The ‘feel good’ factor of exercise is a great tool to support you on your journey through pregnancy – and motherhood.
Sleep – exercise relaxes the body and increases production of sleep inducing melatonin, allowing you to fall asleep more easily. During REM sleep you process the memories of the day and get psychological recovery. Deep sleep is a time for physical repair and restoration of your chemical balance. So, a little extra sleep helps you feel refreshed and ready to cope with your day.
Movement – Moving your skeleton and muscles releases stored up tension in the body, keeping you mobile and ache free. Working your heart and lunges improves circulation. The more efficient delivery of oxygen and nutrients and removal of carbon dioxide, toxins and waste, keeps your body functioning, and your baby developing, at their optimum.
Stress hormones – a good level of fitness allows you to handle pressure with a lesser adrenalin response and that’s better for you and your bub. Also, each time you exercise you burn off excess stress hormones such as cortisol, that can cause negative emotions. At a time when pregnancy hormones are sending you on a rollercoaster ride this can benefit you, your family and your work colleagues.
Happy hormones – exercise stimulates the release of endorphins that make you feel good. Seratonin in particular helps prevent depression and weight gain. These naturally occurring drugs promote happiness, energy and a positive attitude towards your changing body.
Distraction – brain studies show that in a restful state 90% of a woman’s brain is still switched on. Whilst so called ‘placenta brain’ may make you feel like your brain isn’t up to its usual speed, its actually probably full of thoughts about birth plans, strollers, and maternity leave. Exercise is a ‘timeout’ from all this brain activity, especially if you are in a class scenario and can have a chat too.
Mental strength – accomplishing a goal you have set for yourself, like getting to yoga after work, enhances your self esteem. Exercising to look after your own and your baby’s health makes you feel good about yourself. Pushing yourself to complete sets of exercises when your muscles are burning is mental conditioning that can only help you in childbirth and motherhood.
Body image – making the effort to exercise means you are less likely to undo your good work by eating chips and cakes. Keeping your body toned and at a healthy weight will give you a positive body image through pregnancy that is good for you and your relationship.
Loren, 35 weeks pregnant says, “I arrive late to my weekly pre-natal exercise class with tension in my shoulders and my mobile stuck to my ear. I leave 45 minutes later smiling, relaxed and stress free. I know its good for me and my baby so I try not to miss a class”.
Whether it’s first thing or last thing, get active. Morning exercise uplifts you, setting a positive mind-set for the day. Evening exercise diffuses stress and relieves any tension before bedtime.