A few months ago a photo posted online caused quite the uproar. The photo, a clearly pregnant woman participating in the intense exercise program Crossfit, raised concerns from doctors and criticism from other moms. While most women are encouraged to be physically active during pregnancy, this woman attracted more criticism than congratulations.
If that was the whole story it wouldn’t make for much of a blog post. However, two pieces of news came out recently that make this story more interesting. The first is the Crossfit mom-to-be, at 43 weeks pregnant, gave birth safely at home to a healthy baby with the help of a midwife. Secondly, a study found that exercise during pregnancy aids the baby’s developing brain!
A study was done where 29 pregnant women were randomly assigned to either a group that included 20 minutes of moderate exercise each day or a group that would abstain from exercise for the remainder of their pregnancy. Researchers found that at 8-10 days old, babies from the exercise group were better at discriminating sounds, an indicator of language development, than their non-exercise counterparts.
While discriminating sounds may not be the most impressive indicator, it does match previous research which found improved communication skills and higher intelligence tests at age five.
So…should you get your pregnant friend a Crossfit membership for the holidays? Probably not. The study required women to participate in 20 minutes of moderate exercise – brisk walking, swimming, or cycling. However, if women have been participating in a particular exercise prior to pregnancy, then in all likelihood they can (and should) continue.
We know that in-utero health can positively or negatively affect brain development and overall health. That’s why it’s so important for every expectant mom to eat well, move well, think well, and sleep well. I would also encourage every expectant mom to receive chiropractic care, which can greatly improve physical comfort and help speed up and ease the birth process.