Pregnancy Stretch Marks
A staggering 8 out of 10 women will get stretch marks during pregnancy. They are an everyday problem, affecting all skin types, developing on thighs, breasts and most commonly on the tummy. We asked our friends at Secret Saviours to tell us why they occur and how you can help prevent them.
How Stretch Marks Form
During pregnancy, hormones soften fibres in the skin in preparation for labour, making it more susceptible to tears as the skin stretches. Think of a windscreen splitting downwards after a small crack appears from a flyaway stone. Stretch marks form in a similar way. A small red micro-tear will appear in the skin and then, already weakened, the skin will eventually tear in a straight line downwards, at right angles to the body’s natural skin lines (known as Langer’s lines).
These tears appear as red lines that fade slowly after childbirth to leave pale, silvery lines on the skin. They never disappear completely and can cause deep physical and emotional issues. Even with today’s body positive attitude to skin imperfections and celebrating your ‘tiger stripes’, many women find it difficult to come to terms with a tummy full of stretch marks.
Creams, oils and gels might help, but don’t actually prevent stretch marks
Unfortunately, once formed, there is little that can be done to remove pregnancy stretch marks. The internationally renowned Cochrane Report on stretch marks, as well as the British Journal of Dermatology, both agreed that creams, oils and gels don’t work.
Dr Justine Kluk, consultant dermatologist from London, believes brands need to be more honest about what topical treatments can achieve: “Creams can potentially make the skin feel smoother and plumper in the short term, but if they’re not actively going to reduce or eliminate stretch marks in the long run, and science seems to say that they won’t, then consumers should be made aware of this.”
Secret Saviours have developed an innovative system, invented by scientists and clinically proven to make a significant difference to your skin.
This product is a simple three-step Stretch Mark Prevention System from Secret Saviours, consisting of a Bump Band, Day Gel and Night Cream. When worn daily throughout pregnancy the revolutionary Bump Band secretly gets on with the job of preventing stretch marks, whilst mums-to-be get on with the job of growing their baby.
How does Secret Saviours Work?
The Bump Band is printed with specially arranged pads which gently grip the skin, equalising tension across the tummy, preventing small micro-tears from forming. The pads are deliberately arranged in an irregular pattern so if a micro-tear does appear, it can’t easily rip downwards as its path is blocked by the pads.
The Bump Band is comfy and safe to wear and is accompanied by the slightly tacky Secret Saviours Day Gel, which holds the pads in place, and the Secret Saviours Night Cream which deeply moisturises the skin at night, leaving it soft and supple.
In independent trials Secret Saviours saved 82% of women from getting stretch marks. And with growing evidence that creams, gels and oils simply cannot prevent the skin tearing, this is a product you’d be mad not to invest in.
FittaMamma customers can enjoy an exclusive offer of 15% off Stretch Mark Prevention Kits until the end of August. Just head to secretsaviours.com and enter FITTA15 at checkout. Team your Secret Saviours Bump Band with supportive FittaMamma activewear for maximum benefit.
FittaMamma Fitnesswear – the athletes choice
FittaMamma Fitnesswear – the athletes choice
Dame Sarah Storey
14 times gold medal Paralympian
Sarah wore FittaMamma gear to train during her first pregnancy and chose the Ultimate Range for her second pregnancy. She says: “Staying fit and healthy in pregnancy is important for so many reasons. Your baby will benefit from you being fit and healthy as they are less likely to struggle with their own weight as they grow. The other positives are to the way you feel. Exercise helps with confidence and the endorphins provide that sense of happiness and calm. I trained throughout my first pregnancy and am following a similar plan this time too. Listening to your body, wearing suitable clothing and having a smile on your face are my 3 top tips for exercise in pregnancy.”
Professional dancer with the Royal Ballet
Tara looked amazing dancing during pregnancy, teaming her FittaMamma Ultimate fitnesswear with a tutu! She shares her top tips for safe prenatal exercise:
1. Listen to your body. It’s doing a lot of hard work to begin with during pregnancy, and it will tell you when something is not right and you’ll feel great when you’re doing something it has loved!
2. Wear comfortable clothing. The last thing you want as your body and bump are growing is for clothes to feel too tight! The FittaMamma range accommodates for these prenatal changes and gives you all the support in all of the right places at the same time.
