When a photo of a heavily pregnant woman named Lea-Ann Ellison lifting 35kg weights was posted on the Internet last September, it sparked a gush of vitriol especially within the mummy community. Many claimed that pregnant women should refrain from doing any form of strenuous physical activity as it would endanger the life of their unborn child. Ellison, however, stuck to her guns. “It’s completely acceptable and healthy for the baby if you keep doing what your body is used to,” the former bodybuilder was quoted as saying. She is now the mother of a healthy baby boy.
So, does that mean it’s perfectly okay to exercise when you are pregnant and that you can brush aside any other concerns?
The general recommendation of exercising 2.5 hours a week is applicable to those who are pregnant as well, so the question isn’t so much about whether or not it’s okay for pregnant ladies to do so, but rather how long and how hard they should be exercising. Many doctors interviewed during the controversy leaned towards Ellison’s personal choice but cautioned expectant mums against pushing their physical limits. Several factors come into play, including age, overall health, and pre-pregnant fitness level. Of course, lifting heavy weights wouldn’t be encouraged for most pregnant women, but Ellison’s case is an exception as she had been actively engaged in high intensity workouts even before her pregnancy.
Before you embark on any exercise programme, the rule of thumb is to check in with your doctor so he or she can advise on the type of exercises you can do. Not surprisingly, exercising during your pregnancy brings with it a whole host of benefits for you and your baby. Here are some of them:
- Eases labour and delivery
Regular exercise helps you maintain your endurance level, which greatly helps you manage the pains of delivery.
- Elevates your mood
Exercising prompts the release of the feel-good hormone endorphins, which translates to a happier you.
- Reduces physical discomforts of pregnancy
Exercises such as Pilates help strengthen your core and correct your posture, thus providing back pain relief – a common grievance among expectant mums.
- Helps you return to your pre-pregnancy body quicker
By maintaining your fitness level during your pregnancy, it’s easier and quicker for you to regain your pre-pregnancy figure.