Prenatal exercise refers to conscious physical and mental activity carried out by pregnant women. It is done with an intention to remain healthy or stronger.
Like every normal human being, exercises in pregnancy do not only benefit the minds and bodies of the expectant mothers, they also benefit the unborn babies.
Mothers who understand this reality, take exercise during pregnancy as a serious business. It must not be as vigorous as possible, but such as the system can accommodate will keep the mum and baby fit and ensure better development for both.
According to Carmen Moyer, Olga Roldan and Linda May in their work; “The influence of prenatal exercise on offspring health”, a sedentary lifestyle, which is characterized by physical inactivity leads to increased prevalence of obesity which increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes mellitus, although diet lacking fruits and vegetables are also contributory factors.
They maintained that exercise during pregnancy is beneficial for fetal health and well-being, extending into childhood. Benefits for offspring are observably related to body weight and composition, cardiovascular health, and nervous system development. Exercise during pregnancy may elicit a prenatal programming effect, creating a healthy environment in utero during a critical time of organ development.
Physical activity may act as a nonpharmaceutical therapy for obesity and overweight, thus delaying or preventing the onset of type 2 diabetes. Numerous physical activity interventions are being done to treat and prevent these conditions in children; however, the earliest intervention to treat these conditions is during pregnancy.
Pregnant women ought to participate in physical activity during pregnancy. This is because Women who exercise throughout gestation show significantly decreased risk of preeclampsia, hypertension, gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), weight gain, rate of spontaneous abortion, congenital abnormalities, and incidence of preterm labor. Their offspring have normal growth and development.
According to the developmental origins hypothesis, the utero environment influences fetal organ development, which has implications for the infants after birth into adulthood. This means that women who exercise may be more likely to deliver closer to the estimated due date. Although there are many studies that have compared gestational age between groups of women who exercise or not during pregnancy. The current guidelines of many nations suggest that pregnant women participate in at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity.
Out of ignorance, many think that exercises in pregnancy will not only weary the body of the mother, but would also constitute stress to the unborn. The truth is that exercise helps you reduce the risk of backache, constipation, bloating and swelling. It may also improve your ability to cop with labour.
Typically, if you were physically active before you became pregnant, it is likely safe to remain active during pregnancy. According to studies, whether acute or chronic, exercise in pregnancy is not harmful to the fetus and may benefit development in utero and after birth.
Physical activity during pregnancy, however, decreases the risk and incidence of Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM), in part by decreasing excessive gestational weight gain and stimulating a better control of glucose metabolism. This phenomenon is also true for high-risk groups such as women who are overweight or obese prior to pregnancy, especially those who are inactive. Physical activity starting at the beginning of pregnancy can be used as an early therapy to prevent excessive weight gain and GDM. Women who develop GDM during pregnancy can utilise physical activity as an adjunctive therapy and are able to decrease their insulin therapy and thus have better metabolic control compared to sedentary pregnant women.