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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Exercises During Pregnancy

I'm back!  Wah, it's been way too long since my last post!!  Hope you all had splendid Easter celebrations and that spring has graced your backyard by now..  (My poor family and friends in MN and MI are still suffering from snow!)

Well, we made it to Charlotte, NC safe and sound.  And let me say, we are absolutely LOVING it!  The area really reminds us of home with all the trees and how nice the people are.  A big change compared to Orlando area.  I've been absent from blogging while we got situated here.  Dave (Dr. Dave) is in full swing with his practice, which he started last week.  We've also been spending time getting to know the community, finding a church we love, and joining local small groups in hopes to meet people and make some friends.  Looking back, I can't believe all we've done and it's only been about a week!  It's been a lot of fun so far and I'm looking forward to these next few months ahead while we get rooted in Charlotte.

If you or a loved one lives in Charlotte area and you want to get plugged in to Maximized Living (or just meet us!!  Like I said in my last post, we don't know anyone here and would love to get to know YOU!), email me, email Dave, or give the office a call and ask for Dr. Dave: 704-540-0055.  We'd love to hear from you!  We are slowly working on setting up a website for Dave, and will share that as we get our act together.

Now, what I wanted to share today are some exercise tips for pregnant moms.  You can tell where my mind is these days...   :)

Thought this would be a helpful topic for you other expectant moms!  Many of these exercises are beneficial post pregnancy and to help with bladder control.  The more I learn about the importance of strong pelvic floor muscles for woman as we age, I can't help but encourage all women to practice these exercises regularly.

I do all of these exercises every day.  Depending on our burst line up, I'll rotate in other moves, too.  But the ones I'm listing below are extremely beneficial while pregnant and will not only help ensure a healthy pregnancy and easier labor, but will help you to bounce back after birth.

Kegel / Pelvic Floor Exercises

Kegel Exercises are so extremely important!  Kegel exercises help strengthen your pelvic floor, the muscles that support the bladder, uterus, and bowels.  By strengthening these muscles during your pregnancy, you can develop the ability to relax and control the muscles in preparation for labor and birth.

Pelvic Floor exercises are also highly recommended during the postpartum period to promote the healing of perineal tissues, increase the strength of the pelvic floor muscles and help these muscles return to a healthy state.  Another great benefit is increased urinary control.  So if you sneeze, laugh, or cough and a little pee squirts out uncontrollably, you've got a weak pelvic floor and you'll want to start working on that daily.

HOW TO:

To do Kegels, imagine you are trying to stop the flow of urine, clenching in and up your pelvic floor muscles.  When you do this, you are practicing Kegel / Pelvic Floor exercises.  Each time you contract the muscles of the pelvic floor, hold for a count of three and then relax.  While doing Kegels, try not to move your leg, buttock, or abdominal muscles.  In fact, no one should be able to tell that you are doing Kegel exercises.  The beauty is, you can do them anywhere!  You also want to ensure your bladder is empty before practicing the exercises.  Working out with a full or partially full bladder can result in a bladder or urinary tract infection, which can be hard to get rid of while pregnant.

I recommend doing a minimum of five sets of 30 Kegel exercises a day.  More is better if you can get them in.  During the first trimester, I was having trouble remembering to do mine, so what I did was taped a little affirmation to my bathroom mirror to remind me to do my Kegels after every time I go to the bathroom.  I made a point to make it into an affirmation vs just a reminder note so that not only is it reminding me every time, but it's also changing my subconscious every time I read it.  "I will do 30 Kegel reps 5 times each day."  It's been two months since implementing my note, and I haven't forgotten a day since!

Tailor Exercises

Tailor exercises strengthen the pelvic, hip, and thigh muscles.  This can help relieve low back pain in the third trimester and give you strength during labor.

Tailor Sit:  This practice helps to eliminate unnecessary pressure in the pelvic area which improves circulation to the legs.  It uses your sit bones (your pelvis) to support your weight, preventing unnecessary discomfort of using your pelvic floor muscles to support your weight while you sit through the day.  Sitting in Tailor Sit also allows you to lean forward, taking the weight of the uterus off your back.  Tailor sitting also stretches the inside of your legs to help prepare you for second stage labor.

