A Healthy Pregnancy

preg5Pregnancy is a relatively short and remarkable 38-42 week journey. It should not be about fitness and workouts, instead it should be about bringing a healthy child into the world. Exercise is not bad for your growing baby but there are definitely some precautions to take into consideration.

If you weren’t active before you got pregnant, don’t suddenly take up strenuous exercise. Begin with no more than 15 minutes of continuous exercise, three times a week.

Exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous to be beneficial. Simply walking or swimming are two wonderful forms of exercise for moms to be. If you are participating in fitness classes of any kind (aerobics, spin, zumba etc..) or working out in a gym, be sure to tell your instructor that you’re pregnant. Also, be sure that your instructor has adequate knowledge of training during pregnancy. If you experience back pain it is always advisable to consult with your medical adviser.

During pregnancy, your body will release a hormone called relaxin. It is released by the ovary and placenta in preparation for childbirth, it relaxes the ligaments in the pelvis and softens and widens the cervix. You need to take care when straining or stretching and avoid taking them to the point of maximum (relaxin effect) as this can cause injury.

  Some useful tips:
It is extremely important to warm up before exercising, and cool down afterwards
Avoid strenuous exercising in hot weather
If you are becoming breathless as you talk, you are probably exercising too strenuously
Be sure to keep well hydrated (drink water)
Avoid straining and stretching to the point of discomfort (relaxin)
Common sense is crucial and it’s important to “listen to your body”
Remember that your balance may be effected, so be mindful not to fall over during exercise
You should perceive the exercise as mild to moderate, remember it’s not about fitness for these 38-42 weeks
Clearance from a doctor should be sought before beginning any exercise program
Don’t exercise if you have a fever
Don’t take part in contact sports, rugby, soccer, football, judo, kickboxing etc..
Don’t go scuba diving, the baby has no protection against decompression sickness
Don’t lie flat on your back after the first trimester, the weight of your baby bump presses on the main blood vessel bringing blood back to your heart and this can make you feel faint.

Contact a doctor immediately if:

You experience bleeding, sudden discharge
Swelling of ankles, face or hands
Persistent contractions
Unexplained Abdominal pain
Persistent headaches, dizziness or headaches

How many calories a day do I need while I’m pregnant?

foodFor the first six months of your pregnancy you wont need to consume more calories than you did before you became pregnant. During the third trimester (last 3 months) of your pregnancy you will need to eat about an extra 200 calories, for a total of about 2,200 calories per day based on average recommendations. Remember, we all vary in shapes and sizes so this is based on averages. The actual number of calories you require will depend on your height, BMI, your level of activity and age.

Your midwife will record your weight at your first antenatal appointment. She can also tell you what a healthy weight gain in pregnancy would be for you.

Pelvic floor muscles and incontinence

Pelvic floor muscles come under great strain during pregnancy and childbirth. Your pelvic floor can become weak and stretched from as early as 12 weeks into your pregnancy. The pelvic floor consists of layers of muscles that stretch from the pubic bone to the end of the backbone. It is quiet common for a mom-to-be to leak urine when coughing, sneezing or other straining. It is nothing to be embarrassed about and it can continue after pregnancy.

By performing pelvic floor exercises it is possible to strengthen the muscles which will help you to avoid or reduce incontinence after pregnancy. It is good practice for all pregnant women to do pelvic floor exercises, even if you’re young and are not suffering from stress incontinence now.

You can feel your pelvic floor muscles if you try to stop the flow of urine when you go to the toilet. However, it is NOT RECOMMENDED that you regularly stop your flow of urine midstream, because it can be harmful to the bladder.

Find the right muscles:
To identify your pelvic floor muscles, stop urination in midstream.
If you succeed, you’ve got the right muscles.

Perfect your technique:
Once you’ve identified your pelvic floor muscles, empty your bladder and lie on your back
Tighten your pelvic floor muscles, hold the contraction for five seconds, and then relax for five seconds
Try it four or five times in a row.
Work up to keeping the muscles contracted for 10 seconds at a time, relaxing for 10 seconds between contractions

Maintain your focus:
For best results, focus on tightening only your pelvic floor muscles
Be careful not to flex the muscles in your abdomen, thighs or buttocks
Avoid holding your breath. Instead, breathe freely during the exercise

Repeat 3 times a day: Aim for at least three sets of 10 repetitions a day

Kegel exercises: A how-to guide for women

Resistance Training during pregnancy:

Lower weights and higher reps will maintain tone and strength with less risk of damaging ligament
Exercises requiring the supine position (on your back) should be phased out by the 2nd trimester
Strengthen the upper back to compensate for postural changes
Emphasize breathing, be sure you don’t hold your breadth during resistance training
Strengthen your lower back by kneeling exercise with a stability ball