Pregnancy is probably one of the most exciting events in a woman's life. When I found out that I was pregnant, I was over the moon, I was so excited and didn't know what to expect. Let me tell you now that my pregnancy journey was full of ups and downs, there were times when I questioned what is going on with me. I had back pain, pelvic pain, nausea and huge sugar cravings. The great news is that every pregnancy is different, one might have morning sickness throughout their pregnancy and others may not even experience it. I had morning sickness during my first trimester and it went away as soon as I hit the second trimester. My aim for writing this article is to give tips on how to survive and stay healthy during pregnancy.
- Ever heard the saying during pregnancy "You are now eating for two?" This is a misconception that makes it extremely easy to put on unnecessary weight during pregnancy. It is important to continue to follow your Macronutrient guidelines for the duration, making sure that whenever possible having a balanced intake of food. For me and many mothers to be, the thought of eating salad and vegetables during pregnancy was enough to make them feel nauseous. A strategy to combat this to ensure you still can intake quality vitamins and minerals is to make up a Green shake such as:
- 1 x Medium Apple
- 1 x Small kiwi fruit
- 1 x handful Kale
- 1 x handful spinach
- 1 x 30g Serve Almonds
- 1 x Teaspoon Chia seeds
- 200 ml water
- Walk, walk, walk! Wherever possible continue the exercise program that you were doing before you fell pregnant. Of course it is important to reduce the intensity of exercises, be conscious of overheating (so monitoring your heart rate to no more than 130BPM) and resist the urge to introduce new exercises. During the trimesters a woman's produces a hormone called Relaxin, which is preparing the body for childbirth. In essence this hormone creates more elasticity in the muscles and joints', thus highlighting another reason to be mindful of overexertion as this is a natural process that should be allowed to happen without fear or hindrance.
- As a way of protecting a woman's body and preparing for the best possible delivery and recovery it is really important to focus on developing strength in the posterior chain. The reason behind this, as the pregnancy progressing and the baby grows, this puts increased pressure on the lower spine and pelvic area, with the most extreme cases causes women to be bed ridden for the last trimester. The best ways to help develop strength in this area is by completing any variation of a pull movement, using apparatus such as band, TRX or light weights. This movement focuses on the middle and upper back as well as developing your core strength which in terms allows you to hold better posture and have better support as the pregnancy progresses. It is essential to complete some variation of core based exercises, these include:
- Kneeling "Superman" hold: Get on all fours, making sure that the hands are directly under your shoulders and knees are under the pelvic bones. Reach one arm forward while simultaneously extending the opposite leg. Keep the body straight and core tight while holding the position for five seconds. Repeat on the other side. Do at least 10 repetitions on each side.
- Hip thrust on stability ball: Sit on the ball then slowly roll down comfortably to a position where your upper back is supported and butt is in front of the ball. Slowly lift and draw the hips up, squeezing the glutes at the end of the movement. Do three sets of 10-15 repetitions.
- Kneeling pavlov press: Start kneeling on the floor with your knees under your hips. Place cable or resistance band to shoulder height with your chest up and shoulders down. Extend the arms fully with core braced, exhale as you do this. Repeat on the other side. Do three sets of 10-15 repetitions.
- Cat /Cow: Begin on all fours with a neutral spine. Slowly press the belly towards the floor and gently gaze up (inhale). Hold it for at least two seconds. Draw the belly up towards the ceiling (curve the back) while tucking your chin in (exhale). Do at least a set of 10 repetitions.
These can be done each day for 5-10 minutes, focusing on breathing, good technique and at least 60 seconds recovery between each set.
- Staying hydrated! It is quite common to experience some form of cramping during pregnancy, most likely in the calf or leg region. The effects of cramping can be reduced by ensuring at least 2L of water is consumed every day. An extra litre of water should be added on any day that exercise is performed to account for fluid loss through sweat.
- Rest and listen to your body! It is important to remember that it is ok to have a sleep during the day or say no to commitments that you know will add to fatigue. This can often be hard for those who live fast paced lives or have mentally demanding jobs. Tiredness is very common throughout the pregnancy, so give yourself permission to slow down. Elevated levels of stress hormones can have an impact on the baby's development both during pregnancy and later in life, so take the time and relax!
Pregnancy is a magical journey, so enjoy the process because it will go by so fast and before you know you will be holding your bundle of joy in your arms!
*Disclaimer: Individual results vary based on agreed goals. Click here for details.