HOW TO:

Sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat together (alternate option: ankles crossed).  Lean slightly forward, and keep your back straight but relaxed.  Use this position whenever possible throughout the day.

Tailor Press:  This exercise stretches your hip and thigh muscles while strengthening your arm and leg muscles.

HOW TO:

Sit on the floor with your knees bent and the soles of your feet flat together.  Grasp your ankles and pull your feet gently toward your body.  Cup your hands under your knees.  Inhale.  While pressing your knees down against your hands, press your hands up against your knees (counter-pressure).  Hold for a count of five.  Repeat.  You can perform on yourself, or have your partner help you.
Pelvic Tilt

This position helps relieve back pain, a common problem during pregnancy.

HOW TO:

Get on your hands and knees, arms shoulder-width apart and knees hip-width apart, keeping your arms straight, but not locking the elbows.  Tuck your buttocks under and round your back as you breathe in.  Relax your back into a neutral position as you breathe out.  Repeat at your own pace.
Squatting

Squats are so simple to perform and can be one of the most powerful exercises to prepare your body for birth.  I recommend any pregnant woman squat every day to relax and open the pelvis.  This will provide easy relief as your belly grows.  But more importantly, over time the squats will strengthen the upper legs which are crucial for use during labor.  As you start to feel heavier in pregnancy, use props such as an exercise ball between you and the wall for stability.

HOW TO:

Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, toes pointed outward.  Contract your abdominal muscles, lift your chest, and relax your shoulders.  Lower your tailbone toward the floor as though you were going to sit down on a chair.  Find your balance — most of your weight should be toward your heels.  Take a deep breath and, exhaling, push into your legs to rise to a standing position.  Focus on relaxing and letting your breath drop deeply into your belly.
Prenatal Yoga & Stretching

Prenatal Yoga comes highly recommended from many friends who have had beautiful births.  I had  tried a few classes in Orlando as the studios let me attend for free.  However, it can be a bit on the pricier side, especially if you go to someone specifically trained in prenatal yoga techniques.  You want to look for a yoga studio that specifically offers a prenatal/postnatal class.  This ensures the instructors are educated on various poses you can do safely as you progress in your pregnancy and your tummy grows.  I also recommend emailing or calling the yoga studio before attending.  I was offered a free class at all three studios in Orlando that I contacted so I could try prenatal yoga out first and see for sure that I liked it and would want to continue through my pregnancy.  This is great, because you can get to know the instructor, feel the energy of the class, and meet some of the other great moms-to-be in the area.

While I loved the yoga sessions and appreciated the group setting (you can really learn from the others in the room, and meet other moms-to-be like you!), it's unfortunately not in our budget right now to continue with the yoga sessions.  So, I did some research online for the best rated prenatal yoga DVDs.  I found two gems that I alternate using daily:  Healthy Mom, Happy Baby and Prenatal Kundalini Yoga.  Both DVDs were $20 each, well worth it as you can use it thru your entire pregnancy.  I love them both for different reasons.  Healthy Mom, Happy Baby is more focused on the poses, helping you get them right, and giving tips on how to do them correctly as your belly grows.  Prenatal Kundalini Yoga is more focused on the meditation process thru the poses (something I really needed help with).  I alternate each DVD daily so I get a well rounded experience.  I love it!  Highly recommend either or both of these!

If yoga just doesn't sound like you, then I really urge you to do at least some simple stretching a few times a week.  Yoga and stretching will enhance your flexibility, prevent your muscles from tightening, and make you feel looser and more relaxed.  All of this is in preparation for the birth.  Be sure to breathe deeply and regularly as you stretch.  As you progress in your pregnancy, your ligaments will become looser and more relaxed naturally.  Stretching will help to take the tension off, release the stress of weight-bearing ligaments, and prepare the body (especially your pelvic area) for the birth.

Here are some simple stretches you can do every day at home:

Shoulder Circles

While seated or standing, rotate your shoulders backwards and down in the largest circle you can make.  This opens the chest, counteracting the rounded shoulders so many pregnant women get.

