"I ain't worried doing me tonight.
A little sweat ain't never hurt nobody.
Don't just stand there on the wall,
everybody just move your body."
-Beyonce, Move Your Body
I love working out. It’s the number one thing I missed most post foot surgery, and one of the reasons I was determined to modify things to somehow work it in. I wanted to move my body. Moving my body helps me stay healthy, and happy. It helps me process my thoughts, and it’s my therapy.
Thankfully, after twelve long weeks, I can finally try to start running next week. Yes, I said “thankfully.” And I'll add a "praise Jesus and Amen."
I know. I know. I would’ve been annoyed by me and that statement years ago, too. But, you guys, there’s something special that comes from pushing yourself. Not just the endorphins, but a sense of pride in my accomplishment. I’ve had to change my goals and my views of accomplishment from time to time, like after foot surgery, but it’s always there, no matter how big or small. And,y'all, it’s such a gift.
So, taking that knowledge about me, it’s really no surprise that I am firm believer in staying active during your pregnancy if possible. It isn’t just about the endorphins, or a sense of accomplishment, or even the therapy. There’s so much more. But, more on that in a bit.
For a while, pregnant women were told that exercise can lead to pre-term labor. A lot of women were even told to stop working out all together, not based on their personal circumstances, across the board. You certainly weren’t supposed to add anything new. So, sucks to be you if you didn't think to start working out BEFORE you got pregnant, because you certainly can’t start now.
The good news is, we know better now. This systematic review says, “Aerobic exercise for 35-90 minutes 3-4 times per week during pregnancy can be safely performed by normal-weight women with singleton, uncomplicated gestations because this is not associated with an increased risk of preterm birth or with a reduction in mean gestational age at delivery”.
There’s been more time to study exercise and pregnancy and what we know now is that exercising is not just ok, it’s good for you. You can even start during pregnancy. (ACOG recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic workout. If you are just starting, they recommend starting with 5 minutes a day, then increasing that by 5 minutes every week, until you can stay active up to 30 minutes a day.)
Here’s why it is beneficial, (check out this list according to ACOG):
Mayo clinic also adds:
These are all good reasons to move your booty. Bu, y’all, let’s just stop here and talk for a hot second about that underlined, italic’d, bolded one there. May reduce risk of cesarean delivery. (Reducing the risk of cesarean is a big deal in my world, I don’t know about yours. Well, maybe I do. I’m guessing it’s a big deal in yours, too.) In this study they found “Women in exercise groups had a significantly lower risk of cesarean delivery.” Significantly.
That right there is enough for me to sign up for a gym membership, or even just stick in my sweatin’ to the oldies VHS if I was pregnant.
Does it shorten labor? Well, some studies say it does. It would make sense. If we’ve prepped our body to do something physically hard it would be easier and faster than if we went into that hard work without training. Using a marathon for analogy, you could probably walk a marathon with little to no training, but you’d probably be a lot faster if you ran and prepared and trained beforehand.
I have anecdotal stories, too. Personally, my fastest labor was with the child I stayed active furthest into the pregnancy. I've also seen similar labors while observing my clients. I can’t tell you how many of my active clients pop those babies out like it’s hot. (Of course, I can’t promise you the same results. If only, right??)
What’s your experience been with staying active during pregnancy? Did you find it helpful? What types of activity did you do? Let me know in the comments. Just for fun, check out Move Your Body by Beyonce down below.
sources to check out:
****Disclaimer*** I’m not a doctor. I am not giving you medical advice. You make your own decisions. Always ask your doctor before starting an exercise program, etc. There are reasons and indications to not exercise during pregnancy. Check out ACOG’s list for those here.
Tracy Abney is a certified birth and bereavement doula serving Huntsville, Madison and other parts of north Alabama.