swam, used stair climbers or did aerobics three or more times a week for at least 20 minutes. Five days after the birth, the babies born to active mums were more alert and less fussy, suggesting that their mother's exercise may have given their babies a developmental boost. *


1 comment:

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