As hard as it may be in a world full of lockdowns and restrictions, it's important for pregnant women to continue to exercise, especially when they're in isolation at home. Jacqui Ambrus-Bonazzi explores the reasons why.
With the current lockdowns in Victoria and restrictions in place around the world, many women are feeling isolated. They aren't getting to enjoy the usual experiences a pregnant woman gets to experience like taking support people with them to obstetrician or midwife appointments, meeting new mothers in mothers' groups, showing off their babies once they're born or even having the support from friends and family to help look after their newborn. There are many grandparents who live interstate who are missing out on meeting their grandchildren. For a first-time mother, this can be very overwhelming.
I reached out to our community of mums who continued exercising with us virtually whilst we were under restrictions here in Canberra. I asked them what it meant for them to be able to continue exercising during isolation. Many of the responses included:
"Exercise was so important to help with anxiety – anxiety of being a first-time mum, about having a new baby, about how scary the world is right now."
"For the endorphins to help stay happy and positive."
"To help with the aches and pains associated with pregnancy."
"Having the time out from the chaos of life and having that 1 hour to yourself."
"Prevent complications such as gestational diabetes and high blood pressure. Maintain a healthy and easier pregnancy and aid in faster recovery after birth."
"The social interaction with other mums and mums to be."
Many mums-to-be also found that exercising virtually with other mums help with sharing their fears and anxieties, learning about the changes in their bodies together and not feeling alone.
The importance of exercise during pregnancy
Exercise during pregnancy is so important. It's not only beneficial for mum but baby as well.
Some of the benefits for mum include:
- Improved cardiovascular function
- A lower risk for gestational diabetes
- Improved strength and lean muscle mass
- Improved sense of wellbeing
- Enhanced sleep
- Reductions in bone density loss
- Reductions in physical discomfort
- Cardiovascular function
- Improve self-esteem and reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety
- Can set you up for an easier labour and delivery
Some of the benefits for baby include:
- Less body fat: "Prenatal exercise may reduce the amount of glucose and fats mothers make available to their babies, helping them grow more optimally".
- Better heart health: "In a 2011 study from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Missouri, researchers assessed the heart activity of pregnant mothers and their infants-to-be. They found evidence that aerobic activity affects babies in much the same way that it helps their mums".
- More advanced brains: "A 2013 study published by researchers at the University of Montreal found that babies born to exercising mothers had more mature brain function – more advanced brains – than those born to the less active moms".
It's so easy to just forget about ourselves and worry about everything else going on. But now more than ever we need to make sure that pregnant women are exercising to reduce their stress and anxiety.
So, how do we do this? Many of the Body Beyond Baby affiliate team
have shifted and adapted to running their classes virtually. This is an awesome way for pregnant women to continue exercising and to connect with other new or expectant mums.
Jacqui runs Canberra Fitness Centre in Mitchell in the ACT. To find out more about her and get in touch, click here.
You can also find her on Instagram.