“An active pregnancy is worth it,” says Keri Gerlach, Registered Kinesiologist with Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre’s Maternity Centre. “Pregnancy brings a lot of changes to your body, both physically and psychologically, and safe exercise can help you to cope with and manage some of these changes.”
A registered kinesiologist has been part of the Maternity Centre’s free services to pregnant and postpartum women since the centre opened approximately 10 years ago. Registered kinesiologists are highly educated health care professionals who specialize in body movement using evidence-based research to develop programs for people to help them get and stay fit and perform at their optimum level.
Being active during pregnancy offers many benefits, says Gerlach. “Improving posture, increasing your energy, reducing back pain, improving your mood, reducing stress, anxiety and depression, maintaining your functionality, promoting healthy weight gain, and building strength and stamina to prepare for labour and delivery. Research also shows that a higher fitness level can decrease the length of labour and delivery and help with a faster recovery after.”
Research also demonstrates that exercise is safe during healthy pregnancies and beneficial for both baby as well as mom. “Some studies show that babies of exercising mothers tolerated contractions much better than babies of sedentary mothers, and that exercise is soothing and relaxing to baby,” explained Gerlach. “The recommended amount of physical activity during pregnancy depends on the woman and her pre-pregnancy fitness level, but the minimum recommendation is three days per week for 15 to 30 minutes. Exercising most days of the week is ideal, and includes both cardio and weight-bearing sessions. What is most important is that you always listen to your body and rest when needed. You should check with your prenatal care provider to make sure it is safe to exercise during your pregnancy.”
As part of the Maternity Centre, Gerlach’s free services to all pregnant and postpartum women include: pre- and post-natal exercise classes, pre- and post-natal home exercise programs, exercise prescriptions for back pain, sciatica, tail bone, hip and pelvic pain, education on safe exercise during pregnancy and education about getting back to exercise safely after delivering baby. These services are free, and can be accessed by calling the Maternity Centre at (807) 684-6228.
For more information about the Maternity Centre and services that are available for pregnant and postpartum women, visit: www.tbrhsc.net/maternity.