When we’re pregnant, we do things for our babies and ourselves, and exercise is no different. Those nine magical months are a time where we can turn inwards and pay attention to our bodies – often with more care than ever before. Growing a beautiful, healthy baby is incredibly demanding on the body, so we want to support and take care of those bodies along the way.
"Incorporating a movement practice and ensuring you’re well-nourished can make a huge difference in how you feel, both physically and emotionally, throughout your journey."
The journey into motherhood is different for every woman; every pregnancy is special, unique to each mother-to-be. It can be simultaneously the most beautiful, intimate, exciting, exhausting, confronting and transformational period in your life. Incorporating a movement practice and ensuring you’re well-nourished can make a huge difference in how you feel, both physically and emotionally, throughout your journey, how your baby develops and how you experience birth.
Staying active during your pregnancy – whether with a Mamaison class or a long, leisurely walk – has so many wonderful benefits for mamas to be. For starters, it can seriously boost your mood. Many women experience a flow of emotions, negative and positive, when they’re expecting. The endorphins exercise gives you can make you feel confident, powerful and sensuous. Through movement, you can process feelings and emotions as they arise. Plus, you’ll be able to release any tension or stagnation stored in the physical or emotional body when you immerse yourself in the movement and the music.
Movement adapted to the prenatal body is often safe and supportive throughout pregnancy. Our bodies are designed to protect our babies – our uterus, ligaments and muscles cradle the baby safely as they grow and as we move. Women can experience wonderful physical benefits from a consistent movement practice. Exercise during pregnancy helps lower blood pressure and relieve some not-so-glamorous pregnancy-related issues like constipation.
Moreover, as our bodies grow and change during this period, it can be difficult to maintain good posture, which can unnecessarily increase the pressure on certain areas like the (lower) back and pelvic area. A movement practice adapted to or designed for the pregnant body brings awareness to our posture and how we carry ourselves and our babies. Additionally, it helps build, mobilize, stretch and release the most important muscles in and around the more vulnerable areas of the pregnant body. Special attention for the (lower)back muscles, deep abdominal muscles (the transverse abdominal muscle in particular) and pelvic floor muscles can help ease or prevent pregnancy-related discomfort.
In addition to building strength, movement facilitates breath and increases our connection to our bodies. Pregnancy and labour can be incredibly trying for the body; paying attention on how to breathe can make it all a little bit more comfortable (you can literally create more space in the body by means of breath, which is, with a growing baby inside, very welcome from time to time). A proper, consistent breathing pattern helps manage pressure in the core and allows us to work through any movement sequence more easily and safely during exercise. It also helps maintain posture in a more conscious way. Even off the mat, and especially during labour, breathing properly is key. Belly breathing increases oxygen flow, calms the nervous system and helps manage stress. Through deep, conscious breathing, you’ll be able to soften muscles and physically relax and release if tension is building.
"While it’s best not to push yourself too hard if you’re worn out, even a little light movement can fight fatigue and boost energy levels. It might be difficult to find the motivation to start class, but you’ll always feel infinitely better after."
Pregnancy, while wonderful, can be exhausting. Our bodies are using extra resources to support our growing babies, so we can be left feeling drained. With insomnia, nausea, hormone-related fatigue, work, social obligations and other little ones running around, it can feel impossible to be bright and full of energy. Luckily, however, exercise can really help. While it’s best not to push yourself too hard if you’re worn out, even a little light movement can fight fatigue and boost energy levels. It might be difficult to find the motivation to start class, but you’ll always feel infinitely better after. And because movement improves sleep quality and makes falling asleep easier (so long as you’re not working out too close to bedtime), your body will thank you.
While the journey into motherhood is certainly magical, it’s not always without fear or complications. And though it’s impossible to eliminate any and all risk, exercise can help ensure things go more smoothly. Research has shown that women who exercise throughout their pregnancies are less likely to have unplanned cesarian sections and also reduce the likelihood of developing gestational diabetes. And let’s not forget a speedier post-delivery recovery. The more you maintain your fitness during pregnancy, the more quickly you’ll be able to tune into your body and find a new rhythm that works for you after giving birth.
"Choose a movement practice that suits you, listen to your body and move in a way and in a frequency that feels right for you. Because feeling strong and moving your body is just as essential as giving yourself permission to rest."
Even if you weren’t dedicated to fitness before, there’s no need to worry. As long as you start slowly and listen to your body, you can safely move and reap all the benefits. Choose a movement practice that suits you, listen to your body and move in a way and in a frequency that feels right for you. Because feeling strong and moving your body is just as essential as giving yourself permission to rest. When you move in a way that works for you, you’re caring for yourself and your baby.