3. Have fun! Choose an activity that you enjoy and the benefits will rise even more!
Amy Williams MBE
Winter Olympics Gold Medallist
Amy wore FittaMamma exercise gear throughout her second pregnancy. She says ‘Exercise is really important to me but my routine could easily be followed by other Mammas-to-be! I walk as much as possible each day and try to fit in regular HIIT or body circuit sessions, aiming for at least three times a week. These last between 15 -45 minutes – if you don’t have time for a longer session it’s better to try and fit in a few 15 minute workouts. Stretching is really important too, and I like to include yoga when I have childcare available.’
As my bump got bigger and more noticeable, it became apparent that people thought I was crazy – and it was those kinds of reactions that prompted me to champion other women who have also kept up their own exercise and fitness regimes. Pregnancy isn’t an illness, it’s a wonderful and life changing thing, but doesn’t mean your life has to stop.
Helen supported our ‘Pregnant Not Powerless’ campaign, proudly wearing her FittaMamma vest.
Marathon Runner and mother to five
Beatie teamed her FittaMamma vest and maternity fitness capris with a long sleeved top and a running skirt when she ran the Tel Aviv marathon during pregnancy.
She says, ‘Committing to run a marathon whilst pregnant really motivated me to keep training. And I enjoy running so it wasn’t hard. I didn’t do any shorter races but with marathon training you really can’t miss any runs if you want to be properly prepared.’
UK Elite Pole Champion:
Elite Pole dancer Charlotte was an avid supporter of the FittaMamma Pregnant Not Powerless campaign, saying “Staying active during pregnancy isn’t about how hard you push but about moving your body to create a healthier future for you and your baby. I exercised before being pregnant to make me feel good so why wouldn’t I continue for the same reasons during!? I am now working at a way lower intensity but it’s still gives me that feel good factor. Listen to your body and do what feels good for you! Here’s to being #pregnantnotpowerless”
Shop our Supportive Maternity Activewear
FittaMamma Maternity Fitnesswear – Tested by Science
FittaMamma Maternity Fitnesswear – Tested by Science
The innovative FittaMamma maternity fitnesswear range has supported thousands of pregnant women around the world, lifting and holding, alleviating pregnancy backache and easing pelvic girdle pain.
We KNOW our range is the optimum choice for women to stay active during pregnancy – but we wanted scientific PROOF.
We commissioned an independent, scientific evaluation of our fitnesswear with the renowned Research Group in Breast Health at Department of Sport and Exercise Science at the University of Portsmouth, UK to gauge EXACTLY how FittaMamma maternity sportswear makes a difference to women exercising during pregnancy.
The research team is routinely asked by lingerie manufacturers, the military and the health sector to advise on bra design to reduce breast bounce. This is the first time the team had tested clothing’s ability to reduce the bounce and movement of a pregnancy bump during exercise.
And the results?
Detailed scientific analysis under full test conditions showed a massive 48% reduction in bump bounce in all directions when wearing the FittaMamma fitnesswear compared to ordinary maternity vests and leggings. Even relatively gentle exercise generated bump movements of up to 6.2cms when wearing standard clothes, but this was reduced to only 3.8cms in the technically designed and supportive FittaMamma maternity wear.
The participants rated the level of support for the back provided by the FittaMamma fitnesswear at 8.25 out of 10, compared to 3.5 out of 10 for high street maternity wear, rating support for the hips and pelvis at 8.75 out of 10 compared to 3.25 in the comparison vest and leggings.
The research also revealed that the women felt more confident exercising in FittaMamma maternity fitnesswear, with 75% of participants stating that they would be more likely to undertake more exercise when wearing FittaMamma clothing.
What does this mean for you?
FittaMamma maternity sportswear supports your bump just like your sports bra supports your boobs. In the same way you look after your boobs when you exercise, looking after your baby bump by wearing our supportive maternity fitnesswear reduces undue movement, lifting and holding securely.
That means your precious baby bump is held securely and safely whilst you exercise. You can stay fit for you and your baby, fully reassured that your bump is held snugly, with minimal movement and maximum comfort.
Pregnancy can cause lower back ache and pelvic girdle pain, potentially putting some women off exercising. Supporting the bump and reducing the amount of bounce, even during walking is likely to alleviate this. Holding your bump, back, boobs, hips and pelvis securely enables you to stay active for longer and more regularly throughout your nine months journey enjoying the health benefits of an active pregnancy for both you and your baby.
So how does it work?
The supportive mesh back panel of our Ultimate maternity sportswear tops isn’t just a style feature – it includes the unique cross back technology to ease the weight of your bump on to your back and shoulders where you’re naturally stronger. It works perfectly with the super stretchy front panel that hugs and holds where you need it and a soft inner bra gives just the right level of additional boost to supplement your favourite sports bra (your boobs will never say ‘no’ to extra support during pregnancy). The wide waistband sits under your bump, encircling your hips and pelvis, holding them firmly when your joints start to loosen.
