Why is it important to be fit and active before pregnancy?

Planning to start a family is one of the most important decisions you can ever make. It is important to prepare and ensure you are in good health. The healthier you are, the healthier your pregnancy and baby will be.
Getting your body ready for pregnancy can be one of the most useful and effective steps you take. Give yourself time to boost your overall health. Remember good health and balanced hormones can mean you will conceive quickly and have a healthy and enjoyable pregnancy.
According to ACOG (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists), “Excess weight during pregnancy is associated with several pregnancy and childbirth complications, including high blood pressure, preeclampsia, preterm birth, and gestational diabetes. It also increases the risk of birth defects, especially neural tube defects. Having too much body fat may make it more difficult for the health care provider to monitor the baby with ultrasound and to hear the baby’s heartbeat.”
Start or maintain a conception-friendly exercise routine and find out which exercises are best for you. It is important that you make time to exercise at least 30 minutes, 3 times a week if you can. Research shows that if you exercise before and during pregnancy, you’ll experience a healthier pregnancy and birth and a faster recovery, and be less likely to suffer postnatal depression.

Here are some of the benefits of a being active and fit before pregnancy:

• Making exercise a regular habit before trying to conceive can help you feel good throughout your pregnancy,
• Increased stamina for labor and delivery,
• Helps shed the baby weight faster.
• Exercise may even improve your fertility if you’re struggling to conceive due to polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
• Helps manage stress and anxiety which can affect fertility
• Maintaining a healthy weight is one important way to help your conception chances.

Before starting any fitness routine, the following guidelines are important:

• If you have any serious pre-existing medical condition, seek medical advice before you start any fitness program.
• Do a variety of activities or fitness routines like yoga, Pilates, Barre and Strength training .
• If you haven’t exercised before, remember to start slow.
• Always warm up gently before any exercise and cool down and stretch at the end of workout.
• Do core strengthening: It strengthens abdominal and back muscles and gives better balance and posture, all of which are important when pregnant.
• Do moderate intensity exercises: If you are used to high intensity exercises, it’s time to tone it down.
• Do Cardio exercises on a regular basis: Moderate intensity cardio workouts can improve your endurance, keeps you in better shape and improves physical and mental health throughout pregnancy and beyond.
• Don’t Ignore Your Partner’s Fitness: Spouse’s health is equally important when you are planning for pregnancy. Couple workouts are a great way to integrate exercise and fun. It works as a great motivator and has been proven to increase bonding between the couple.
• Stay hydrated and wear appropriate gear for workout.

It is also important to be aware of the warning signals:

• Avoid high intensity activities and heavy weight lifting.
• If you notice shortness of breath, light headedness or dizziness, take a break and seek medical advice as needed.
• Consult your doctor if you have any pre-existing medical condition.

Remember- it is better not to wait until you’re pregnant to start a fitness program. It’s important to be in good physical health before conception and during the early days of pregnancy as the mother’s health has a direct correlation with the baby’s health. So the earlier you start, the better. If you make exercise a habit now, it’ll be easier to stick with when you’re pregnant and postpartum.

Article by Ganga Raj- Director-Wellness and Co-Founder, I Love 9 Months. You can reach Ganga at : ganga@ilove9months.com

Ganga has 15+ years of experience in fitness and wellness consulting. Over the years, she completed her Reebok Group Fitness (2000), Institute for Yoga and Consciousness (2002), AFAA Resistance Training (2003), ACE Group Fitness (2005-07), AFPA Prenatal Postnatal Exercise Specialist (2012-14), Sivananda International Yoga Shiromani (2012), Zumba Basic Level (2012), SOHYAA Prenatal & Postnatal Yoga (2015), IBBFA certified prenatal Barre certification (2016) and Doula Training (2017) and many more.



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