Yoga – Ease Your Pregnancy Ailments
For all the talk of that famous pregnancy ‘glow’, there are plenty of days when it can feel pretty elusive.
Due to hormonal changes and the extra strain on your body, there are some less enjoyable side effects of pregnancy that affect many women.
Prenatal yoga expert Claire Maddalena, founder of LushTums, discusses how practicing yoga during pregnancy, combined with some simple changes to diet and lifestyle can help alleviate the symptoms of some common pregnancy ailments.
‘Not only does prenatal yoga keep you strong and fit and help you relax, it gives your immune system a real boost”, explains Clare. ‘Practising yoga when you’re pregnant can provide relief for lots of ailments, from indigestion and heartburn to sciatica.’
Indigestion and Heartburn:
Try adopting a ‘little and often’ approach to eating, rather than sticking to three meals a day. Make an effort to eat slowly, and try sitting in a kneeling pose during and after meals (you can just place a rolled up blanket underneath your thighs). It will help to lengthen your torso and stretch key pressure points in the thighs, creating more space and aiding digestion.
Drinking peppermint tea or hot water with a squeeze of lemon will also help.
Yoga poses where you kneel, or gentle heart and chest opening moves, will make even more space around the top of the tummy. Try inhaling as the arms come up to stretch the lungs and ribs and lift the heart further.
We know it’s tough when your bump already makes you feel as if you permanently need the loo, but keeping hydrated is key to help keep headaches at bay. Drink plenty of water throughout the day, or try coconut water (which is also a great source of potassium, helpful if you are suffering from leg cramps or swelling).
Deep breathing exercises also help with headaches. In this video Clare takes you through alternate nostril breathing, which helps when you have a headache, but also you are feeling anxious or overwhelmed. And as with any other concerns during pregnancy, if you are suffering from headaches do make sure you mention it to your midwife, especially if your vision is affected.
As your baby grows your uterus can press against the sciatic nerve, causing you to experience pain in your lower back or bottom, or a shooting pain down your legs, often just down one side. Pregnancy sciatica is most common during the third trimester: weight gain and fluid retention can add to the pressure, or your baby can change position, pressing their head against the nerve- it can be very painful! Try massaging your bottom by sitting on a tennis ball or check out this video where Clare shows you some easy to follow yoga movements that can help.
Frequently needing the loo, difficulty turning over, snoring partners… many things can interrupt a good night’s sleep during pregnancy. For the best chance of a restful night avoid caffeine and sugar after 5pm and try to reduce your screen time in the evening (exposure to blue light disrupts sleeping patterns and reduces sleep quality). Chamomile tea can help and try adding lavender oil to your bath or use a lavender pillow spray. If you’re having difficulty sleeping, the alternate nostril breathing sequence will help you find calm as you concentrate on the breath. Or get in to the habit of listening to one of the guided meditations on the LushTums website in bed each night to help you drift off.
Backache in pregnancy is often due to changes to your posture as the pregnancy hormone relaxin loosens your ligaments and the weight of the baby causes the back of your waist to arch more. Try to stand tall, with a slight bend in the knees to release the pressure on your lower back, and wear supportive clothes to help support the weight of your bump. Making little circles with the pelvis and rocking movements to tilt the tail bone under and back will help realign your pelvis and ease back ache.
If you’re still working at a desk, sitting on a birthing ball will help ease the pressure, and at the end of the day treat yourself to a warm bath. Regular pregnancy yoga is really beneficial for those who suffer from back pain, and some of the poses on all fours can really help. In this video Clare takes you through some yoga poses to try to help with this.
Making the time go to a yoga class, with the chance to prioritise your own needs is also hugely important. It’s a good way to learn techniques and tools to use at home to help you to relax, stretch out any aching limbs, get a more restful night’s sleep and generally promote a feeling of wellbeing.
LushTums is the UK’s leading expert in pregnancy and postnatal yoga and antenatal education; offering pregnancy yoga, birth preparation, postnatal yoga for mum and baby and women’s yoga classes across the UK. Check to see if they have a class near you. LushTums also offer teacher training, offering women the chance to create their own successful local LushTums franchise.
Find out more about training by clicking https://www.lushtums.co.uk/franchise-opportunity/
How can I exercise when I’m breastfeeding?
