Pregnancy fitness: 3rd trimester cardio

Even though you probably felt a bit like superwomen in your second trimester, you now may find yourself waking up slightly tried and losing energy as the day goes on. I know I certainly did. You’re also find that moving around isn’t as easy as it was and everything takes that little bit longer. The reason for this is that you’re baby is probably around 14 inches now (in your seventh month) and weighing around two to four pounds. Your breasts will also be around two pounds heavier and your uterus will be putting pressure on all your internal organs, including your diaphragm and lungs, causing shortness of breath. My bump really popped out at this stage and I felt HUGE! Staying active is vital though. I really noticed the difference at pregnancy groups – some of my in-active friends had constant back pains, found it difficult to walk for too long and even sit of too long. I didn’t really have any of this – and I certainly put it down to staying active as much as possible! 

Things to remember
During your third trimester your mobility may be limited, thanks to your growing bump and possibly water retention, and there’s no doubt that you will fatigue more easily. With that in mind, you can still safely participate in a 30-minute workout at least four days a week in order to maintain a good base of fitness and mental sanity.

One thing I would highly recommend in your third trimester is regular swimming sessions. The hardest part is probably putting on your swimsuit – but once it’s on and you’re in the water, you’re forget that you’re pregnant as the water supports your joints, provides buoyancy to your bump and supports your bodyweight. It will also keep your core temperature cool as you exercise, and work your heart as well as your arm and leg muscles.

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What stroke?
While the front crawl is still fine in your third trimester, the breaststroke will probably be most comfortable because your tummy will hang below you and the arm and leg movements are great for strengthening your back, chest, hips and bottom. It’s great for helping pregnancy posture too (you may have noticed your shoulders rounding and you get a slight hunch in your upper back). Breaststroke will stretch your chest muscles out and strengthen and shorten the back muscles that tend to overstretch during pregnancy.

Just be careful that you don’t work your legs too aggressively. Relaxin, the hormone that is will be circulating the body and working on making your joints more flexible, especially the pelvis will now be at its peak in your body, meaning you don’t have to do a lot to overstretch and cause a strain or muscle tear. Forcefully kicking your legs can strain the hip joints and ligaments because the public bone will already be starting to separate in preparation for labor. You don’t want to force the situation, which will lead to lower back, pelvis and hip pain.

How to fuel your swim
Complex carbs like wholegrains, oats, fruits and vegetables are ideal for getting your energy levels stable before and after your swim. At this stage you’ll also want to be getting sufficient calcium from calcium-rich foods like dark leafy greens, almonds and sardines – yes these are all just as good as milk!

Your pregnant body will also be leaching calcium from your bones to support the growth of your baby, so make sure you’re getting around three servings of quality calcium foods every day. Also make sure you stay well hydrated. It’s easy to forget to drink when in the pool but you can still get dehydrated, which is dangerous for you and your baby and will only add to your fatigue. Always leave a bottle of cool water at the side of the pool that you can sip from regularly, and make sure you drink a small glass before and after your session too.

Don’t forget!
As always, make sure you get the go-ahead from your doctor before you start exercising and listen to your body. If it doesn’t feel right then stop.

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And squeeze….

Pelvic floor exercises are big news for pregnant women and beyond. I’m still doing mine and Lacie is coming up to seven months – You can’t do enough.

In the early days when she was first born, I downloaded an app, called My Pff, and always did the recommended programme from the app every time I fed her. It soon became habit and when I went for my 8 week checkup with my doctor and she asked me if I was doing my pelvic floor exercises, I told her about the app and my pelvic floor schedule. She said it was a fab idea and that she would pass it on to other mums. Hopefully she did.

So what are pelvic floor exercises and why are they so important?
The pelvic floor muscles form a sling-like band that surrounds and forms the base of your vagina, anus and urethra,” explains Hugh Hanley, National Personal Training Manager at Virgin Active. “These muscles also support all your abdominal contents, and your baby will pass through them as he or she is born. Strengthening these muscles is an extremely worthwhile and important activity.”