Chest Stretch

Standing in a doorway, place both hands at shoulder height on either side of the doorway, elbows bent.  Step your right foot forward until you feel a slight stretch in the chest muscles (being careful not to stretch too much).  Hold for 30 seconds.  Switch feet, stepping your left foot forward.  Hold for 30 seconds.

Roll-down

Stand with your back against a wall, your feet about shoulder-width apart a comfortable distance from the wall, knees slightly bent.  Inhale, then as you exhale, draw in your abdominal muscles, moving your chin toward your chest as you roll your torso down one vertebra at a time.  "Roll" as far down as you're comfortable going.  Keep your weight centered between your feet.

Inhale at the bottom of the roll-down, and as you exhale, roll back up, trying to "print" each vertebra on the wall.  As you return to an upright position, make sure your head is the last part of your body to uncurl.  Repeat.

These are my pregnancy exercise tips.  Hope you found something to add to your daily routine!

4 comments:

Laura

tee hee, love these Elise. Can you recommend any (or others) that will aid in pelvic aches during pregnancy? I had pretty bad ones w/ Ella, and like clockwork, as I start Month 5, am feeling the aches of my joints loosening and shifting again. I'm determined to be more active with this pregnancy, so I'm curious about what will best alleviate these aches/pains so I can continue my yoga/run-walking/biking through full term.

Healing Cuisine by Elise

Hi Laura! Congrats on your 2nd pregnancy! :) How exciting!

So you already participate in yoga regularly? That would be my first recommendation, to get those joints and ligaments stretching regularly, at least 3 times a week if not daily.

Second, if you aren't already a member of a Maximized Living health center, I strongly encourage you to get involved asap! Not only are the chiropractic adjustments crucial to a safe and health pregnancy/birth, but your pain could be caused by nervous system interference. Your Maximized Living doctor will be able to tell you if this is an issue for you and how to correct it. To find an ML clinic near you, type in your zip code: www.maximizedliving.com

Third step is making sure you are consuming enough Omega 3 fat. This is important thru your pregnancy in general as baby's brain is composed almost entirely of fat and needs fat to develop (the healthy fats). Beyond that, healthy fats are a natural anti-inflammatory, so they will help to relieve the pain you are feeling. Include about 2-4 Tbsp of healthy fats per meal (avocado, butter, olive oil, coconut oil, raw nuts, etc). On top of that, you should be supplementing with a high quality fish oil, 2-4 grams daily (6-8 grams when you are in pain). I recommend the Innate Choice brand of fish oil. Just be sure the brand you choose is third party tested to be pure and heavy metal-free.

Step four, make sure you are consuming enough protein. While pregnant, you want to consume a minimum of 80 grams of protein per day. If you aren't consuming enough, your body could be eating away at your existing muscle to make up for it. This could be the cause of your aches and pains. Keep a food long for 1 week, adding up your protein intake each day. You'll quickly see if you are eating enough protein or not by day three. Work to increase, which can be done simply by adding a high quality protein shake (20-30 grams). I recommend Vega or Raw Meal.

And step 5, when in doubt, take a bath for a short-term fix. A bath can help to get you relaxed enough to sleep, if the pain is a huge discomfort. Keep the water a touch on the cooler side, under 100 degrees, as baby doesn't yet have a way to cool itself off like we do (sweating or getting out of the water). I also don't draw the water up as high so my belly isn't completely covered. I usually stay in the bath about 40 mins max. You can add 2 cups of Epsom salt to the water to help your body draw out toxins, which could also be a contributing factor. And treat yourself to some relaxing essential oils -- my favorite in the bath is lavender. :)

Let me know if you have further questions on this. Hope some of this helps! And seriously, get in to see you ML doctor!! If not for your aches and pains, to at least get your pelvis checked! Many blessings and best of luck!

Janelle

Not all of Orlando was THAT bad, was it?? (sniff, sniff) :) You're smiling faces are missed!

Healing Cuisine by Elise

Awww, we miss you, too, Janelle!! Sorry it was such a short lived visit. I trust our paths will cross again. They must! :)

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