Midwife Jane Mason of the Natural Birthing Company shares her top tips about getting back into exercise when you’re breastfeeding.
If you’ve exercised during your pregnancy, the chances are you’ll be looking forward to getting back to exercise after your baby is born….but very likely your breasts will be front and foremost in your concerns about hitting the gym.
Jane says, ‘In the early days of breastfeeding your breasts may well feel huge with a mind of their own when it comes to leaking. Very likely you’re also encountering sore nipples or engorgement as well, but don’t panic! As your baby becomes established at breastfeeding and you start to develop a feeding routine, your breasts should start to feel more comfortable.
Exercising won’t affect either the amount or quality of your milk supply so here’s some tips about getting back into fitness as a breastfeeding Mamma:
- Buy a new sports bra to support your new sized breasts during exercise as well as reducing the risk of stretch marks, improving posture and helping to alleviate back pain. Don’t be tempted to use an old sports bra that is a bit too tight now as this can cause mastitis.
- For maximum comfort always exercise AFTER a breastfeed. This way your breasts are empty and, knowing your baby is fed will make it easier to relax and enjoy your postnatal exercise session.
- Another option is to express your milk prior to exercising. The best time to introduce your baby to taking your expressed breast milk from a bottle is around 2-3 weeks old. Any sooner and there’s a risk you’ll confuse them with the art of breastfeeding (it’s a different sucking action); any later and you may well struggle because baby is so used to your breast that he or she won’t entertain a bottle in their mouths!
- If you want to breastfeed your baby straight after exercising bear in mind your skin is likely to be sweaty. If your baby seems a bit overly fussy they may not like the salty taste so give your breast a quick wipe to remove the sweat.
- If you love high intensity exercise it’s worth knowing that whilst lactic acid does not increase in your breast milk during moderate exercise (50-75% intensity), it does increase in exhaustive exercise (100% intensity) and is present for around 90 minutes post-exercise before it decreases naturally again. There are no known harmful effects for the baby after drinking breast milk with increased lactic acid, so it’s completely up to you if you want to feed them during this period although it may affect the taste for them.
- Don’t forget to pop a couple of soft breast pads into your sports bra, not only to catch any leaks but also to help prevent your nipples chaffing (add a touch of nipple balm too for added protection!)
I hope this has given you some reassurance that exercising as a new Mammas is completely possible, just remember to take your time and listen to your body.
Natural Birthing Company’s products support you in pregnancy, labour and in life as a new Mamma. Our range includes postnatal products to comfort and promote healing of your perineum and well as breastfeeding oils to comfort engorgement, low milk supply or sore nipples.
FittaMamma founder Alexandra says ‘Until you start breastfeeding it’s difficult to understand just how many changes your girls go through over such a short period of time, whether it’s too much milk, too little milk or just generally feeling tender and sore. Ooh, aah and ouch sums up exactly how they feel! These oils smell amazing and are really soothing…..I love these products!’
Shop them here!
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The three stages of pregnancy yoga
Pregnancy is probably the most profound psychological and physical transformation your body will undergo. As well as being a time of joy and delight, pregnancy can also be time of anxiety, not to mention physical discomfort and emotional adjustment.
We asked Maria, from Pommama, who have a network of prenatal yoga teachers in London to share how yoga can help guide you through pregnancy, keeping your body and mind in balance as well as a preparing you mentally and physically for labour.
Maria writes: ‘Your body is in constant change as it goes through the different stages of pregnancy and so should your practice. It’s vitally important to be able to adjust your prenatal yoga practice to your ever-changing mind and growing body.
Let’s look at the three key stages women go through in pregnancy when it comes to their yoga practice. Medical professionals generally advise avoiding yoga before 12 to 14 weeks.
We suggest 3 key stages for your yoga practice during pregnancy based on bodily and mind changes as you go through the different trimesters.
Stage 1: 14 – 22 weeks pregnant
An active pregnancy yoga flow should focus on creating space in hips and pelvis, prepping for a bigger belly and shifting awareness to changes in the body.
At 14 weeks, nausea usually subsides and energy levels return. You can feel more energetic than ever before and although your body gradually starts changing, you are probably keen to move. We recommend a dynamic flow yoga practice for the next six to eight weeks, allowing you to embrace the return of your energy. You may not notice a huge difference in your body shape, but certain modifications are needed to accommodate the growing baby.
