Every expectant mom, and their doctor, knows the importance of healthy habits during pregnancy.
Eating right, getting rest, and avoiding harmful substances is just part of the equation.
Now, research is drawing some significant conclusions on another behavior in pregnant women.
Women know that walking and other forms of light exercise are good for their energy levels and overall health during pregnancy.
But the overall benefits on the baby when women actively exercise while pregnant had not been heavily studied – until now.
The New York Times recently reported on the study, primarily conducted by Professor Linda May of East Carolina University.
She wondered about the specific benefits for babies when their mothers exercised during pregnancy.
She had conducted earlier research on the link between women who exercise when pregnant and their children in regard to cardiac health, and not surprisingly, found that these babies had stronger hearts with a slower pulse.
May then wondered if these babies may also reap some benefits in their motor development.
A group of mothers was tested – one group exercised and the other remained sedentary – and researchers monitored them throughout pregnancy and after birth.
In utero, babies of mothers who exercised showed earlier signs of physical movement, for example, making a fist.
After birth, these babies – in comparison to the control group of those with sedentary mothers – consistently performed better on tests involving motor skills.
They had earlier and better control of their heads, showed earlier movements such as making a fist, thrusting out their arms, and rolling over – and showed more advanced range of motion than the control group.
Additionally, while newborn girls often trail boys at this stage in regard to movement and motor skills, the baby girls of mothers who exercised during pregnancy showed the same physical abilities of the boys during the newborn stage.
Dr. May feels that this “jump start” on motor development might help these children to be more active – and stay more active as they get older – than children born of sedentary mothers.
The study also hints that mothers who exercise or are very active during pregnancy may also retain that energy postpartum, likely allowing them to recover more quickly and be more involved in physical play with their child, thus benefiting both mom and baby.
This research may help to encourage women to stay active during pregnancy – even though it’s sometimes the last thing we feel like doing.
By exercising, pregnant women may be giving their babies a huge advantage with lifetime rewards – a healthier heart and stronger muscles that provide a great foundation for health.
And, of course, parents model behaviors to their children. When mom – and dad – are active and involve the kids in regular activity, the whole family benefits.
(h/t Mommy Underground)