MOTHERS-TO-BE could reduce the risk of post-natal depression and complications during childbirth by exercise, claims a Wearside academic.
Following a safe exercise regime could help pregnant women, according to Morc Coulson, programme leader for sport and exercise science at Sunderland University, who has co-written a new book on the subject.
The Complete Guide to Pregnancy and Fitness was written by Morc and Sarah Bolitho, a fitness and training manager.
Morc says there is clear evidence, supported by the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecologists, that there are less complicated births for those women who have exercised leading up to and throughout their pregnancy.
“We look at the different changes of the body throughout pregnancy,” he said. “The centre of gravity movement, the posture, what happens to heart rate and blood flow, hormonal changes within the body and how exercise can have a beneficial effect.
“Staying active during pregnancy can improve muscle tone, strength and endurance which are good preparation for labour and giving birth.
“As well as the physiological changes to the body, we place equal importance on the psychological in the book such as anxiety, stress and panic disorders, which can occur as a result of pregnancy from ante to the post-natal stages.”
Morc said there is also evidence to prove how activity and exercise can improving mental health helping to prevent post natal depression. The book explains the implications that pregnancy has on activity and guidelines for designing appropriate exercise programmes.
Exercises are geared around the impact on and stabilisation of the joints, managing the temperature of the mum-to-be and ensuring the safety of the baby throughout each trimester.
However, the book makes clear that mams-to-be who have not exercised prior to falling pregnant, should not attempt a hectic training programme.
Morc added: “The guidelines we recommend focus on each pregnant woman as an individual, working within their own limits.
“It’s about how programmes are delivered and managed by qualified instructors as you can’t have a blanket exercise programme with such a specialised group.”
One gym which understands the benefits of exercise and pregnancy, and has been running pre- and post-natal classes for a number of years, is MyBody Studios, in East Boldon.
Emma Newham, director of MyBody Studios, said: “This much-needed book not only covers safe and effective exercises, but features a range of pregnancy-related topics such as posture, hormonal changes and stress that are essential reading for any new mum-to-be.”
The Complete Guide to Pregnancy and Fitness, published by Bloomsbury, is the sixth addition to Morc’s tried and trusted fitness books.