At this stage you have a little surge of energy, any nausea may be subsiding, your pelvis is shifting slightly so you will need to make small adjustments such as standing with your feet hip-width apart rather than together. You can definitely feel the changes in your body, but you don’t have a big belly yet, especially if it’s your first child, so you are not really hindered in your movement.
Stage 2: 22-32 weeks pregnant
You’ll need to start modifying your prenatal yoga flow to take into account your growing belly and tightness in the shoulders and back.
As your pregnancy moves into the second trimester you’ll begin to feel a little heavier. You can still do a flow class, but in much more mindful and slower mode. In your practice, you’ll need to be more observant and not push yourself while stretching, twisting and back bending. Focus on key areas such as shoulders, back and pelvic region. Poses need to be modified to take into account your growing belly and you’ll start using props to support certain poses.
Your growing belly and boobs mean that all the weight is now forward and as a result your shoulders and back can start to tighten. You hunch more and the ‘duck waddle’ starts to happen. The lower back is doing a lot more so you’ll need to focus on shoulder opening and back strengthening with bolsters and blocks to support you.
Stage 3: 32 weeks onwards
In the final weeks of your pregnancy you’ll need to focus more on breathing and connecting to the baby, prepping mentally for birth.
Preparing for birth, both mentally and physically is the key at this time. Deep, nurturing breathing, tension releasing movements and mind-calming meditation help you prepare for the birth of your baby. Although you can (and should, if you have no medical issues) still move at this stage, setting intentions, sending love and devotion to your baby, visualizing the new life inside you and learning to keep calm with breathing are top priority.
Your belly is pretty big, you are in your final weeks of pregnancy but you are still not completely static. Your energy levels start to drop again at this point. The third trimester is much more internal; it’s a time to focus more on breathing and connecting to your baby with lots of hands on belly, affirmations and setting intentions. By this point, the baby is kicking and you really feel like it’s happening. The ligaments are getting softer. Be especially careful with the stretches at this point, because you can overstretch.
Listen to your body as you will feel different from day to day and from class to a class.
Do bear in mind the following while practicing prenatal yoga:
- Do not compress the abdominal or pelvis
- Avoid bouncing
- Don’t overstretch
- Avoid backbends, except for modified Cobra and Bridge
- Never allow breathing to become strained
- Reduce the width between feet when doing wide legged postures
- No unmodified inversions unless experienced
Pommama is a network of pregnancy yoga teachers in Central London bringing specialist antenatal yoga to you, wherever you are – at home, in the office, at any time of day. At Pommama, our aim is to help make your journey through pregnancy life-enhancing and enjoyable. For more information and tips please visit www.pommama.com
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When can I get back to the gym after giving birth?
We asked midwife Jane Mason, founder of the Natural Birthing Company for her tips on getting back in to exercise after your baby is born.
Your bundle of joy has arrived and you are getting to grips with being a new mum, but if you’re used to fitness and exercise in your life you may be desperate to get back out there. We’re all agreed that regular exercise can help you to relax, feel more energetic and obviously keep you fit – but in the early days of Mammahood it can also help your body to recover from childbirth and may help prevent postnatal depression.
So let’s look at when and how you can start exercising after birth.
When can I start to exercise after birth?
The best time to start exercising after birth depends on how your baby was born. If you had a straightforward vaginal birth, you can start gentle exercise as soon as you feel ready, building up to introduce high-impact exercise after your 6 week postnatal check. If you normally exercised regularly prior to giving birth and you feel fit and well you may well be able to start sooner – but don’t rush it!
Be realistic and patient, gradually increasing your activity and listening to your body along the way. If you are unsure or had a more complicated birth such as a Caesarean Section, third/fourth degree tear, large blood loss etc. it’s best to check with your Midwife, Health Visitor or GP who can advise according to your own circumstances.
What do I need to be mindful of when starting to exercise?
It took 40 weeks to develop your pregnant body and it will take just as long to fully return to your pre-pregnancy physical self. Even if you manage to get straight back into your jeans after birth (and not many of us do!) your body is undergoing a lot of changes during this time. Bear in mind:
- Your core muscles (lower back, abdominal and pelvic floor) will be weaker than they used to be.
- Your ligaments and joints remain more supple and pliable for up to 6 months, so it’s easier to injure yourself.
