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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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.

38 Weeks Pregnant – Walking to Induce Labor

As you will already know – I’ve stayed REALLY active during my pregnancy. I’ve tried to go to the gym five to six times a week mixing resistance, stretching and cardio work. It’s definitely kept the weight gain under control and made me feel good inside and out. It really worries me seeing some pregnant women hardly able to walk with aches and pains all over their body. I know everyone is different and I am very lucky to not of suffered from any of this but I do think my exercise has helped this. Lots of people have questioned me in the gym saying ‘Are you sure you should be here?’ Of course I should. I know my limits and would never put myself or my baby in any danger. I think it would probably be more dangerous for me to stop training to be honest. I’ve been training for so long and my body physically and mentally relishes on it.

That said, since turning nine months pregnant, I know alternate my gym sessions with an hour walk – gym one day, walk the other. I can’t tell you how much I miss running so getting outdoors for a walk feels so good! I just stick my iPod on and go.

So what are the benefits of walking in late pregnancy?
Well apparently walking is a wonderful and natural way to induce labor at the end of pregnancy, infact the swaying motion of your hips may ease your baby’s head into your pelvis, giving you a leg up on labor.

Walking also utilises gravity to help  pull the baby down, which places gentle pressure on the cervix and encourages it to dilate. The rocking motion will also move the baby into the correct position for birth while helping to strengthen any contractions you may be having – and help them to become more regular.

Walking up and down the stairs can also be a great way to get some extra walking in, especially if you are worried about leaving the house. The action of lifting your lefts as you climb up can help the baby descent into the correct position for birth and put gentle pressure on the cervix in order to start the dilating process. Try walking on uneven surfaces, such as placing one foot on the curb and one foot on the street to. This can help rock the baby lower and encourage the cervix to dilate. Just be careful you don’t trip so hang on to your partner’s arm for safety,especially if you’ve noticed your balance has deteriorated since being pregnant. 

So make sure you keep active. I’m due for a walk tomorrow – it’s a 5km loop that takes me about an hour. Who’s with me? Just make sure you take your phone, some water, wear a sports bra and listen to your body. This isn’t the time to be breaking any records.

Have fun out there!

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Pregnancy Reflexology – the Wonderful Keah Lan

 

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I’d never really considered Reflexology until I met the wonderful Keah Lan, a highly qualified wellbeing therapist and reflexologist. She was at The Mermaid Maternity Retreat press opening day way back in June, when I was just 15 weeks pregnant. There she gave me a 20 minute taster reflexology session, which just simply wasn’t long enough! I wanted longer – she was fab! The things she could tell from my feet were amazing and the treatment itself was really relaxing.

Since meeting her, we have kept in touch on Twitter and she told me to come and see her when I was in the later stage of my pregnancy and ready to help prepare my body for labor. At 37 weeks, I’m more than ready, so I went and saw her, again at the Mermaid Maternity Retreat, which is based on the Kings Road. 

Before our hour-long session, Keah explained that she would massage certain areas on my feet to help stimulate pregnancy and labor organs and help boost my energy flow. Some of these points that she would be working on can help stimulate contractions, ease any aches and pains as well as release oxytocin, a natural hormone that is responsible for again stimulating contractions and labor. Keah specialises in reflexology for fertility, labor and the postnatal period, so I knew I was in good hands. 

The whole treatment was really relaxing. Yes, there was so sore points on my feet, especially the areas that related back to my lower back (I’ve been having lower back pain – the weight in my front feels like it’s pulling my back out of balance), my digestive system (I’ve been feeling quite sick recently – almost like I’m in the first trimester again!) and also the uterus zone, which is located near your ankle bone, and needs to be loosened slightly to help relax and of course stimulate labor. But although these were slightly tender I just practised my deep breathing (thank you Pregnancy yoga classes!) and went with the flow. 

After a good hour of TLC, Keah finished with a neck and shoulder massage and told me to get on with my day as normal but take it easy. She also mentioned that another session later on in the week would be beneficial. I did relax and met my mum for a herbal tea who was really worried and kept asking me if I was going into labor. Of course I  explained that if the baby is not ready to come, the it won’t – however, there ARE certain pressure points that can be worked on to encourage or ‘prime’ your body ready for labour. Reflexology is unlikely to start labour there and then, but Keah has found that a few of her clients have naturally gone into labour within a next few days after her treatment – pretty impressive eh!? 

I’m excited to see what happens over the next few days – will I get some Braxton Hicks? Will my back pain continue to behave itself? I hope so! 

Keah also gave me some exercises to do to help my back and open my hips like the;

* Cat Stretch – which helps stretch the lower back
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* Pigeon Pose – which helps stretch the hips and thighs
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and
* The Sitting Squat pose – which again helps open up the hips and relaxes the lower back.  
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I’m going to do these everyday as well as continue to do lots of walking and my daily gym workout. You may not feel like exercising when pregnant BUT it does help open up the hips and relax the pelvic muscles. It also gets those endorphins flowing, the calming and pain-relieving hormones that can be vital during labor. 

I’ll let you know how Thursday goes at my next session 🙂 

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