Staying active during pregnancy has numerous benefits to both you and your baby. Plus, it increases your chances for an easier labor, delivery, and recovery.
Prenatal exercise has several physical and emotional benefits for mom— including increased energy, reduced complications and pains, easier labor and recovery, and an elevated mood. A University of Montreal study found that following an exercise routine during pregnancy can also have a positive effect on baby.
The study followed two groups of women during their pregnancy. The first group participated in 20 minutes of moderate exercise at least 3 days a week. The second group of women did not exercise. After the births, researchers measured brain activity and electrical responses of the babies through a soft electrode cap.
They found that in the infants of active mothers, brain activity was associated with what would be expected of a more mature brain, and their responses indicated that baby’s brain developed more rapidly than that of their sedentary counterparts.
Be sure you have your doctor’s or midwife’s permission to exercise during pregnancy. If you’re not able to stay active for your entire pregnancy, use that as an excuse to rest up before your little one arrives. After your lying-in, with your caregiver’s permission, get moving as soon as possible after delivery.
The best ways to stay active during pregnancy
- Walk for 30-60 minutes 3-6 days a week. The treadmill, elliptical, and stationary bike are good cardio options too.
- Strength train 2-4 days a week, try prenatal pilates and yoga.
- Practice your kegels all the time.
- Avoid crunches after your belly starts to pop to decrease chances of abdominal separation.
- Think about “hugging your baby” gently on a regular basis. This is a great way to continue to strengthen your abs.
- Strong core muscles can help give you the strength you need to push your little one out.
Staying active is only part of the equation to a healthy pregnancy.
Tips for optimal nutrition during pregnancy
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
- Greens not tasting so good anymore? Try adding vinegar with olive oil to replace the dressing.
- Craving salt? Opt for Himalayan salt instead of table salt.
- Give in to small portions of your not-so-healthy cravings so you don’t crash and burn by eating an entire quart of ice cream in one sitting.
- Eat real food. Avoid anything that comes in a box or a can.
- Eat small healthy balanced meals and snacks.
- Proteins: beans, legumes, nuts, eggs, beef, chicken, turkey, pork, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, salmon (limit fish to once a week)
- Fats: avocado, olive oils, coconut oil, real butter, nuts
- Carbohydrates: fruits, vegetables, oats, fortified cereals (with no added sugar)
Combining healthy eating habits with regular exercise habits will leave you feeling amazing.
Extra tips for a healthy pregnancy
- Always eat within 30-60 minutes of exercise, try a banana with 1 tablespoon of non-GMO almond butter.
- Keep a water bottle (like the Karma mermaid stainless steel) with you at all times to stay hydrated.
- Eat a healthy snack 30-60 minutes after exercise. Try two eggs with ½ avocado and a small piece of fruit.
- Everything you eat… your baby eats. So think twice about what you put in your mouth. Remember, you feel better when you eat better.
- Rest as much as you can, don’t push through when you’re tired. Your body and baby need the sleep.
- When you reach mid-pregnancy and your belly is bigger, try rolling to your side and use your arms to help push you up. This will help you stretch your abdominal muscles and will help decrease abdominal separation.