And FittaMamma maternity leggings? They work when you workout too. The deep waist panel is cut high to support your bump without neglecting the support your need for your lower back. It’s designed to be worn rolled up or rolled under depending on your activity or your trimester.
Whilst the most important aspect of our maternity sportswear is the support and fit, we’ve achieved this without sacrificing style – the FittaMamma range looks awesome! What’s not to love about luxe performance fabrics, breathable mesh panels and enough stretch and support to see you through your whole pregnancy?
Best of all, FittaMamma is the ONLY maternity sportswear that has been scientifically tested and PROVEN to support your baby bump!
Reduce bump movement for comfort and security during your active pregnancy
Shop our Supportive Maternity Activewear
Celebrating Christmas with a ‘baby bump’?
Check out our top tips and thoughts for a pregnant Christmas – there’s even more to celebrate if there’s a baby on the way.
Take it easy! Make the most of being pregnant and accept offers of help. Let other people carry the shopping and do the cooking and take some holiday time for yourself. Once your baby arrives you’ll long for half an hour to curl up with a book or to watch your favourite film.
Don’t take it toooo easy! Finding time to do some exercise will give your more energy to cope with the extra demands of Christmas. If you’re struggling to fit in your favourite pregnancy workout session at the gym, don’t forget that walking is good exercise too – a bracing walk is a sociable way to stay active, get some fresh air and maintain your cardio fitness.
Late nights and heavy partying might be off the agenda but don’t refuse the invite on the basis that you can’t drink. There are some excellent alcohol-free still and sparkling wines available which taste every bit as good as the real thing. Bees Knees is our favourite champagne taste-a-like, or try one of the alcohol-free spirits, such as Borrago, which works especially well with an aromatic tonic water. Our alcohol-free festive mocktails look really special and slip down a treat!
Stay hydrated. Christmas is tiring, you get out of your normal routines and it’s easy to forget your usual bottle of water. If you’re feeling dizzy, nauseous or have a headache it could simply mean you’re dehydrated, so reach for a glass of water. Add a slice of cucumber, lemon or a couple of strawberries to give your water a boost!
Keeping the weight of your bump supported will make you feel more comfortable and less tired. If you haven’t already discovered the benefits of living in your pregnancy activewear, now is the time to start! FittaMamma maternity leggings hold your bump securely and comfortably and look great teamed with a jumper, a long top or a dress.
Use your fit-ball to sit on whilst you’re watching the Christmas movies – circling your hips on the ball can help alleviate any nagging pregnancy back ache or lean across it for a lovely relaxing back stretch. What’s more you can strengthen your core and work your abs without even noticing it!
Make shopping easy for others. Send a helpful link to a FittaMamma gift voucher and you can choose exactly what you want, in the right size and colour! Our range works just as well after your baby is born too, holding your ‘mummy tummy’ whilst you regain your pre-baby bod.
If you’re close to your due date the chances are that your baby WON’T be born on Christmas Day – statistically fewer babies are born on Christmas Day than on a ‘normal’ day. But that still means around 1400 UK Mammas each year can expect to deliver their baby along with all the presents. The most popular time to give birth is late August and September….nine months after Christmas!
9. It’s hard to resist the temptation to give a Christmas baby a festive name. Holly or Noel maybe? Gabriella, Angelica or Angelina for a girl? Call your son after one of the three wise men, Caspar, Balthazar or Melchior or choose Rudolph after the reindeer. If it’s white Christmas, snow names include Eira (Welsh for ‘snow’), Lumi (‘snow’ in Finnish) or Neives (‘snow’ in Spanish). Or simply ‘Snow’. Gloria is a long-standing Christmas favourite for a girl and Joseph is still a top choice for Christmas boys.
But most importantly (top tip number 10!)
Enjoy a fabulous, fit and healthy Christmas Mammas!
Yoga To Prepare Your Mind & Body For Birth
Prenatal yoga instructor Candace demonstrates some key yoga poses to help prepare your mind and body for the intensity of labour.
However you choose to exercise during pregnancy, we would recommend including regular prenatal yoga – it’s a fantastic way to build strength, stretch and relax your body and mind. Familiarity with some key yoga poses can be hugely beneficial when you give birth too.