How to do Pelvic floor exercises: 
1.       Gradually tighten the muscles that you use if you want to stop the flow of urine when going to the toilet.
2.       Try to do it without holding your breath, squeezing your buttocks together,
3.       Hold the squeeze for several seconds and then relax slowly.
4.       Now pull the muscles up tight and fast. Then relax. Then tighten them quickly again. Use clenching and opening your fist as a visual tool to help you imagine the movement.

When I’m doing moves like glute bridges in the gym, I always make sure I  pause at the top to engage my pelvic floor or when I’m doing squats I make sure I ‘zip’ up at the top to get that engagement. You can also do them whilst watching the TV, cleaning your teeth, or reading this post (try and stop yourself!) You really can’t do too many. Now off you go…squeeze!!!

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Top tips for training while pregnant

As a Journalist, I get to talk to some really interesting experts so I had to share these pregnancy  tips for training while pregnant from Hugh Hanley, National Personal Training Manager at Virgin Active. 
I’ve been a member of Virgin Active for over 10 years now, I love their Bromley gym, which is literally minutes from my house. I got so much support when working out there whilst pregnant. The personal trainers were always encouraging and telling me I looked fab, even though I felt like a whale.
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I can’t stress how glad I am that I stayed active throughout my whole pregnancy, and would definately do it again if I ever had another child. It made more energetic, happier and often put a stop to my morning sickness. It stopped me piling on unnecessary weight too! 

Here are some top tips from Hugh, which should help you to exercise safely when you’re expecting….

·         Drink plenty of fluids, before, during and after any exercise, and avoid overheating. Be sure to always warm-up and cool down

·         Wear loose fitting clothing, and comfortable non slip supportive shoes.

·         Keep your heart rate under 140 beats per minute

·         Past the first trimester, avoid exercising flat on your back – the weight of your uterus reduces the blood and oxygen flow to your baby.

·         During aerobic exercise, you will find that you have less oxygen available, so lower the intensity of your normal routine.

·         Your metabolism speeds up during pregnancy, so remember to eat a well-balanced diet.

·         Your body produces a hormone called relaxin during pregnancy. This hormone softens joints and ligaments to make the birth process easier, so be careful not to overextend joints that may result in injury

·         Do pelvic floor exercises every day and you’ll help keep your back and spine strong, flatten your tummy post birth, and alleviate the problems with bladder and bowel control that are common after childbirth. 

“Lastly make sure you listen to your body and if at any time during exercise you feel extremely fatigued, faint, dizzy, lightheaded or clammy, stop exercising and cool down,” says Hugh.
“The key tip here is that you need to listen to your body and based on what your body’s telling you, figure out a level of activity that works for you.”

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Pregnancy fitness: 2nd trimester strength training

I’ve been really lucky to be able to write some informative blogs for the children’s shop Kiddicare. I love this shop and brought most of Lacie’s baby clothing, furniture and pram from here, so its a real honour to be writing for them.
Basically all my blogs are about how to exercise safely through pregnancy. I am going to share all these blogs with you over the next few weeks so all you beautiful pregnant ladies feel confident to carry on exercising. Here’s my fourth blog – ‘Second trimester strength training.’
I remember this was the trimester well; I really got my energy back and felt great. I had my 12-week scan and suddenly my morning (and afternoon) sickness just switched off and I got my energy back.
Yes I had days when I just wanted to stay in bed and sleep so I did it. I did also find that on those tired days that some gentle exercise was great for my energy levels and pulling me out of my lull.

* As always please drop me an email or message me if you need a hand or have any queries…*

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You’re in the prime of pregnancy during weeks 12 to 26, so it’s a great time to maximise your strength workouts to benefit yourself and your bubba.

I have designed this mini workout to help strengthen the joints for your major muscle groups like your legs, upper body and arms and to help reduce the risk of injuries related to the extra force and weight you will be carrying. Working the legs in particular will help offset stress related aches and pains in your knees, lower back and hips.

