If you really want to know how to make your developing baby smarter, less stressed individuals, have decreased risk of being overweight or obese children and adults, and decrease risk of chronic health conditions……read on!
How many times have we heard that exercise is important? Countless times right? This is not new information to anyone. However, women who are pregnant are not always advised of the benefits of exercise for themselves and their developing baby. Majority of the time they have been told that it will help with having a smaller baby, make labor easier, and labor quicker (yes we definitely want that don’t we ladies!!!!).
Unfortunately there is a large amount of information that is missing. The great news is I am here to tell you more.
Benefits for the “Little Bundle(s) of Love”
Let’s start with the minimum. Recent research has shown pregnant women who do physical activity 3 days a week for 20 minutes ranging from light-moderate and moderate –moderate/intense:
Have babies with increased cerebral activation. This means the baby’s brain was developed quicker and has more neural activity. The increase in brain activity at this time of life has been shown to correlate with smarter babies and therefore smarter adults. These babies have also been shown to handle stress better than those of mothers who were not physically active. This is beneficial for the baby going through the stress of labor as well as all other life stresses that we all experience into adulthood.
Let’s increase the time just a tad J Most other research studies were based on physical activity 3 days a week for 30 minutes ranging from light-moderate and moderate –moderate/intense; have babies with improved development of the Respiratory System and Central Nervous System (brain and spinal cord for processing information). As a result of the enhanced development of these systems the babies breathing movements were increased. The reason why the breathing movements show an increase is due to the boost in the Vagal nerve control. Why does this matter?
The Vagus nerve is responsible for many jobs such as our heart rate, sweating, smooth muscle contraction in the esophagus to continue to move food down t into the stomach, muscle movements in the mouth, speech (recurrent laryngeal nerve) which means better language skills, allowing the larynx to stay open for breathing (posterior cricoaryteniod muscle). It has also been found to have some afferent fibers (carry sensory information received to the Central Nervous System) that communicate from the ear canal to the outer ear. Therefore exercise helps all of this to function better than it would have otherwise! No one ever mentions this do they?!
Another great discovery is the fetal cardiovascular system is also enhanced. This means right from the start they have better cardiovascular health because their mother is physically active. The fetal heart rate is lower in breathing and non-breathing movements.
The babies also show enhanced tolerance to glucose. This means there is a decreased risk of diabetes into adulthood.
The baby’s birth weight is also influenced with exercise. When a baby is born within the weight range of 5-8lbs they have a decreased risk of obesity as adults.
The placenta also adapts to exercise in a very positive way. With exercise the placenta will also have increased blood flow which means there is more nourishment going to your little bundle(s) of love. Increased nourishment is vital for the baby (babies) brain, heart, lungs, ALL organ systems, and WHOLE body development. We will go into the benefits of nourishment in another post because there is plenty to share on this topic all on its own.
Benefits for Mommy
Most other research studies were based on physical activity 3 days a week for 30 minutes ranging from light-moderate and moderate –moderate/intense. However, if you are getting even 20 minutes in be very proud of yourself because it is not always easy.
Exercise of course does increase your fitness but it also increases your strength. This is helpful as your body changes over 9 Months by increase your comfort and helps to minimize low back pain.
There is also significant decreases in your risk of having high blood pressure, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes (glucose tolerance), and decrease unnecessary weight gain.
Other vital benefit no one thinks about is the improvement to attitude and mental state. The mother’s mental state and attitude does also influence the baby’s “mental wiring” if you will. In other words, happier moms have happier babies. Exercise has also proven to decreases stress and decreases the risk of post-partum depression.
Exercise also improves memory retention (this will help with “Baby Brain”)
Exercise will also decrease preterm labor, labor complications, and shorter labor, and recovery after labor. Who doesn’t want any of this.
Your cardiovascular health will also be enhanced! This ladies, will come in very handy during labor in combination with the increased strength you have gained.
When we tie the information all together we see there is much more to exercise and physical activity than meets the eye. The improvements the mom gets the baby benefits from too. Their overall development is enhanced! This is another way to give our children a better chance to live long healthy lives with little risk to the sadly common health condition of today. Just one more way to pass down better health as a family legacy.
Remember you do not have to get all 20 or 30 minutes in at one time. Break it up into time segments the body will respond the same way. Schedule days to walk with your husband, boyfriend, family, or friends. Find a prenatal yoga or exercise class. Make exercise something you have FUN doing!
Email me if you have questions I am here to answer them
To read research articles on exercise go to the “research articles” tab.