For many who grew up with a mostly sedentary lifestyle, the motivation to get active is often lacking and feels like a monumental task. The older we get, the more conditioned we become to continue doing what we have always done, which can make change hard. Fortunately, pregnancy is an amazing time to begin a new health and fitness routine. Many new moms are highly motivated to do what they can to positively shape their baby’s health and most will keep up the practice after they deliver, which can change the health of their entire family unit.
In her book titled, The First 20 Minutes, Gretchen Reynolds said, “A baby’s time in the womb can change his or her physiology and genome. It can shape, to some extent, his or her future health and athletic hopes.” Wow, what a game changer! She went on to explain the findings of researchers at the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences. “Unborn children, it turns out, exhibit a training response, even though their mothers are seemingly doing all the work. When Dr. May examined the fetal cardiac readings, she found that fetuses whose mothers had exercised had healthier heart rhythms than those whose mothers had not worked out. And the changes persist.”
While you may not be necessarily hoping your child will become an athlete, you likely do want your child to be healthy and if you know you can give them a leg up, even before they are born, who would say no to that? If you find yourself procrastinating, a good practice to begin is to ask yourself what you are afraid of, as it has been said that procrastination indirectly points to a fear we harbor about confronting that which we are avoiding. You may fear looking like you don’t know what you’re doing, or that you’ll do it wrong, or that you’ll feel worse, etc. There are groups, forums, and coaches that can help in navigating these feelings that come up and can guide you in exercise selection and technique. This may be the exact challenge that changes your immediate family’s overall health and approaching it as an opportunity makes it very exciting to work with.
You get double benefits when you exercise while pregnant; your baby’s health improves, along with higher chances of better birth outcomes. You might use the benefits your baby will reap to motivate you to get moving, but you also receive innumerable benefits. For instance, exercise may minimize the appearance of stretch marks by avoiding excessive weight gain and developing muscle to take some of the burden off the stretched skin from the growing uterus. Additionally, exercise can help alleviate swelling, varicose veins, and pain associated with pregnancy posture.
Don’t worry about making everything perfect. Exercise can and should be something enjoyable. Think of it as a bonding experience you are having with your baby, one that starts before birth and carries on throughout childhood into adulthood.