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Exercise in pregnancy: the countless benefits for mother and baby of staying fit during pregnancy

Traditionally, women have received a variety of advice and recommendations about adequate physical activity during pregnancy. Until a few decades ago, and in the absence of scientific studies, the most widespread recommendation was to avoid sports and try to rest during the nine months of pregnancy.

Fortunately, these recommendations have changed, and doctors, gynecologists and midwives insist on the importance of being active throughout pregnancy , as studies have shown that the benefits that exercise brings to both mother and baby are countless.

Benefits for the mother of exercising during pregnancy

Helps combat the typical discomforts of pregnancy

We start with one of the first benefits on the list, and that is that practicing sports helps reduce the typical discomforts suffered in pregnancy , such as heartburn, heavy digestion, constipation, leg cramps or swelling in the feet.

Reduces the chances of complications

According to studies, staying active during pregnancy would also help reduce the possibility of developing a pregnancy complication , such as pre-eclampsia, hypertension or gestational diabetes, by up to 40%.

Improves blood circulation

During pregnancy, the mother’s blood volume increases and this can cause circulatory problems such as edema or fluid retention, and varicose veins in the legs, vulva and anus (hemorrhoids). These common discomforts can be combated with physical exercise, with swimming and walking being the most recommended.

It helps control weight

Doing sports during pregnancy improves physical condition and prevents women from gaining excessively during this stage. Remember that excess weight can lead to complications for both the mother and the baby, as well as at the time of delivery.

In women who are already overweight or obese, physical exercise practiced during pregnancy helps prevent complications, as well as adverse effects on the placenta derived from excess weight.

Strengthens the muscles and reduces back pain

Sport strengthens the muscles and makes you more aware of your body and your sense of balance, which in turn helps to maintain good postural hygiene and avoid low back, back and neck pain.

Strengthens the pelvic floor

During pregnancy, the pelvic floor undergoes a lot of pressure and it is highly advisable to exercise it to arrive in perfect condition at the time of delivery, promote postpartum recovery and prevent future disorders, such as urine leakage. The practice of certain exercises helps to strengthen the muscles in this area.

Better emotional health

Sport releases a greater number of endorphins and increases the production of serotonin (the hormone of happiness ), increasing positive emotions and feelings of well-being. This in turn helps reduce stress and anxiety and prevent depression during pregnancy and after delivery.

Promotes rest and restful sleep

The practice of moderate physical exercise at the end of the day, helps to fall asleep, improves night rest and minimizes the symptoms of restless legs, a very common discomfort in the last stage of pregnancy.

Benefits at the time of delivery

Exercising during pregnancy also favors concentration and breathing, two fundamental exercises to maintain control in the face of childbirth. Likewise, physical exercise has been shown to reduce the rate of cesarean sections, shorten the duration of labor, and help prevent complications.

Benefits for the baby of having your mother exercise during pregnancy

Benefits within the mother’s womb

The aerobic activity carried out by the mother favors her cardiorespiratory system, which in turn translates into a better supply of nutrients and oxygen to the placenta that benefits the baby.

Exercise prevents the baby from being born with too much weight

Physical exercise has been shown to reduce the chances of a baby being born macrosomic, with the risks of being overweight at birth.

Improves brain and neuromotor development of the baby

According to studies, women who exercise during pregnancy have babies with better brain development, better memory, and more ability to learn .

Recently, other research has shown that regular aerobic exercise during pregnancy helps improve motor skills in babies.

Improves baby’s heart health

Research has shown that the exercise that the mother does during pregnancy not only improves the fetal heart rate, but also manages to shape the baby’s heart and transform it into a healthier and more resistant organ , a benefit that also lasts beyond birth.

Improves the quality of breast milk

Recent studies have shown that exercising during pregnancy can help improve the quality of breast milk, increasing its benefits and thus affecting the health of the baby in the short and long term.

Photos | iStock, Pexels

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