Remember labour and pushing during delivery can be that little bit easier if you’ve developed strong legs and a powerful core so by during this workout three to four times a week you should be well equipped and prepared for your last trimester.

Most of these moves at home or at a gym with minimal equipment, but just make sure you’re never out of breath or holding your breath, as this can elevate your blood pressure and starve your body of oxygen, which isn’t safe for you or the baby.

Make sure you warm up well with some marching on the spot, and doing moves like arms circles, ankle circles and gentle squats or a walk round the block to prepare your body for exercise – it will take a little bit longer than it used to because your cardiovascular system won’t react as it used too. Give yourself around 10 to 15 minutes and make it very gradual to allow your body to adjust.

The Workout
1. Assisted step into wide squat
Reps 10 each leg
Sets 3
Stand with your feet and knees together, with your right hand resting on a barre, sturdy chair or fixed item like a fireplace or kitchen workout.
Take a large step with your right foot to the right side and lower into a squat with your knees and feet turned out.
Make sure you keep your body upright and that your right knee does not extend past your toes, which will place pressure on your knees.
Push off through your right foot to return to the start to complete one rep.

* A wider squat will accommodate your bump, whilst helping to build strong legs and glutes and tone the inner thighs. Just don’t too low!* Image

2. Tricep dips
Reps 12
Sets 3
Sit on the edge of a bench or chair and place your palms facedown next to your thighs, fingers gripping the edge.
Place your feet on the floor in front of you, knees bent.
Keeping your arms straight, scoot forward until your hips and bottom are in front of the seat.
Bend your elbows and lower your hips until your upper arms are parallel to the floor.
Push back to start.

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* A great move for targeting the backs of the arms, plus tricep strength makes it easier to push yourself up and turn yourself over, whilst taking the pressure of your abs.*

3. Ballet Calf Raises
Reps 15
Sets 3
Stand with your heels together so your feet form a V shape and hold onto a barre, sturdy chair or fixed item like a fireplace or kitchen worktop.
Keeping your heels together and toes out wide, engage your abs as you raise up onto your toes.
Pause for a second and lower slowly.

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This exercise will help keep your calve and ankles shapely, especially if you are prone to water retention. It will work your bottom and hips too.*

4. Back Pulls
Reps 12
Sets 3
Loop a resistance band (available from £4.99 at USAPro) at chest height around a door or something like the banisters and walk back until you feel tension in the band with your arms out in front of you.
Standing with your feet shoulder width apart, knees slightly pull the handles towards chest and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Return slowly to start making sure you take control of the band, which will want to ping back into your starting position.

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* This posture-correcting exercise will work your upper back and help to pull your shoulders back, so you stand up straighter. You may find as you get bigger that your shoulders will roll inwards making you look hunched.*

Plank on your knees

Reps Hold for 30 seconds
Sets 2
Kneel on the floor, then shift your weight forward and place your elbows down on the floor, so they are directly beneath your shoulders. Keep your back straight as you rest on your knees and elbows.
Hold for 30 seconds, keeping your abs tight while you breathe.

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* This move will gently strengthen your core, which will helps protect your lower back, while helping your abs to recover quicker
after birth* 

 Stretch it out

Mermaid stretch
Hold for 10-15 seconds on each side.
Sit up tall with your knees crossed, then place your left hand on the floor next to you and slowly bend over to the left side.
If you feel that you can go in to a deeper stretch, put your elbow down on the floor, and continue to stretch over and hold for 10-15 seconds on each side.
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* This stretch will help the abdominal muscles loosen, especially your side abs (your obliques) which will need to be stretched out to help create space more space for your growing baby.*

Don’t forget!

As always, make sure you get the go-ahead from your doctor before you start exercising and listen to your body. If it doesn’t feel right then stop. Make sure you are also fully hydrated and that your exercise in cool and comfortable conditions

Pregnancy fitness: 2nd trimester cardio

I’ve been really lucky to be able to write some informative blogs for the children’s shop Kiddicare. I love this shop and brought most of Lacie’s baby clothing, furniture and pram from here, so its a real honour to be writing for them.
Basically all my blogs are about how to exercise safely through pregnancy. I am going to share all these blogs with you over the next few weeks so all you beautiful pregnant ladies feel confident to carry on exercising. Here’s my third blog – ‘Cardio during your second trimester.’ I remember this was the trimester I really got my energy back and felt great. Yes I had days when I just wanted to stay in bed and sleep so I did it. I did also find that on those tired days that some gentle exercise was great for my energy levels and pulling me out of my lull.

