Movement and Exercise During Pregnancy [A Holistic Guide from a PT and OB-GYN]

There is a ton of information out there on the internet about how to create a happy and healthy pregnancy, but nothing beats the chance to hear directly from an expert! That is why I was so excited to have the chance to interview Patricia Ladis, PT, CBBA. She has practiced holistic therapy for 22 years and recently released a book with Dr. Anita Sadaty, a highly regarded holistic ob-gyn. Their book guides couples through conception and pregnancy with a focus on wellness and the use of movement.

We recommend grabbing a copy of their book for a comprehensive guide, but you can check out a few of Patricia’s tips below!

Movement and Exercise During Pregnancy

First off, can you tell us a little bit about your book, The Wise Woman’s Guide to Your Healthiest Pregnancy and Birth? 

The Wise Woman’s Guide to Your Healthiest Pregnancy and Birth is a joyous spin on guiding women, and men, through preconception, pregnancy, labor/delivery and postpartum using movement, nourishment, breathing, lifestyle medicine and wisdom.

The book is filled with strengthening, stabilizing and flexibility exercises, breathing exercises, food guidance, ancient wisdom backed by the science of today, and good old-fashioned tips to support women through this wonderful time of great changes.

What are some of the most important things to focus on for a healthy happy pregnancy?

A positive mindset, good support, exercise, good nutrition, and proper breathing will help you have a healthy and happy pregnancy. The top priority for a pregnant woman to remain happy & healthy and have a healthier baby is to have supportive and positive relationships.  This book guides the reader to set up her support network so that she excels during this time and prevents issues that so many women can develop (postpartum depression, pain, anxiety).

Why should women prioritize movement and exercise during pregnancy? 

The best way to have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby is to move! Movement is the best way to lower inflammation which helps you pass along positive genes to your offspring.  Movement also helps you sweat out toxins, have improved mental health and keeps you strong and fit for labor/delivery. 

In order to move well, we need to breathe well! Breathing is the foundation of everything.  The issue is that 100% of pregnant women have a breathing dysfunction.  Because a pregnant woman can’t access her diaphragm, she will not be able to completely breathe efficiently.  The good news is that if you perform the breathing exercises in the book, you will be able to compensate in the best possible way to decrease your chances of having symptoms.  Such symptoms can include nausea, anxiety, brain fog, memory loss, fatigue, and more.

Does exercise benefit the baby at all? 

Absolutely! Since exercise is the #1 way to reduce inflammation in the body, you are more likely to pass along positive genes to your baby and mute, or dim the light on, the negative genes.  Also, when women exercised during pregnancy, at least 30min walk/day, it amplified their baby’s neuroplasticity of the brain. 

The only thing to avoid is extreme sports and high-intensity sports as they have a negative effect and can inflame you.  Men and women should moderately exercise, doing something they love for 6 months prior to conception and women should continue to exercise during pregnancy as long as they are cleared by their OBGYN.

Can you give us a couple of exercise examples that are safe for pregnant women? 

Brisk walking 30 minutes or more per day, preferably in nature and maybe to some of your favorite music. Biking is great and particularly great if you develop gestational diabetes. Dance is fantastic and is a triple threat: you get 3x the health benefits since with dance you get- movement, meditation, and music! Strengthening exercises for the lower gluts, gluteus medius, core, pelvic floor, scapular stabilizers, legs, calves, and feet can be very helpful!

My book provides pictures and descriptions of specific exercises, stretches, nerve mobilization, and even self-mobilization exercises to help women feel good and strong throughout pregnancy.  

We even include proper posture, breastfeeding and postpartum body mechanics.

If you could give a pregnant mom just one piece of advice, what would it be? 

Visualize your whole experience from preconception, pregnancy, labor/delivery and postpartum.  Think about what you want this time in your life to look like, how you will gracefully move through the challenges with ease, how you will be the best mom you can be and come out winning! ENJOY this wonderous time of matriscence!

What was your favorite way to move during pregnancy? Let us know below in the comments!

Expert Bio

My name is Patricia Ladis, PT, CBBA and I’ve been practicing holistic Physical Therapy for 22 years and I am also a behavioral breathing analyst.  I used to be a professional dancer and have been getting women back on stage or high-level sports after pregnancy, or injury, since 1999.  I have a specialty in tennis, dance, the core, breathing, and getting to the root cause of pain to eliminate it for good. I am the founder of WiseBody PT, co-founder of First 1000 Days of Wellness, Global Wellness Institute Chair for the First 1000 Days Initiative (for Perinatal Wellness), and author of The Wise Woman’s Guide to Your Healthiest Pregnancy and Birth.

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