- Your iron levels may well have dropped as a result of birth which can leave you feeling easily tired, so pace yourself and get plenty of rest too. (See you Midwife or GP if you are breathless, dizzy or tired from normal daily activities)
- If your lochia (postnatal vaginal bleeding) gets heavier or changes colour to become more red after activity, then this is a sign you are overdoing it, so slow down!
What’s the best postnatal exercise to start with?
Pelvic floor exercises are the best postnatal exercises to start with and these can be done as soon as you feel able after birth. The exercises will help to heal any perineal trauma (episiotomies, tears, grazes, swelling) as well as toning your pelvic floor to protect you from issues such as:
- Loss of bladder and/or bowel control
- Pelvic organ prolapse
- Reduced sensation or satisfaction during sex
To check if you’re doing them right here’s a link to a leaflet written by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy and the Royal College of Midwives.
Gentle stretching is also great in the early days to help relieve any muscular discomfort that can result from labour or adopting a tense position whilst breastfeeding. If your birth resulted in spending prolonged time in bed, simple stretches will help you feel better in both body and mind.
If your baby is fit and well there is no reason why you can’t both head out for a walk as soon as you feel able; consider the pram as a new piece of exercise equipment to push! Gentle walks in the early days will help to blow the cobwebs away, the fresh air will do both you and baby good. When you feel ready to walk further, take routes that involve you walking up gradients, or increase your pace.
Remember to keep your back straight and have the pram handles at the correct height (your elbows should be bent at right angles).
Swimming is another great gentle exercise to get you moving as it supports your weight and therefore has low impact on your joints. It’s important to wait until a week after your lochia has finished and your stitches have healed.
When your Midwife is pressing your abdomen during your postnatal checks she’s not only feeling where your uterus is but also if you have any separation of your abdominal muscles (diastasis recti) specifically the rectus abdominals or your six-pack muscles. Diastasis recti is very common but if it is very severe you may need to work with a physiotherapist to help draw the muscles back together. Getting your abdominal tone back is crucial to your core strength and provides essential support for your back, which is put through its paces as a new mum – but be careful not to overdo your abdominal exercises and avoid deep twisting poses which can inhibit the muscles from repair. If you are concerned about a gap in your abdominal muscles speak to your Midwife or GP.
I hope this has given you some reassurance that exercising as a new mum is completely possible – just make sure you take your time and listen to your body.
Natural Birthing Company’s products support you in pregnancy, labour and in life as a new Mamma. The range includes postnatal products to comfort and promote healing of your perineum and well as breastfeeding oils to comfort engorgement, low milk supply or sore nipples.
USE OUR EXCLUSIVE CODE FIT10 TO ENJOY A 10% DISCOUNT* ON ANY PURCHASE FROM NATURAL BIRTHING COMPANY ONLINE SHOP.
If you are unsure about anything or have any concerns whilst pregnant or as a new mum please speak to your Midwife or GP.
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Second time around things are always easier….or are they?
Maeve Kenny is a Fitness Lecturer at the University College Dublin; she’s also the founder of Hissy Fit which provides corporate and private wellness courses, including Running Clubs, Pilates and Bootcamps.
She says ‘Being asked to write an article is always a privilege, it gives me an opportunity to reflect on the topic and allows me to share some of my own experiences that will hopefully help or maybe even inspire those who read it.’
Maeve writes: ‘Fitness is a huge part of my life. I have always been passionate about training and leading a healthy life. Training is hugely important to me both personally and professionally.’
In August last year Maeve, who already had one child, suffered a miscarriage at 12 weeks. She continues, ‘It was a very difficult time and an awful shock. You never think that it will happen to you. After the miscarriage I decided that I needed a new focus and it became a 5km running event with my running club Hissy Fit Runners. This may sound simplistic, but it was the time spent training with amazing people, being outdoors and getting my body moving again which really helped me mentally, and within 6 weeks we were pregnant again! We feel very blessed by how lucky we were but I firmly believe that exercise is one of life’s most natural medicines and it can heal and work wonders.
When I learned I was expecting for the third time I knew my pregnancy fitness regime would be modified to some extent, and this time round it came a lot sooner than my previous pregnancy.