* As always please drop me an email or message me if you need a hand or have any queries…*

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Now you’ve got your energy back, let’s get into the swing of some regular exercise. Here’s how to exercise safely between weeks 12 and 26 of your pregnancy.

Yay – you should start feeling better by the second trimester. Your body finally understands what it’s doing, and your hormones and energy levels have leveled out, making things feel that little bit easier.
If you didn’t get to the gym much in your first trimester, don’t panic, you should be proud of yourself for listening to your body and letting your body protect your precious baby. So now your interest in fitness – and other things has come back, lets pick up where you left off and take advantage of this new found energy!

Things to remember

When it comes to doing cardio in your second trimester, you still NEED to very much listen to your body and keep the intensity down. This is not the time to be increasing your fitness levels. Simply put, it’s the time to be maintaining them and keeping those feel good endorphins circulating the body.

One thing to remember whether you are opting to swim, power walk, use the cross trainer or the exercise bike is that you’ll sweat more easily during this trimester. This is down to an increase in weight and also because your core temperature would have risen about one-degree. This increase in sweat is a way of cooling you off and of course keeping your bubba in the safe zone. Your main mission here is to make sure you stay well hydrated, you’ll be surprised at how much fluid you lose through sweat and you need to keep your body hydrated to avoid dizziness, mental fog, headaches, muscle cramping and nausea.
So what can you do that’s safe?

Walking
Walking is still a great form of exercise during this trimester. It poses very few risks and will keep the heart rate nice and steady. As before make sure you are wearing a good sports bra to cater for your growing chest and get properly fitted shoes that provide good support. It’s also worth remembering that your center of gravity and gait will change very quickly, so stick a flat terrain with little obstacles – you don’t want to trip over. You’ll be surprised at how clumsy you can get.
I love wearing a pedometer or Garmin when walking. It monitors the time on your feet and the distance covered – those miles soon add up!

Swimming
If you like swimming, you should be able to continue swimming well into your second trimester without any difficulty. The cool-water will feel really nice as your body temperature increases, plus the water supports your joints, especially as relaxin, the hormone that released to loosen your hip joints and prepare you for labor starts to surge.
Just be careful not to jerk your legs, when doing breaststroke as this will put pressure on your hips and pelvis. You should also avoid backstroke to improve fetal positioning.
Three swims per week of 20-40 minutes is enough for you to reap the aerobic benefits of swimming with no adverse effects on your body or baby, but remember that if you begin to get short of breath during swims, slow down your pace and stay near the edge or shallow end of the pool until you feel that you’ve recovered.

Stationary cycling
Your balance and center of gravity will still be out, so I would ditch the outdoor bike and stick to stationary cycling now until the baby is born. It’s not worth the risk, especially since your pelvis is no longer protecting your uterus.
When sitting on the stationary bike, make sure you are sitting nice and upright, which will make it easier to breathe, and move the seat to a comfortable position (usually hip height) to stop your knees from opening too far. Make sure you keep an eye on your temperature too and don’t work out so hard that you feel exhausted and light headed. This totally defeats the purpose of a fit and healthy pregnancy!

Anything else?
As always listen to your body throughout your whole session and beyond and of you experience any of the following STOP and seek medical advice.
Pain in the back or pelvis
Exhaustion (much worse than fatigue)
Dizziness
Chest pain
Hyperventilation
Severe headache
Heart palpitations
Contractions that persist long after exercise
Calf swelling
Irregular heart beat.

And don’t forget to make sure you get the go-ahead from your doctor before you start exercising and listen to your body. If it doesn’t feel right then stop.