Prenatal yoga instructor Candace, who is pregnant herself says ‘Yoga will help prepare you for a powerful yet calm and positive birth experience through strengthening, lengthening and mindfulness techniques. The postures I recommend are great poses to get into during labour, as they provide spinal comfort, hip opening and pelvic release, as well as gravity pull. Choosing a birth position that does not involve lying on your back gives you the benefit of gravity when you birth your baby.’
Below are Candace’s top yoga poses to help with labour
Chair pose is wonderful for teaching body stamina during pregnancy, something we’ll definitely need when giving birth. Stand with your feet hip-distance apart, toes facing forward and bend at the knees – imaging you’re about to sit back onto a sofa (making sure they never exceed the toes). Put most of your weight into the heel of the foot; tuck your tail bone as if you’re trying to get it to look at the floor; hands gently resting on your thighs or at your heart centre in prayer or raised above your head. Keep your gaze straight ahead. This pose can also be done against a wall for extra support if needed… smile and hold for 5 – 10 deep breaths.
Get on your hands and knees, stacking wrists with shoulders and knees with hips. On the exhale, round your back – tucking chin to chest. On the inhale, come into a neutral spine or a gentle back-bend and look up at the sky. This pose helps to release pregnancy back pain. Repeat 5 times or more.
Stand with your feet wider than your hips and toes pointing outwards. Sink low, tucking your tailbone under. Go as deep as possible, opening up through the knees. Hands can rest on thighs, be in cactus or at the heart centre in prayer. Goddess pose is truly one of the best birth training postures you can practice, as it increases strength, stamina, concentration and hip flexibility.
Hold for 5 – 10 long, deep breaths.
Bring the inner soles of your feet together, sit up tall through the spine, finding any movement that feels good. You can gently lean forward or roll from side to side. This pose stretches out the inner thighs and hips, preparing the hips for the deep opening of childbirth. It also releases lower back tension and provides an optimal pelvic tilt.
Candace adds, ‘I would recommend you regularly practise Easy Pose with belly breathing, throughout your pregnancy’. Take a comfortable cross-legged seat, close your eyes and let go of thought.
INHALE slowly and deeply through your nostrils (if possible), filling your belly like a balloon, relaxing the pelvic floor.
Then EXHALE slowly through the nose, contracting and hugging your baby back towards your spine. Lift up through the pelvic floor as you do so, imagining sucking upwards through your pelvis. Repeat 10 times.
Practising this technique every day will prepare a calm mind and a strong yet flexible pelvic floor. It will also strengthen the transverse abdominis, reducing the risk of diastasis recti and pelvic floor weakness.
Enjoy guided yoga with Candace…
Enjoy mommas-to-be, I wish you all a happy, healthy pregnancy and birth! Use #YogaCandi if you’d like to share your prenatal yoga journey with me on social media.
Just remember, we’re all unique. Yoga is a safe and beneficial exercise for pregnant women but pregnancy can come with all sorts of ailments, if you have any concerns, seek advice from your health care provider before taking on any exercise regime.
Love Your Postnatal Pelvic Floor
“How, when and what for exactly” does returning to exercise look like for most women after having a baby? The lovely Clare Maddalena from Lushtums shares her views and advice for postnatal exercise and caring for your pelvic floor
The usual recommendation for postnatal exercise is to wait for 6 weeks post birth if you had a vaginal birth and a whopping 8 weeks if you had a caesarian, but what if you reach these milestones and you’re still not ready?
Let’s face it. There’s a LOT of social pressure out there to be an idealistic super mum. How we look, our attributes, personality, career, how we birth our babies, feed them and then how quickly we get back in shape. It’s LOT to get right – and for most of us simply impossible.
Ok, stop!! Let’s go back to our original question around post birth exercise …that is “how, when and what for exactly” Let’s start with the easiest bit to answer.
Whilst the standard recommendation to safely return to postnatal exercise is around 6 to 8 weeks, the true answer is if you don’t feel ready, give yourself a break! Managing your baby, lifting, stretching …all use up energy and burns up your calories. For many new mums, what’s needed is REST. Pop in moments each day to recharge. Make it part of your routine. Feeding for example should be a chance to sit quietly. Breathe deeply. Ground into wherever you are sitting in the moment (literally become aware of your feet on the ground and your back resting again the chair) and enjoy a very yogic practice of becoming present, becoming mindful. Just BE there. No phones, no distraction. Feeding your baby is the perfect time to develop an inner mindfulness practice, reducing stress and anxiety and helping towards your overall sense of well-being. Slow down and enjoy these moments.
