Pregnancy: How to Make the Bad Stuff Better

By Kate Horney

I’m 38 weeks pregnant, and I still feel great.  I can’t wait for the arrival of our first son, but I have to tell you- the last 9 months really haven’t been so bad.  Even my WORST pregnancy “symptoms” certainly haven’t lived up to the “Pregnancy Horror Stories” told by many…

I attribute much of my enjoyable pregnancy to the fact that I’ve been able to stay active.  I know that for some pregnant women, exercise isn’t an option… But for the mommas who DO have the ability to keep moving, it’s a gift.

Whether or not you CHOOSE to make the most of the gift (aka hit the gym OR hit the couch with some Ben & Jerry’s) is a different story… But if you’re pregnant (and you’re able) there are many benefits to exercising while you wait for your little bundle of joy.

7 Ways Exercise Makes the Bad Stuff Better:

  1. Nausea- Sometimes it’s just unavoidable.  I was incredibly nauseous for the majority of my 1st trimester, but I’ll be the first to tell you… there’s no better way to take your mind off your nausea than with a killer workout.  If you’ve tried ginger and you’re good on your B vitamins, but you’re still feeling queasy from all those ranging hormones, sometimes all you can do is just distract yourself.  Exercise is a great- and healthy- distraction… Pregnant Burpees, anyone?  (Unhealthy pregnancy distractions?  Eating everything in sight, watching marathons of obscure daytime TV reruns, etc, etc)
  2. Back Pain- Studies show that two-thirds of pregnant women experience back pain.  And can we blame our poor backs?  It’s not easy carrying around a watermelon all day long, but strengthening your lower back muscles, as well as yoga and pelvic tilts can offer relief. Exercise during the second half of pregnancy, as your baby is growing like a weed (or a sweet little flower) is especially helpful.
  3. Low Energy-  Exercise increases your energy, so on days when even lifting your remote control seems like a tall order, get up and get moving!  Even a just a 20 minute walk can give you the energy you need to get through the day.
  4. Weight Gain- While gaining a healthy amount of weight is absolutely vital to the development of your baby, gaining too much is unnecessary and can actually harm both you AND your little one.  Research shows that, on average, pregnant mommas put on 7lbs less than pregnant women who don’t work out.  And what makes it even better: that’s 7lbs you don’t have to work off later!  🙂
  5. Constipation- I can attest first hand to the fact that, due to high levels of progesterone and a growing uterus, the intestinal tract of a pregnant momma often gets backed up. Regular exercise, along with plenty of water and fiber keeps your digestive system moving.
  6. Gestational Diabetes- High blood sugar during pregnancy not only raises the odds of preterm delivery or having an overweight baby (OUCH!) but it also puts you at extremely high risk for developing type II diabetes in the decade after delivering. If you do develop gestational diabetes, as even many fit women do because of genetics and age, exercise may help prevent or delay your need for insulin or other medications.  In fact, studies show that with regular exercise, you lower your gestational diabetes risk by as much as 27 percent.
  7. Body Image- Let’s face it, when you’re pregnant, there will be body changes you just can’t control.  Despite the “pregnancy glow,” on some days, you’re just going to feel big.  You may be swollen, tired, etc. etc.  But keeping up with a regular exercise routine can help.  Exercise will help you feel better about yourself, look forward to the challenge of giving birth, and- in my experience- will actually enable you to celebrate the changes that your body experiences during pregnancy.

Pregnancy isn’t easy (it’s hard work growing a person!) and no matter how healthy or active, all pregnant mommas are bound to experience some discomfort.  But if you’re looking for a way to make the bad stuff better, exercise can help!

What do you think?  Did you stay active during your pregnancy?

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