The American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation revealed that, “There is a direct link between healthy mothers and healthy infants. Exercise and appropriate nutrition are important contributors to maternal physical and psychological health,” (1). Another recent study explained, “While early studies on the effects of physical activity during pregnancy were concerned about possible harm to the mother or fetus, these fears have not been substantiated. Instead, a growing body of literature has documented several health benefits related to pregnancy physical activity.” (2)
Increasing oxygen intake and blood flow during pregnancy help your baby tremendously. In fact, studies show that “…as the site of nutrient transfer, the placenta is pivotal in the tug-of-war between mother and fetus over resource allocation. It responds to both fetal signals of nutrient demand and maternal signals of nutrient availability and adapts to regulate the distribution of available resources. These adaptations involve changes in placental size, morphology, transport characteristics, metabolism, and hormone bioavailability…,” (3).
Just as our bodies and minds strengthen with exercise, so does our baby’s.
What about baby blues?
Well, in fact, a controlled trial study found that, “…exercise and health education programs are effective in improving postnatal well-being. Consistent use of the program may reduce longer-term problems such as postpartum depression,” (4).
Okay, we get it. There are a lot of REALLY powerful reasons to exercise while pregnant.
Nevertheless, a lot of myth and misinformation abound.
Having worked with pregnant women as an exercise coach for many years, I’m here to dispel these myths once and for all.
Myth #1 “Exercise will overheat mama and baby”
While it’s wise to avoid hot baths or saunas because they raise the body’s core temperature, baby doesn’t necessarily get hot because mama does. When you exercise while pregnant, stay cool with hydration and moisture-wicking clothes. An increase in thermoregulation occurs during pregnancy, which protects the fetus by pulling away excess heat from the womb. Score!
Myth #2 “Exercise will tangle the umbilical cord.”
There’s no evidence of this. Period.
Myth #3 “Don’t let your heart rate go above 140 beats per minute”
The original myth comes from recommendations released in the 80’s by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). However, once research was done on actual humans in the mid-90’s, ACOG revised their heart rate warnings from previous decades. Heart rate is less effective a measure of over-exertion than women listening to their bodies. On a scale of 1-10, try to avoid getting to a 6-7. A rule I like to use is this. If you can talk without becoming breathless, you’re probably in the safe zone.
Myth #4 “Working out causes miscarriages”
While there’s a higher risk of miscarriage in the first trimester, there is no evidence that links exercise to miscarriage. Next!
Myth #5 “Don’t lift more than 25 pounds”
It’s hard to gauge what the “right” amount of weight a person should lift is because each women is stronger in different areas. Bench pressing 25 pounds is different than lifting dumbbells. Observe your body, have good form, and try not to exceed a level 7 effort level on a scale of 1-10.
Myth #6 “Squats and lunges put too much pressure on the pelvic floor”
There’s no reason not to do squats and lunges. Founder of Moms Wear Capes, Stephanie, did jumping squats until the day before her labor! Just be careful not to fall.
Myth #7 “Core exercises can cause your abdominals to separate”
I give a great description of how to safely avoid separation of the abdominals (diastasis recti) in my Moms Wear Capes Pregnancy Workout Video. Overstretching of the abs is a way to cause diastasis recti. Surprisingly, moderate, modified core exercises such as planks and pushups actually keep the core strong and intact; preventing the very abdominal separation we’re warned about!
Myth #8 “Don’t lie on your back when pregnant”
Increased pressure on the vena cava, an enlarged vein that returns blood to your heart, can cause dizziness, nausea, shortness of breath, increased heart rate or even decreased blood pressure. However, sitting up or rolling onto your left side can alleviate these symptoms. Lying slightly inclined helps many pregnant “back sleepers” navigate this myth.
Myth #9 “Prenatal Exercise causes low birth weight”
Prenatal exercise makes mothers, and babies, healthier. Babies born to fit moms will often have less body fat, but that’s totally okay. Labor tends to be less complicated and in the long-term, studies suggest that you’ll have a much healthier (and smarter) baby if you DO exercise during pregnancy.
To learn more about healthy pregnancy fitness, watch Tatum’s workout video in Superwoman School today.
Find Tatum’s pregnancy workout (while she was EIGHT months pregnant) by visiting www.momswearcapes.com/registration/.
Tatum has been featured in Fit Pregnancy Magazine and was chosen as one of “Austin’s Fittest” by Austin Fit Magazine. She has also been interviewed by many news outlets and received heartfelt endorsements from moms, doctors, doulas, and celebrities.
During her 8 years in the Army, she consistently received the highest fitness awards, including the best fitness score in Basic Training and Drill Sgt School, competing amongst mostly males. I was also chosen to represent her unit in an “Iron Soldier” competition.
Tatum holds a personal training certification from the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) as well as personal trainer and pre/postnatal fitness certifications from the American Council on Exercise (ACE), and she created a pregnancy certification for fitness professionals. Tatum studied Kinesiology and Communication at Texas Christian University receiving a Bachelor of Science degree and has a Master’s degree in Business Administration. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Performance Psychology to better help women with both the mental and physical obstacles of living a healthy life.