Some of us however will want to return to exercise soon after we’ve had our babies. If you enjoy it, do it! Exercise releases endorphins and that lovely after-glow high, so if this contributes to your overall mental and emotional health (as well as of course physical fitness), go for it! Just be mindful of what we mention next…
So the early days of having a baby is a massive adjustment. But when you are ready, start your postnatal exercise routine by building your foundations first – especially those muscles that have taken most of the load of pregnancy. Yes! We’re talking pelvic floor muscles!
These are part of a group of muscles that provide our deepest core support. And when these are engaged and functioning we feel supported inside and out, helping us physically and contributing to a greater sense of general grounding and wellbeing.
Even just a week after giving birth, you should start finding these muscles again with some super gentle pelvic floor exercises.
Give this a go in a seated position (perhaps while feeding) or when you are resting. Start by exhaling (imagine you are blowing out a candle) and, after a couple of seconds, gently lift your pelvic floor in and up. It feels as if you are trying not to wee or break wind, and ideally you can also feel the walls of the vagina drawing together. Once you get to the end of the exhalation, and you’ve drawn these muscles in and up gently (only using about 3 out of 10 strength wise), then release, relax completely and inhale into a nice soft belly. Repeat. Be cautious, don’t rush to 10 out 10 strength wise, as you’ll actually by-pass the all important pelvic floor and go straight to your 6 pack. In the early stages, until you get this right, less is actually more.
Include several rounds of repetitions into your day. Working well? Now practice doing this breath and holding your pelvic floor to gently brace your core BEFORE you lift anything – whether it’s your baby or a bag of shopping. Remember this helpful mantra, “Lift on the inside first, then lift on the outside”. You can even start to maintain your ‘exhale – and squeeze’ while pushing the buggy out on a walk. Just build it into your normal day and rhythm.
Regular practice before lifting anything or when out walking, will help restore your pelvic floor and your inner core (transverse abs too, so you may feel your tummy gently drawing in) and help prevent much more serious issues such as incontinence and even prolapse.
You should be 100% sure you have regained connection, control and then automatic function of your deep core (including your pelvic floor and transverse abs) and probably worked a bit on your glutes too), before returning to your regular pre-birth activities.
Some of us will get there sooner than others and if you did lots of activity before, your recovery is likely to be quicker. But I truly believe you need to spend the time doing this inner practice to lay the correct foundations.
Well simply put, I have worked with so many women who launched back into their old fitness routine and, while they are fit and strong on the ‘outside’ of their bodies, have totally missed the ‘inner’ work.
I often see fit, active women who, instead of building the foundations first, have gone straight for the walls and the roof: with no supportive foundations to take their load and hold their bodies up, they struggle with incontinence or still have separated tummy muscles long after they’ve given birth.
Running, jumping, sit ups, crunches, planks or squats – all create extra load and extra pressure downward. Only once your deep inner muscles are working appropriately to take that weight and support is it advisable to start a stronger form of exercise.
So the mantra is return to exercise as soon as you feel you comfortably can – the earlier you do, the better it is but get this ground work in first. Then progress with caution, back to a more regular exercise routine.
And lastly, we answer the WHAT FOR EXACTLY part of the question. You are doing this for YOU! No one else. Not for the comparison with celebrities, or even your former pre-baby self. But for YOU. The bit of you that knows deep down she needs to honour herself and her body.
Eat well, MOVE WELL and remember to REST well. It all goes into the mix of helping us feel more whole and complete.
And one final note:
If you’re struggling with prolapse or incontinence, persisting beyond working on your core with these exercises or from attending specialist classes such as postnatal yoga, exercise or Pilates then consult your local Women’s Health experts/physiotherapists/osteopaths. It’s not taboo – loads of women suffer with this – so speak out and go get help!
Pregnancy Exercise Tips From An Olympian
Amy Williams won Britain’s first solo Winter Olympics gold medal for 30 years with victory in the women’s skeleton. Her performance in the Vancouver Olympics projected her into the public view overnight: she was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Honours list and became the first ever female Freeman of the City of Bath.
Since retiring as an athlete she has appeared on many TV shows, including BBC Sport, Ski Sunday and The Gadget Shows.
Already a mum to Oscar (nearly two) Amy is expecting her second baby in June. Her career left her with many injuries, including damaged discs in her lower back and issues with her knees. A real inspirational FittaMamma, she shares her pregnancy exercise ups and downs.
This is your second pregnancy – did you exercise first time round?
