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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KX Pregnancy Programme

You’ve probably heard me talk about Gideon & KX Life a few times now. KX is the most amazing gym in Chelsea with great staff, a great atmosphere – and a great spa!
Gideon, my PT there has always been on hand to give me top-notch advice, whether it’s about pregnancy, working out post-baby and even the best formula to try when bottle feeding Lacie. He’s a walking health & fitness manual and someone I’ve trusted with my training pre and post baby.
As soon as I had Lacie and got the go ahead from the doctors to exercise again, I saw Gids straight away and have been seeing him on a monthly basis ever since. He’s given me a fantastic workout plan to follow three to four times a week, and although it’s nothing like what I was doing pre-pregnancy (we’re working up to that!) I love doing it every week and can really notice the difference with my posture, muscle-tone and weak areas like my glutes and shoulders. He’s one of the only trainers that truly listens to me and truly knows my body and A-type personality – and knows how to keep me occupied training wise. I certainly don’t want to overdo things again and get stuck in the ‘Over-Training, Let’s Abuse My Body Rut’!
Since training with Gids throughout my entire pregnancy, KX have launched a Pregnancy Support Programme, which not only looks after your nutrition and training but also physiotherapy and osteopathy; things tend to move a lot in during pregnancy due to a surge of relaxin and the extra weight your body has to handle.

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The programme took over a year to get together, as, as usual they wanted to collaborate with the best experts in the industry and provide the best information and service possible. Not only are they working with nutritionist and author of ‘The Health Delusion: How to Achieve Exceptional Health in the 21st Century,’ Glen Matten but, also Simon Rice and Boniface Verney-Carron, who can provide private spa-based physical therapy sessions.

So what type of exercises does Gideon have me doing?
A Turkish Get Up is the move that starts my programme off. This helps switch on my nervous system, switch on every single muscle in my body and helps me warm up and ease myself into my session. I’ve gone from using a 8kg Kettlebell to a 12kg and we’ve since progressed it so I do an internal and external rotation and a press in each position. It’s so challenging and I really have to connect my body to my brain during every position but I love it and once I’ve done this move a few times, I feel soooo ready to start my session!

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I’m also doing side lunges with a gliding disc to work my entire lower body, including those pesky inner thighs, back pulls with a resistance band to help pull my shoulders back (I feel so hunched over since having Lacie), lunges with a Kettlebell press for shoulder stability and a toned bottom and thighs side planks, one-legged Kettlebell deadlifts and renegade rows. Each session takes about 45 minutes, which is perfect for squeezing in the morning before Lacie wakes me up and generally keeps me busy for the rest of the day!

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I would urge anyone in the Chelsea area (or beyond) to contact KX if they are pregnant and scared to train or really want to be well looked after. Not only will you be trained in a fantastic environment but you can also indulge in the spa afterwards and have anything from a pregnancy massage to a Hydra facial. Their changing rooms are awesome too….there’s big fluffy white towels, dressing gowns, hair brushes, toothbrushes, candles and gorgeous toiletries. It makes going to the gym a real pleasure even if I do miss my little cherub….

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Pregnancy countdown – 42 days to go and I get….

…….Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD)

Ever heard of it? I hadn’t either until I did my pre-natal and post natal fitness course with Premier Training International – and it happened to me early this week.

It’s basically one of the most common causes of pain in pregnancy and caused when the ligaments and joints of the pelvis become relaxed due to the hormones of pregnancy (relaxin) and become inflamed by certain movements – in my case like lunges, one-legged exercises, until walking etc.

I feel the pain mainly when walking (particularly after I’ve been sitting down for ages), getting out of the car and standing for long periods and if I stand up for too long, so to help it, I’ve totally stopped any lunges or one-legged exercises in the gym, not taking long strides when walking to and from places until I’ve warmed up a bit, and wearing my supportive Gowri Wrap, which gentle supports my baby girl while supporting my lower back.

A few other things to avoid are:

  • Pulling yourself up when lying on your back. Instead you need to roll to your side and use your hands to push yourself up.
  • Getting up and down from a char with your knees together. When you get up, keep your knees together and use your hands to push yourself up.
  • Avoid soft chairs like sofas, as you won’t get adequate support and they are hard to get out of!
  • Avoid squatting, or sitting cross-legged and sit symmetrically in the chair.
  • Avoid balancing on one leg when putting on clothes, especially underwear and trousers and instead sit down to do this
  • Lean on one hip/leg when standing. Instead try putting your weight on both legs rather than on one.
  •  Twisting your body.
  • Lifting anything heavy.
  • Lots of walking or stair climbing. Take the stairs one step at a time.

Apparently the pain will eventually subside once the baby is delivered, but to make sure it doesn’t get worse I am going to have acupuncture now every week until I give birth. I swear by it and have missed my weekly sessions during my pregnancy.

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Five inches and counting…..

For as long as I can’t remember, I haven’t weighed myself, but instead used a tape measure to keep track of my body shape. 

Instead of writing it down I’ve instead put a red line on the tape measure so every time I  measure myself I know where I stand. 

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So today I took the plunge and grabbed my tape measure to see how much weight I had really put on since falling pregnant. 

To my surprise, the measurements around my upper arms were exactly the same. Great. My calves again were exactly the same. Once again – great! My thighs were 1/4 an inch bigger – ok not the end of the world and could be water retention, but my hips were two inches wider – which shocked me slightly. I then did a bit of research and found that most women’s hips will widen during pregnancy mainly because the hormone relaxin causes the ligaments in your pelvis to widen and become flexible so that birth will be easier, which put my mind at ease. 

I then measured my tummy and ha! It was 5 inches bigger since the beginning of my pregnancy, five months ago – an inch for every month. It’s nice to know that my bubba is growing well! 

Now to support my growing bump I came across this GORGEOUS Gowri Wrap.

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It’s absolutely beautiful and is designed to give the baby some gentle support, while supporting your lower back, which is vital for me, since I am really bendy thanks to my gymnast background and even more so now that I have an extra dose of relaxin in my body. 

Dr Gowri Motha, a fantastic a doctor, healer and pre and postnatal expert also believes that the wrap can stop the colon getting bloated and discourage the build up of gas and build up in the colon, since the growing uterus is fighting your colon and intestines for space, creating gas and wind. 

The wrap can also be used post-baby too, helping to bring your ribs back to their original position and lift your abdominal organs. 

I can’t wait to start wearing this. It truly is beautiful and will support my growing bump over the next three months, whilst helping me to ease my abs back into its pre-pregnancy shape once the baby is here. Well worth the £75 and my husband likes it too! 

Get yours at http://www.bopeeps.com/collections/the-gowri-wrap.php for just £75. 

You can also learn more about it by watching this video featuring the one and only Dr Gowri. it’s a very interesting watch.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K5b4JlYDkaE