Obviously staying fit is incredibly important to me at all times, so being pregnant is no different. When I was pregnant with my first child I was so eager to keep going at everything. I ran and practiced Pilates till I was 8.5 months pregnant – whilst I did feel good most of the time doing it also put me under a lot of pressure to keep it up. I felt I needed to be an example and prove that I could do everything.
After my little boy was born I returned to training far too early. I didn’t allow my body to rest and heal and I pushed myself to try and get back to my previous fitness level. I wanted to do it all, be the best mum, run a business and be back running Personal Bests but the pressure resulted in Post Natal Depression which I suffered for over a year. This was a very difficult diagnosis to swallow. I never imagined I was someone who would ‘get’ PND? I must have had grandiose ideas of who I was, Post Natal Depression can happen to anyone. Especially as first-time mum’s we are so vulnerable after a baby is born. It’s all new and a major transition in life. We need time to adapt and realise that this little being will change our lives forever.
As difficult as it was, I think it has been a real learning time for me and a very humbling experience.
Moving on from PND the possibility of having another baby was both daunting and scary but also there was an excitement and a yearning to learn from the mistakes I had made last time round.
I knew this pregnancy was going to be very different for me. Of course I would always strive to keep healthy and fit but instead of allowing my head to dictate my training programs I listened more closely to my body. At just 5 months into the pregnancy I felt that running was no longer comfortable. It pained me to stop and hang up the running shoes so early but I realised that I would not put myself through the same pressure I did before. Instead I decided to research and find alternative exercises to keep me on track.
Teaching and practicing Pilates has been fantastic, however with the growing bump it has its limitations, (my little bub is sitting low and dictating my range of movement) but that’s ok, I am delighted to be able to keep going comfortably without the pressure.
Pilates is one of those fantastic exercise regimes that is gentle and safe for pregnancy. Taking a class with an instructor who is aware of the changes and knows how to look after you and your growing baby will have fantastic benefits.
Regular, gentle stretching, is keeping me mobile and will also really help in the preparation for labour. There is a lot of focus on the baby generating force and ‘pushing’ it’s way out, however as mother’s we can help this transition by opening up the pelvis and practicing some pre-labour exercises that will help the baby rotate and navigate its way into the world.
Exercising in pregnancy is fantastic, but it’s ok to scale it back and also to rest. Be kind to yourself and conscious that you’re creating a new little person which is amazing! I choose to exercise differently and yet I still feel the benefits. I’ve exchanged running for walking. Gentle Pilates and focusing on the best stretches and exercises for labour.
But however you adapt your exercise routine, it IS important to stay active. I will still need to keep up with my amazing little toddler AND manage a new born baby, my fit pregnancy will benefit ALL of us!’
10 Ways To Boost Your Active Pregnancy
There are sooo many benefits to exercising during pregnancy. Women who stay fit when pregnant experience fewer niggles and discomforts – that nagging pregnancy backache can be eased by stretching and toning your muscles; your circulation will improve, making you less prone to varicose veins; you’re less likely to pile on unwanted pregnancy pounds and women who exercise when pregnant experience shorter labours and speedier recovery times. Oh and that’s not to mention the feel good endorphins lifting your mood and make it easier to sleep.
And if that’s not enough of an incentive for a fit pregnancy, research has shown that babies born to mums who exercise are leaner (that’s a polite way of saying not so chubby) and smarter, responding more quickly when it comes to learning.
Experts agree that all healthy pregnant women should aim for at least 30 minutes exercise a day, ideally for at least five days a week. It’s not a lot – but sometimes it’s hard to get going!
We’ve come up with our top ten tips for a fit pregnancy without trying too hard…
- Walk more. It’s free, easy and doesn’t require any training or special equipment. Thirty minutes brisk walking will raise your heartbeat and, if the sun’s shining you can enjoy an extra dose of Vitamin D too. Leave the car behind, get off the bus a few stops too soon or fit in a stroll at lunchtime instead of lingering over a cup of tea and a magazine.
- See the stairs as part of your exercise routine. There are workout machines in the gym that emulate climbing up stairs. You could just climb up the stairs. Change your leading leg, change your pace and if there’s an option to take a lift – walk up the stairs instead.
- Don’t abandon your bike just because you’re pregnant. Cycling is a great low impact exercise for pregnant women as well as a cheap and readily available form of transport.