‘I exercised throughout my whole first pregnancy. I suffered from pregnancy nausea in the first three months but it wasn’t too bad, and I continued to run several times a week. Around twenty-four weeks pregnant I slowed this down to regular walking as I was really feeling the pressure on my bladder!
My yoga studio is about 2.5 miles from my home but I walked to a yoga class every day – and back! My choice was to carry on with a normal yoga class, adapting a few moves for the baby bump, rather than choosing a specific prenatal yoga class. I also maintained regular sessions on a watt bike, and my own circuit and HITT style sessions at home.
Yoga was a massive help mentally to prepare for birth, I had read up a lot on hypnobirthing and so the breathing and visualisation really helped me remain calm and positive about the birth. In reality I had to be induced and the birth was complicated but I felt physically and mentally prepared for labour’.
How did your injuries impact on your pregnancy and your current pregnancy exercise routine?
‘I’ve become very good at reading my body – I know how it feels, what I need to do to keep my body ticking over and how best to manage my old injuries. Looking after a very energetic toddler keeps me on my toes daily and can be exercise in itself!
However, I do try and do about 3 HIIT sessions a week, bringing Oscar with me, but I’m only managing yoga 1-2 times a month. This pregnancy has been very different as I’ve spent the first 5 months suffering from dizziness, nausea and illness so my pregnancy exercise routine has been greatly reduced compared to the first time around.
I’ve also put a lot of energy into studying as a Personal Trainer and am delighted to have achieved my PT Qualifications! I’m looking forward to setting up my own home gym and taking on clients.’
What does your pregnancy exercise routine look like? Is it an ‘Olympic’ routine or one any Mamma-to-be could emulate?
‘Exercise is really important to me but my routine could easily be followed by other Mammas-to-be! I walk as much as possible each day and try to fit in regular HIIT or body circuit sessions, aiming for at least three times a week. These last between 15 -45 minutes – if you don’t have time for a longer session it’s better to try and fit in a few 15 minute workouts. Stretching is really important too, and I like to include yoga when I have childcare available but attending a regular class has been much more difficult now I have Oscar to look after.
Do you have any advice on maintaining your pregnancy exercise routine whilst managing a toddler?
‘It’s definitely much more difficult, you have to set realistic targets and goals! In Bath there aren’t any gyms with childcare which makes it a lot harder to keep fit with a toddler, so I tend to work out more at home. My recommendation is to lay out a mat and have it ready so you can do whatever you can manage when you have the opportunity, either with a baby next to you, a toddler crawling over you or try and include them in your workout.
I find trying to do a small 10-20min pregnancy workout sessions several times a day is better than aiming for an hour of uninterrupted exercise, which is hard to achieve with a toddler!
I’ve also tried to include an occasional buggy run which is another great way of staying fit with a toddler. I do have to say though, that’s been much harder with this pregnancy as I’ve struggled more with illness. And it’s pretty tough pushing a 15kg toddler up and around the hills of Bath!
My recommendation for pregnancy exercise second time around is aim for little and often!’
And your postnatal workouts after your first baby?
After Oscar was born I really didn’t push my body back into shape for at least 3-4 months. I had a lot of recovery and healing to do and I wanted my body to be strong to look after him. I only felt “myself” again at about 11-12 months post birth. My advice is ‘don’t rush things’.
Are there days when you simply don’t feel like heading to the gym? Could you share your tips for staying motivated to exercise during pregnancy?
Yes! For sure, like everyone exercise is sometimes at the bottom of the list of the things to do that day or week. I’m self-employed as well as being a full time mummy to Oscar – I’ve also been studying for the last 6 months doing my Personal Trainer qualifications, so along with being pregnant there’s a lot to fit in!
It’s hard to not feel guilty, upset or be hard on yourself and your body if you don’t feel like exercising, but sometimes we have to let things go and not be quite in the best shape we want to be. There are always highs and lows of motivation, and fitness levels, especially when you’re pregnant!
Any tips re eating? Have you suffered from morning sickness?
Yes! I’ve suffered from all day sickness on and off for 5 months. This pregnancy I’ve just wanted plain carbs, toast, pasta, potatoes, all the things I wouldn’t normally eat! Sadly my favourite fruits, veg and salads just haven’t been on my menu!!
My recommendation is to eat little and often and always carry water and a snack in your bag.
Thanks Amy ….and you look awesome in your FittaMamma Ultimate gymwear!
