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The Importance of Pre- and Post-Natal Fitness

Posted on March 1st, 2013 by | 5 views

Fitness for Pregnancy and Birth

If you could increase your chances of carrying a healthy baby and delivering a smarter, stronger baby, would you? How much would it be worth to guarantee less fetal interventions and less pain during your labor? How much time would you spend each day to create less pregnancy discomfort and minimize pregnancy weight gain? Would you be excited to find out that studies have already proven all the above benefits for women who exercise during their pregnancy?

Exercise Benefits your Pregnancy and your Baby!

Exercise during earlypregnancycan improve the growth of the baby, decrease maternal symptoms, including reducing physical discomfort, improve the baby's nutrient delivery and toxin removal, and decrease the risk of maternal and fetal complications. Exercise late inpregnancyhelps to maintain fitness, limits weight gain, and shortens labor time.

In fact, studies have shown that mental performance and physical attributes are often significantly better in babies of women who exercised duringpregnancy. Ten years of research by author Dr. Clapp (Exercising Through Your Pregnancy) reveals the following:

  • Infants of exercising women do significantly better on the Bayley Scales of Infant Development (BSID) which are used to diagnose infants with delays in cognitive, motor, and behavioral development.
  • Babies born of exercising women do better on standardized intelligence, general intelligence, and oral language tests at one year of age and after.
  • Even five years after birth, children of women who exercised were in better shape than children of mothers who did not exercise.

Pregnant women who exercised also delivered leaner babies with fewer complications. The statistics include a:

  • 75% less chance of having a c-section
  • 35% less need for pain medications
  • 55% less need for Pitocin, and
  • 75% less chance of maternal exhaustion.

When Should You Start?

Exercise before pregnancy can make for a healthier conception and a stronger pregnancy, and is especially beneficial for fertility. Even if a woman has not done much exercise before her pregnancy, there are still things she can do to benefit her pregnancy and baby, and to prepare for birth. Exercises can be modified for beginners, as well as for certain high-risk conditions, with the approval of the attending doctor ormidwife.

Four big contraindications for exercise during pregnancy are significant injury, illness and disease, persistent pain, and abnormal vaginal bleeding. If any of the above occurs, it is recommended that you have the situation checked.

Exercising Post-Partum

It is important to practice exercises that strengthen your abdomen and core after giving birth. It is just as important to take your time easing back into an exercise routine. Simple breathing exercises that strengthen the core, such as diaphragmatic breathing, can be incorporated into the daily routine just after giving birth. Once bleeding has completely stopped, and you are feeling up to it, additional exercises can be added.

Specific Types of Exercise to Try

There are many, many different forms of exercise. Some have even been modified specifically for pregnancy, birth, and the post-partum period. Examples include Yoga, Pilates, and even Belly Dancing.

Refer to our Directory for pre- and post-natal fitness instructors specializing in the above areas and more.


Information provided by Kim Nelli, health coach of pregnant moms and owner of Fit For Birth in North Bay Village, Florida. For more information on Kim, click here. You may also view herfull article on Fitness for Birth, with specific exercises, by visiting our Articles section.

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