Sport in pregnancy, new benefit discovered

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Philippe Gloaguen
@philippegloaguen
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Contents

  • 1 The benefits of sports during pregnancy
  • 2 Sports in pregnancy: who can do it
  • 3 Sports in pregnancy: when it is forbidden 
  • 4 Sports in pregnancy: which ones to choose  
  • 5 Sports in pregnancy: general advice 
  • 6 Sports in pregnancy: the American study 

Discovered a new benefit of sports in pregnancy. In addition to those already known, one is added that does not concern you mothers, but your children. In fact, moving with the belly protects the little ones from the onset of various pathologies. All thanks to a substance contained in breast milk. An American scientific study demonstrates this and it is good news that should make you get off the couch even more willingly. 



The benefits of sports during pregnancy

The benefits of exercising during pregnancy are many. There are therefore many good reasons to do it: 

  • Release of endorphins. They are the feel-good hormones, which are produced by the body when doing something pleasant, such as a little sport. They therefore allow you to relax and reduce the physiological tensions of this period. 
  • Better breathing. Movement increases the respiratory capacity of the lungs. In addition, you will learn more about diaphragmatic breathing, which will be especially useful during childbirth.
  • Muscle training. Being toned and elastic is undoubtedly another aspect that will come in handy in the delivery room. 
  • Strengthening of the pelvic floor. When the pelvic floor is in good health (i.e. trained and elastic) it will be less traumatized during delivery. In fact, the risk of lacerations and episiotomy is lower. 
  • Weight under control. Movement also helps to burn excess calories and, consequently, not to put on too much weight. This does not mean, however, that you are allowed to overeat. 
  • Lower risk of gestational diabetes. Motor activity is a protective factor from the onset of this dangerous pregnancy complication. 
  • Improvement of some ailments. Some typical gestational annoyances can be alleviated by sports. These include constipation (it sounds strange, but it isn't) and back pain (in particular some disciplines are effective, such as swimming). 
  • Prevention of preeclampsia and venous problems. Also in these cases, the movement carries out an important preventive action.

Sports in pregnancy: who can do it

Basically any pregnant woman can perform physical activity, unless there are specific contraindications, which we will see shortly. Obviously, those who were already used to moving before pregnancy (even at a competitive level) have an advantage and, in general, can continue as before. It is clear that you must always listen to the signals of your body, even if you are very trained, and indulge it. 



On the other hand, those who are not accustomed must absolutely not exaggerate. No "challenges" with themselves. Sports during pregnancy can also mean a good walk every day, without the need to exert too much effort. The key thing is not the quantity of activities you do, but the quality. The intensity must be moderate, but the basic aspect is regularity: going for a walk once a month doesn't make much sense. The ideal is half an hour a day every day. 

Sports in pregnancy: when it is forbidden 

Before embarking on any type of physical activity, you should consult your gynecologist. In some circumstances you will almost certainly be prevented from playing sports. These include the risk of premature birth, difficult pregnancies in general, placenta previa, some pathologies (such as gestational diabetes or hypertension), uterine contractions, fetal growth retardation. In these cases, you are "exempt". 

Sports in pregnancy: which ones to choose  

The disciplines that can be considered absolutely suitable for pregnancy are swimming, yoga, pilates, stretching. All three guarantee the benefits we have listed above. In particular, the water exerts a pleasant massage and lightens the body made heavy by the baby in the womb. The back will therefore benefit greatly. Yoga and pilates, on the other hand, are an excellent aid for muscle and joint elasticity, but also for breathing control, which is essential in the delivery room. 

Green light also to gentle gymnastics or dance, but it is good to always rely on an expert coach even during pregnancy: it is quite another thing, compared to a non-pregnant woman. If you have already done a sport before and if the doctor deems it appropriate, nothing prevents you from continuing to do what you already did: this applies to tennis or running, for example. Instead, it is better to forget about “dangerous” activities for the belly, such as contact sports (boxing, kick boxing, judo) or others that can still be a “trauma” such as mountain biking or skiing. Forget even those that risk making you fall, such as horseback riding.



Sports in pregnancy: general advice 

  • Choose the right clothing: it must be comfortable, comfortable and made of natural fibers such as cotton. Synthetic fabrics do not allow perspiration, causing irritation.
  • Pay attention to the footwear you wear: there are different models depending on the type of sport practiced.
  • Support your breasts well: the bra must contain it and support it, but not too tight. 
  • Listen to your body: if you feel tired, stop.
  • Stop the activity if something is wrong: in case of painful contractions, sudden vaginal discharge (of blood or liquid), feeling sick, breathing difficulties, dizziness you must not continue. 
  • Drink lots of water: it is very important. Ask the gynecologist if, during or after training, you can take drinks that replenish the mineral salts lost through sweating. 
  • Do not play sports during the hottest hours of the day: this is especially true for outdoor activities.
  • Try not to strain your muscles and ligaments: they are more delicate during pregnancy. A collagen supplement might be for you. 

Sports in pregnancy: the American study 

Doing moderate exercise during pregnancy increases a compound in breast milk that reduces the lifelong risks of serious health problems such as diabetes, obesity and heart disease in children. To say it is a study carried out by the Wexner Medical Center and the Ohio State University College of Medicine that was published in the scientific journal "Nature Metabolism". The researchers analyzed around 150 pregnant women and found that those who played sports had a higher amount of a compound known as 3sl in their breast milk, which is responsible for some health benefits. 


"The increase in 3SL was not necessarily related to exercise intensity, so even moderate exercise such as a daily walk is enough to reap the benefits," said Kristin Stanford, professor of physiology and cell biology who led the work. 


The study started by studying mice born to sedentary mothers fed with milk from active mothers during pregnancy. This is where they found that the moms' health benefits were carried over to the puppies, showing that, in fact, they passed through the mother's milk and not simply inherited its genetic traits. Since not all women are breastfeeding, researchers are looking into whether they are able to isolate this beneficial compound found in the breast milk of active moms and add it to baby milk formulas.

“This human milk oligosaccharide had a significant impact on healthy offspring. Being able to add it could provide benefits to babies when women are unable to breastfeed, ”continues Stanford.

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