10 Superfoods For Pregnancy
You’re eating for two …which doesn’t mean eating twice as much, it means choosing a well-balanced, healthy and nutritious pregnancy diet that will benefit you and your baby. Eating well during pregnancy doesn’t mean you need to seek out unusual ingredients to boost your baby’s brainpower ….there are plenty of easily obtained, inexpensive ‘superfoods for pregnancy’ that you’re probably eating already!
Check out our top ten, readily available superfoods!
Warming and satisfying, oats are like a hug for your pregnant tummy! They are one of the best grains to keep your heart and arteries healthy, helping to maintain circulation and reduce blood pressure during pregnancy. With a low GI they are also a good source of vitamins and minerals including B vitamins, vitamin E, magnesium, calcium and iron.
Don’t overlook the humble egg in your quest for pregnancy superfoods! Ideally packaged to support new life they contain a raft of essential pregnancy nutrients including iron, zinc, B vitamins, vitamins A and D as well as omega-3 fats. Eggs are also a source of vitamins K and D which work together to create strong, healthy bones. They are quick and easy to prepare in a wide variety of dishes, perfect when you need an instant meal.
Remember that rainbow of colours for your superfood pregnancy diet? Peppers are especially rich in Vitamin C with a single serving providing more than your recommended daily intake – choose red and orange peppers for extra Vitamin B6 and essential carotenes. The carotenes in peppers are easier to absorb if the peppers are cooked and eaten with a little olive oil.
Here’s another readily available superfood for pregnancy that you might disregard, especially when there are so many milk alternatives. Unless you have an intolerance to dairy products, remember that a simple glass of milk is packed with valuable nutrients for pregnant mums and is one of the best sources of calcium. Calcium is essential during pregnancy to help your baby build healthy bones and teeth and to ensure your own supplies of calcium aren’t depleted – it’s also vital for muscle, heart and nerve function.
Choose organic milk for an increased level of essential omega-3 fats and to avoid the intake of hormones and antibiotics frequently added to the feed on non-organic farms.
A major source of essential fish oils, the omega-3 in salmon will boost your baby’s brain development – it will also help protect against high blood pressure, depression and is good for your skin. We can’t promise that it will prevent pregnancy stretch marks but it’s likely to help! Salmon is also an excellent source of selenium, protein, niacin, Vitamin B12, magnesium and Vitamin B6.
Farmed salmon is more fatty than wild but more importantly it’s better to go for light poaching or grilling when you cook it – overcooking can oxidise the essential fats.
Packed with essential pregnancy nutrients, the humble cabbage is often spurned in favour of other more insta-friendly veg. Don’t over-cook it, go for stir-fry, steamed or shredded into salad but don’t overlook it either! Cabbage is rich in Vitamin C and calcium, folate, fibre and minerals – it’s also a useful source of Vitamin K, B vitamins and iron.
Chilled cabbage leaves will help sooth engorged breasts when you’re breast feeding.
Readily available on the supermarket shelves, mangoes contain more antioxidant beta-carotene than other fruits (the orange flesh is a giveaway!) and are exceptionally high in essential Vitamin C. They are also rich in potassium which is necessary for regulating your pregnancy blood pressure.
An enzyme found in mangoes can be a soothing digestive aid, which makes them ideal the ideal superfood choice if you are suffering from pregnancy heartburn.
Lentils are one of the few pulses that don’t need soaking before you cook them and can be added to soups and stews for added iron and fibre – they combine both soluble and insoluble fibre for a double whammy of digestive goodness. Iron-rich, lentils are also high in zinc, useful in pregnancy to boost your immune system and build up your baby’s immune system too!
Coconut water is the clear liquid that you find in a young coconut – not to be confused with coconut milk. Drink it chilled on its own or add it to a smoothie – it is the ideal superfood drink to rehydrate after your pregnancy workout or exercise as it is a natural isotonic drink, readily absorbed by your body. Unlike many manufactured sports drinks, it is low in calories and contains a raft of essential minerals including calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium.
Historically ginger has long had a reputation as a healthy food: aside from its anti-cancer properties, it is a powerful anti-inflammatory and may also ease migraines. As a pregnancy superfood it is a fantastic remedy for nausea and morning sickness.
Buy fresh ginger root and use it flavour stir fry vegetables, chicken and fish dishes or to make crispy ginger biscuits to nibble. Make a soothing and delicious ginger drink by combining freshly grated ginger with lemon juice, honey and hot water.
Postnatal Exercises to Tone Your Bottom Muscles
Pre and postnatal fitness expert Vicky Warr shares more exercises to help back ache and get a perter bottom after you’ve had your baby.