- Dance more. Turn up the music and dance at home. Studies have shown that babies in the womb respond to music – try it with your baby! Check out this video from lovely fitness instructor Lottie.
- Buy a fit ball. A fitball is a great way to exercise your abs and your core, even if all you do is sit on it whilst you’re watching TV or using your computer. And if you want some more exercises we have some lovely easy to follow fit ball exercises for pregnant women. You can use it as a birthing ball during labour too!
- Take the kids to the park. More tricky if this is your first baby but maybe you can borrow some small people! Keeping kids active whilst you stay active yourself is win win all round – you’re maintaining your fit pregnancy and they’re getting the exercise habit early!
- If you’re still working and sat at a desk all day, take time to stretch and move. There are a number of pregnancy yoga poses that will ease tension in your shoulders and open up your chest and whilst they might not take half an hour they’ll make you feel better.
- Swimming. If you’re not used to exercising the swimming pool is a good place to start as it’s low impact and the water supports your bump. If you’re feeling heavy on land you’ll be surprised how easy it is to move in the water – and how good you’ll feel afterwards.
- Don’t forget your pelvic floor – you can exercise your core muscles and pelvic floor any time, any place – trust us, you’ll be glad you did! Squeeze and lift Mammas!
- Need more guidance to get you started? Our trimester specific pregnancy workouts will give you a 30 minute exercise routine that you can follow at home. Prenatal fitness instructor Natasha will take you through a full sequence specially designed for pregnancy exercise.
And finally! Supporting your bump and looking good in maternity fitnesswear is a great incentive for your fit pregnancy – if you look good, you’ll feel good too. Take a look at our maternity fintesswear range, designed to support your bump, back and boobs so you can exercise with style and confidence throughout your pregnancy and after your baby is born.
He’s Here! – Alexandra McCabe
FittaMamma founder Alexandra McCabe is delighted to announce the birth of baby Ben, the latest addition to FittaMamma HQ!
We’ve been in contact with many FittaMammas who shared stories of enjoying a workout in the morning and giving birth in the afternoon or even the woman who successfully completed the Chicago marathon in 2011 and went straight from the finishing line to the maternity hospital. They are truly inspirational and part of me wanted the final chapter of my fit pregnancy to be a ‘gym to delivery room’ story.
But actually, in the final days I recognised that what my body needed was more rest and that this was ok too.
I did however head out for a walk on my due date. I wasn’t up for more strenuous exercise but I’m not that good at simply putting my feet up! It was more of a gentle stroll to be honest, including stopping to ‘enjoy the view’ on a modest incline that my former, non pregnant, self would have barely noticed but it was good to get out, move and stretch.
Much to my surprise, the labour pains kicked in that evening. I’d even booked a final pregnancy massage for the following morning as a pre-baby treat. The idea that he should defy his father’s genetics and arrive on time had never occurred to me.
So. How was the labour?
First point. Everything we’ve written on FittaMamma.com about labour being the most physically demanding event your body will encounter is all true.
Second point. All the advice we offer about building up your strength and stamina is also all true. Not only do you need the physical strength to deal with the contractions and push your baby into the world, as soon as he’s born he’ll be looking to you to care for his every need… and that takes a lot of stamina. I felt as if I’d been congratulated for running a marathon and then informed that my post-event recovery amounted to a cup of tea and a twenty minute nap.
Baby Ben was born with me kneeling up over the end of the bed. He came too quickly for me to make it to the planned birthing pool. At 8lb 3ozs he was big but lean and within hours of his birth he was moving his head and looking around, alert and surprisingly perky.
Things I was glad to have in the delivery room.
Everybody laughed when I packed a watermelon in my hospital bag but honestly it’s the ultimate combo of hydration and energy. Little chunks of watermelon delivered in between contractions were an absolute winner and I ate the rest almost as soon as he was born. Perfect for muscle recovery and boosting my circulation!
Coconut water. More energy than tap water. I drank 1.5 litres without even noticing, it’s so important to stay hydrated.
Massage oil and someone to rub into the EXACT spot on my lower back where the contractions hurt most. I used Motherly Love labour oil – it smells good and feels even better.
FittaMamma exercise pants. Not DURING the delivery obviously. But was I glad to have my mummy tummy and lower back supported straight afterwards. The most comfortable postnatal garment in my wardrobe. Luckily I have more than one pair!
