I am not a gym person. I don’t like pushing myself with weights or running on the treadmill. I’ve never felt “skinny” but I was ok enough with my body image that only working out occasionally suited me.
All of that changed when I realized I wanted to have a baby.
My Experience with Exercise During Pregnancy
As a non-gym person, I knew that classes would be the key to keeping myself accountable and ensuring I was doing things properly. In my first trimester I wasn’t up for much in terms of exercise.
Just walking the 2 blocks from the GO train to my office was enough to merit a mid-morning nap. However, unless I was utterly exhausted I made sure I went to a Prenatal Yoga class from week 9 of my pregnancy since I had fallen in love with the movements.
During my second trimester (that magical time when you finally get your energy back) and right up to my 37th week, I made the effort to add in another Prenatal Yoga class and a Prenatal Pilates class as well. They were wonderful classes that included beautiful meditations and some shoulder/neck massage most of the time too (bonus!).
Overall, my pregnancy was a dream. I gained about 35 pounds and both baby and I were healthy. I knew exercise was great for getting my pre-baby body back, for strengthening my body for labour and all of these exercises were grounding and allowed me to cherish my pregnancy and bond with my unborn baby.
Birth Benefits – This is where it pays off
My labour was 9 hours long from first contraction to the final push and most would consider that pretty quick.
Research has shown that frequent exercise during pregnancy helps to:
- strengthen your pelvic floor muscles (think extra pushing power and shorter recovery times for your undercarriage)
- reduce the likelihood of preeclampsia and pre-term birth
- help you get back to your pre-pregnancy weight
- reduce your chances of getting postpartum depression
- and, you guessed it, reduce the length of your labour!!
Ina May Gaskin, a famous US midwife, once said “Do 500 squats a day and your labour will be fast”.
That’s no joke, but getting in 500 squats per day is pretty unrealistic. Doing your best to get as much exercise as you can can potentially make a 24 hour labour become a 12 hour labour and bring your pre-baby body back that much faster!
So, why not get in some exercise and bonding time with you and your baby? It’s worth it for so many reasons!