Vicky says, ‘While strengthening the muscles of your core is important, you also need to strengthen the powerhouse muscles that surround your pelvis. The glutes (bottom muscles) are the ‘forgotten core’. They hold our pelvis level and steady, extend the hip to move us forwards and keep our pelvis, legs and torso aligned. When your joints are more susceptible after birth due to the pregnancy hormones, strengthening these muscles with isolation exercises along with your core will help reduce the risk of injury or pain when you walk or go back to running.’
Practice these postnatal exercises regularly: combine them with Vicky’s recommended exercises for after your baby is born (you’ll find them in last month’s Active for Two).
Exercise 1: The Bridge
This exercise strengthens the deep muscles of the bottom which are also part of your core as a strong bottom helps with back ache and give you better posture.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and hip width apart, your feet flat on the floor and your arms flat on the floor by your sides. As in the pelvic tilt exercise you should have a very small gap between the floor and your lower back.
- Breathe out and squeeze your bottom muscles together then lift your hips up pushing into the heels of your feet and the backs of your upper arms (triceps).
- Hold this position for 2 seconds then lower your hips to the floor, stopping when you are half way down to the floor, then lift your hips back up again.
Repeat 10-12 times
- On the last repetition, keep your hips high and pulse up and down by just 2cms for 12 pulses.
Then repeat the single raises in steps 1-2 for another set of 10-12.
Exercise 2: The Clam
Helps to reduce aches and pains by strengthening your core and lower back muscles. It also helps improve balance in the leg and hip muscles and pelvis to reduce the risk of falls.
Lie right down on your right side, with your legs straight and your right arm straight out on the floor. Place your right hand just behind the back of your head so just your upper arm is on the floor. Bend your knees bringing them in front of your hips with your feet behind and top of each other. Your hips and knees should be stacked on top of each other. Place your left hand on your left hip.
- Breathe out and lift the top, left, knee up, toward the ceiling, keeping the heels and toes of your feet together and the hips still and facing forwards, with your top hip directly on top of the hip closer to the floor.
- Breathe in and lower the left knee back to meet the right knee.
Repeat 10-12 times.
Then switch sides to lie on your left side and repeat the same action lifting your right knee.
Repeat 10-12 times.
Then switch to your right side, repeating the exercise again for another set of 10-12 on your right side before switching to the left.
To Tighten and Tone Your Tummy
Abdominal separation or Diastasis Recti can occur in about 60% of pregnancies. It is where the connective tissue gets stretched and thins as the mothers’ belly grows during pregnancy. Often it heals after birth and in the first few weeks but with some women it remains for a year after birth. It’s often described as a ‘kangeroo pouch’ or ‘pooched tummy’.
The Exercise: Head Lift
Strengthens your core, helps heal abdominal separation (diastasis recti) and bring your tummy muscles back together.
Lie on your back with your legs straight out in a v-shape, placing your hands by your either sides of your ears.
- Breathe in, then breathe out deeply and draw your belly button inwards towards your spine and lift your head and shoulders gently, with your chin towards your chest.
- Hold for 2 seconds, breathing in and out, then lower your head and shoulders back to the floor.
Repeat 10-12 times.
The Exercise: The March
Strengthens and tones the core muscles, the lower tummy and pelvic floor muscles.
Start resting on your knees and hands with your shoulders over your wrists and hands flat on the floor and your knees about hip width apart on the floor, directly under your knees. Look down to the floor at the space in between your hands.
- Breathe out and draw your belly button inwards and upwards towards your spine and lift your right hand and your left knee up about 2 cms off the floor. It is a very small move.
- Lower both your right hand and left knee back to the floor as you breathe in.
Repeat this 15 times, then switch to doing the same action lifting your left hand and right knee, 15 times too.
Bonus 10 Minute Video!
Watch this short video to help you tone your bottom after having a baby.
Check out the postnatal exercise tips from Vicky Warr that featured in last month’s Active For Two.
About the Author
Vicky Warr has over 18 year’s experience in the fitness industry, a pregnancy and postnatal fitness specialist and health coach and founder of Bump and Beyond by Vicky Warr.
Check out her Online Health and Fitness Studio and get started with LIVE postnatal video classes at home, 30 Day Challenges with Videos and healthy, quick recipes the whole family will love at: www.bumpandbeyond.club
These tips and exercises are suitable for you whether you had a c-section or more straight forward birth. Just be sure to have had your postnatal medical check before doing these exercises.