Things no-one told me about
Delivering the placenta. Yes, yes, I knew this happened. But not that it was so huge!
Postnatal uterine contractions. I’m delighted that my uterus is contracting back to something approaching normality and I guess in hindsight it makes sense that this is an actual physical process. But couldn’t someone have warned me that it hurts? I think someone vaguely referred to ‘after pains’ but not that these are actually very intense and frequently triggered by him feeding.
And finally (this is a good one!)… the rush of overwhelming love and emotion for the very small human being that has come into our lives. No-one told me I could happily spend ages simply admiring the particularly special way his mouth moves when he’s asleep!!!
Now we’re back home and it’s time to learn how to juggle my beautiful, vibrant ACTUAL baby, with the business I’ve been calling my ‘baby’ for the last few years.
We’re looking forward to it!
The Last Few Weeks – Alexandra McCabe
FittaMamma Founder Alexandra McCabe is in the final trimester of her pregnancy. She shares her pregnant exercise routine and trying to reach her feet!
Despite having been so involved with health and well-being in pregnancy, for such a long time, the reality of being pregnant myself has flagged up so many surprises, not least of which is the inaccessibility of my feet. Lacing up my trainers has become an exercise in itself!
Maybe the biggest surprise is just how strange it feels to have a near full-term baby moving inside you. Of course, I’m delighted by the constant reminders that he’s alive and kicking, I love feeling the increasing strength of those shifts and movements. But why is he so vigorous at two in the morning?
What hasn’t been a surprise is how much better I feel for exercising during my pregnancy. Some days it’s been more of a challenge to head to the gym, but once I’m there I’m always so glad I made the effort.
My regular pregnancy exercise routine remains a mixture of cardio fitness and weight training. I have continued to follow the FittaMamma guidelines of lighter weights and increased repetitions, maintaining my strength without over-exerting. Right now, I’m very glad of my strong legs and back as the weight of my baby increases and am sure I’ll be glad of the strength in my upper body when my baby arrives, and I’ll be lifting and carrying him every day.
The cross-trainer and static bike have been my ‘go to’ for cardio fitness throughout my pregnancy, it’s easy to fit in a few 20-minute sessions as part of my regular gym routine. I love the idea that getting the blood pumping around my body improves the flow of oxygen to my baby and he often becomes more active himself when I exercise.
I’ve also introduced an element of Tabata Training, high intensity interval training in 4-minute bursts. You push yourself to the limit for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds and complete 8 rounds …four minutes in total. I find it a great workout if I’m pushed for time and whilst it’s not something that we’ve flagged up as being a useful exercise routine for pregnant women, it works for me!
A combination of Christmas, a bout of flu and some terrible weather did keep me indoors more than I would have ideally liked but our own FittaMamma pregnancy workouts with the lovely Natasha Brown, kept me moving!
In the last few weeks of pregnancy exercise, I’ve joined a prenatal yoga class. With a LushTums class close to home it’s been a complete change from my more dynamic pregnancy workouts. Yoga is such a great way to relax and give some time to allow my body stretch out in preparation for labour – and I’m sure the calming breathing exercises will be really beneficial during the birth too. There’s also been a strong emphasis on pelvic floor exercises ….lift and squeeze, Mammas!!!
Pregnancy diet update
With baby taking up so much space, there doesn’t seem to be quite so much room in my stomach for proper meals any more – so it’s little and often. Especially nuts. They’re little and I eat them often, spreading pistachio nut shells all over my desk and snacking on walnuts and almonds, barely noticing the volumes I’ve consumed until the bag is empty. Fortunately, nuts have many nutritional benefits during pregnancy! They’re a useful source of protein (especially when eaten in large quantities!!!); walnuts contain vital omega3 and almonds are a good source of calcium.
I often make up a green smoothie with fresh vegetables and fruit, and add in some oats to give an extra boost of slow release energy – I’m planning to take one with me to the hospital when the time comes. Nutritious, delicious and easy to digest….and soooo green!
And what am I wearing?
You’ve guessed it! It’s so satisfying to experience the comfort and fit of our range for myself – not just for exercise (and needless to say, my pregnancy workout clothes have attracted many a positive comment in the gym!) but for everyday support as well.
Just a few more weeks to go! It’s very exciting! I’ll keep you posted.
