Head. Shoulders. Knees and Toes. is a monthly series that will keep you healthy from your head to your toes, brought to you by the experts at Rowan Medicine.
There are over 3 million babies born in the United States every year. That means there are over 3 million soon-to-be mothers that adopt a different lifestyle for 40 weeks. With carrying a child comes plenty of myths and rumors about what women should and should not be doing while pregnant.
While it is up to your doctor to provide the best advice for you, there is one thing that all doctors can agree that women should be partaking in while pregnant: exercise.
Dr. Karen Krieg, of Rowan Medicine’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, says that it is important to stay active during pregnancy for a number of reasons, such as decreased weight gain, improved stress management, better sleep and easier labor, including needing less pain medication during labor.
Having stronger and more toned muscles helps the body recover quicker and more efficiently when something happens to those muscles. The same theory applies to pregnancy, Dr. Krieg says. When you strengthen muscles through exercise, it does not take as long for them to heal, and the body can handle the stress of labor better.
But more than anything, according to Dr. Krieg, the empowerment of working out can help with overall health through “the mind-body connection.”
“That connection can help manage stress, give someone a better sense of self and more empowerment over their health and their body,” Dr. Krieg added. She says the endorphins that are released in the body through exercise are essential to mental and physical health.
So what exercises are the best for pregnant women? It doesn’t have to be, and shouldn’t be, anything groundbreaking, according to Dr. Krieg.
“If you’re a couch potato, we don’t expect you to start training for a marathon,” she said. “We like to keep you somewhere near your current fitness level and maybe take a step up.”
Dr. Krieg said that just walking is great exercise, and is a great place to start. Yoga and stretching are both great for women. Women who ran previously are encouraged to keep running. But if running was not a part of the routine before expecting a baby, now would not be the best time to start.
Despite the benefits of being active, there are some exercises to stay away from while pregnant, though.
“Avoid anything where you can fall and get injured,” Dr. Krieg said. “Pregnant women have a different center of gravity so they should try and avoid things where they would lose their balance or get hit in the abdomen.”
When it comes down to it, Dr. Krieg says that she tells her patients that a little common sense can go a long way when deciding what and what not to do when pregnant.
If you or someone you know needs comprehensive obstetric and gynecologic care, the experts at Rowan Medicine are here to help. Click the link here for more information.