Exercise could help pregnant women feel happier and more energised, according to a study.
Researchers examined whether a 4-week exercise programme would improve the psychological well-being of previously inactive women. The results showed that it reduced fatigue, stress and physical well-being.
The study, carried out by Anca Gaston and Harry Prapavessis at the University of Western Ontario in Canada, proposed that rates of pre- and postnatal depression could be improved by exercise.
Published in Psychology & Health, it said that children of mothers who are depressed or anxious during pregnancy have higher cortisol levels at birth and adolescence, impaired cognition skills and are at a greater risk of developing mental disorders.
Fatigue during pregnancy has been linked with an increased risk of caesarian delivery, disturbed sleep, and has a negative impact on physical and mental health.
The more active and fit you are in pregnancy, the better you will be able to cope with your changing shape and childbirth. But it is important to remember that, when pregnant, you should not exhaust yourself. The NHS advises that you should be able to carry out a conversation while exercising – if you become breathless, you’re working too hard.
The ideal, for expectant mums, is to exercise for at least 30 minutes per day. If you attend an exercise class, make sure the instructor knows you’re pregnant.