Warm Up This Winter
Too cold to go out? ❄️ Warm up and workout indoors.
Frost, rain or winter chills, enjoy a pregnancy workout from the comfort of your own front room!
Warming up is even more important when you’re exercising whilst pregnant, stretching your muscles, gradually increasing your heart rate and improving your circulation. Avoid over-stretching as the pregnancy hormone relaxin loosens the ligaments in your joints and can make you more susceptible to injury.
Prenatal fitness expert Kimmy shares her favourite warm up exercises for mums-to-be. These are ideal if you’re working out at home… and just as useful in the gym or before a run.
Rotation through the lower spine:
- Standing in a soft short ‘lunge position’, with your front knee bent
- Twist your body round with your arms swinging
Aim for at least 10 rotations
- Keep your feet in a wide stance facing forward, with your knees slightly bent, hands on hips
- Rotate your hips in circular clockwise direction for ten rotations
- Repeat in the opposite directions for ten rotations
Repeat 10 times
Side stretch bend:
- Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip width apart
- Lift your right arm above your head and lean over with your left arm travelling down your leg
- Look up to your hand and stretch, bending your arm if this gives you a deeper stretch
Swap sides and repeat on each side 12- 15 times
March on the spot:
- With your feet hip width apart and soft knees march on the spot
- Include your arms to really loosen up all your muscles and get the blood pumping around your body
- Keep going for 30 seconds, pause for 10 seconds and repeat again!
Repeat 3 times
For more prenatal warm up exercises from Kimmy and a safe pregnancy workout to improve your core strength download our free Ebook.
We’ll keep you posted with regular tips for your fit and healthy pregnancy too 😊
Ten ways to enjoy Fit-mas!
TO ENJOY CHRISTMAS (AND STAY HEALTHY) WHEN YOU’RE PREGNANT
Don’t be daunted by Christmas! Your burgeoning baby bump shouldn’t detract from your enjoyment of the festive season. Share our top ten tips about how to enjoy a healthy, active festive season:
- Strictly speaking browsing around the shops buying presents doesn’t count as cardio-exercise but nevertheless you’re on your feet, walking and staying active. Don’t leave your leggings in your gym bag – keep the weight of your bump supported and your shopping day will be less tiring and last longer. FittaMamma maternity leggings hold your bump securely and comfortably and look great teamed with a jumper, a long top or a dress.
- With alcohol off limits you can still enjoy the party season. Our alcohol-free festive mocktails and ‘Mulled Why-Not’ will slip down a treat. Prefer more bubbles? Try a Ginger Slinger the healthy pregnancy alternative to champagne!
- Avoid shop bought pates (they can contain listeria) and say no to soft unpasteurised, blue-veined or mould-ripened cheeses. Hard cheeses such as cheddar or processed cheeses are perfect for your healthy pregnancy diet – they’re full of essential calcium. Our mushroom pate is a healthy alternative if you need an easy starter or a party snack.
- Turkey is a good low fat, high protein food and is also a useful source of iron, zinc and potassium. A 5oz serving provides almost half the recommended daily intake of folic acid – tuck in and enjoy, it’s a great for pregnancy nutrition! Make sure it’s cooked all the way through and stored carefully in the fridge for Boxing Day.
- Don’t miss out on Christmas pudding – all that dried fruit is good for you and the amount of alcohol left in an individual portion after cooking is unlikely to be harmful.
- 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.
- If you can’t fit in your usual pregnancy exercise regime don’t forget that walking is good for you too! Whilst an hour in the gym might be tricky if you’re entertaining the in-laws a good bracing walk is a sociable way to maintain your cardio.
- Use your fit-ball to sit on whilst you’re watching the Christmas movies – you can strengthen your core and work your abs without even noticing it! Circling your hips on the ball can help alleviate any nagging pregnancy back ache or lean across it for a lovely relaxing back stretch.
- Make shopping easy for others. Send a helpful link to our gift packs or gift vouchers and you can be sure to receive exactly what you want, in the right size and colour!
- Enjoy! Make the most of being pregnant and accept offers of help – let other people carry the shopping and do the cooking. Eat well, try and fit in some exercise, keep your bump supported and find time to put your feet up too.
Enjoy a wonderful, fit and healthy Christmas Mammas!