A really exciting study was released this week that shows women who exercise deliver babies with “more mature” brains—basically, exercising while pregnant gives your baby’s brain a huge boost! Having a smarter baby is something every mom wants and now you know you’re helping make that happen just by exercising.
The natural next question is WHY this is the case. We aren’t scientists or researchers, but our best guess is it could be related to increased placental function during pregnancy in woman who exercise. So, you might be asking, what’s placental function?
Even with new studies being released all the time about the benefits of exercise during pregnancy, women are often concerned about the effect of exercise on their unborn baby. A main concern is if the baby is receiving enough oxygen during exercise, as blood is redirected from the placenta to the mother’s other working muscles. However, just as organs like the heart and lungs become stronger when stressed by exercise, the placenta becomes stronger when placed under stress. This is proven by the fact that the placentas in exercising women are larger than those in non-exercisers. This larger organ is therefore better at supplying oxygen and nutrients to the baby. The really neat part- even if the placenta is taxed during one hour of exercise, for example, it continues to perform its functions more efficiently during the other 23 hours of the day.
To put the process into really simple terms– placental function means that as you exercise, your body moves some blood away from the baby. However, the baby will then start to fight harder for blood and nutrients, which makes your placenta bigger and stronger. During that hour of exercise, your baby may be getting less oxygen, but during the other 23 hours, your placenta is working better and is getting bigger. So even when you are not exercising, your placenta is giving your baby more nutrients because it has been trained to do so. And more nutrients= smarter babies, which everyone loves!