Top 5 Pregnancy Fitness Guidelines!
It’s not uncommon to be fearful of doing things while pregnant. We are often led to believe by others (people, media, well meaning friends and family) that doing ANYTHING while pregnant can result in some horrible fate. And as conscious loving Mama Bears we don’t want to do anything that could potentially hurt our growing baby.
I understand that fully. However, there are some things that you want to consider in deciding whether or not to exercise during pregnancy.
- Did my doctor tell me it was ok for me to exercise?
- Do I feel good enough to exercise? (be honest with yourself)
- Do I know what I can safely do for exercise during pregnancy?
- Am I overdoing it?
- Do I realize that labour and delivery is harder than a marathon, so I could use to train a little for it?
Now, on the last point, there are many things that go into how your labour and delivery pan out – genetics, baby size, your anatomy, physiology, fitness and a myriad of other factors and circumstances which make each and every labour and delivery unique.
However, to NOT workout out of unwarranted fears may have you wishing you were in better “shape” (cardiovascular and strength-wise) to withstand and really get into it with 24-48 hours of labour and delivery.
A marathon is only 4-5 hours! And very few try to get through one without any training at all. While carrying an extra 20-100 lbs. Right?
You never know what your birth story will ultimately look like, but you can be as prepared as possible going into it, fitness wise, health permitting.
Watch the video for my Top 5 Pregnancy Fitness Guidelines to make it safe, worthwhile and your best possible path to an awesome labour, delivery and postpartum recovery.
Let me know how it goes!
Stretch to lower stress. Yes, you can! Stretch your body, relax your mind.
I hear it all the time, “I am so stressed!” “I don’t have time to exercise,” or “I don’t even know where to start, I am so tired from being a mom!”
It’s all good FitMama! Don’t stress about it.
Yes, activity is important and you know that I promote exercise like it’s going out of style – BUT, let me tell you, STRESS is keeping more belly fat around your midsection than lack of exercise most likely.
Take some time to just relax and stretch out your body. Stretching feels SO good. I guarantee it. Every single time a FitMama does my stretching video from the 28 Day FitBlitz Program, they say, “That felt so good, I need to do that more!” I know!! I know, trust me, I know.
Top 5 reasons to stretch:
- It increases blood flow and circulation (hello happy cells)! It will wake up both your mind and body.
- It improves flexibility and reduces the risk of injuries. Bye bye back pain, stiffness, soreness and the chance that you pull something while walking down the street after a long night with the littles.
- It can provide a calming break for your mind, helping to reduce anxiety and depression. Often we don’t realize how interconnected our minds and bodies really are. Releasing tension in one, releases tension in the other one.
- Improves posture and alignment, especially a good chest stretch out! This is so important as we often spend so much time hunched over holding and feeding our babies, driving, computing or texting.
- It keeps your muscles active – especially your glutes. We sit for so many hours each day and our glutes can become so weak and inactive that we don’t even recruit them properly even when we walk. This can lead to all sorts of problems (and can be both a symptom and a consequence of a weak core), so get them stretching!
When is the best time to stretch?
Well, as my answer with most “When is the best time” questions, it is “whenever you make time for it” but – there really is a BEST time to stretch, in the evening before bed.
While we sleep (broken or solid sleep) our brains map our bodies and send messages back and forth. We have sort of like a mirror image of our bodies imprinted on our minds. If we stretch early in the day, then we can go through the day with a different map than what is the reality of our newly stretched out bodies. This can sometimes lead to an increased risk of injury – another reason why you don’t want to do static stretching (holding a stretch) before a workout.
For the most part though, do not worry too much about the “when” unless you are an a high level athlete. Just stretch when you can! Doing it is the most important thing, so make time each day and stretch it out!
Turn on some relaxing music, dim the lights and stretch out your beautiful body by following along with me in this FitBlitz Stretching Video. Both your mind and your body will thank you.
Let me know how it goes!!
Why am I redefining core exercise?
Well, first off it is because most people think core exercises just consist solely on working the core alone in isolation. The “core” is a buzz word that is used a lot but not really well understood.
I teach core education webinars that run online quite often, CLICK HERE to find out when the next one is, if you want to learn what the core really is (with anatomy pictures and all!) and how to work it most safely and effectively.
It is common to think of core moves as just variations of crunches, sit-ups or leg raises. I am here to tell you these are not the best moves to work your whole core, and these moves are potentially quite damaging to the deep inner core unit. Often when we do moves like crunches, we are strengthening just the superficial muscles of the rectus abdominis or obliques and the stronger these muscles get, they can overcompensate for a weaker inner unit, which then can cause deeper issues down the road. And I am guess you don’t want that!
I recommend each and every new mom do a comprehensive 6-8 week core rehab program (at least) such as the one from BelliesInc.com.
Check out this video example of the Glute March – yes, a core exercise.
Don’t forget to do your core breathing while doing this move.
Go for 3-4 rounds of 10-15 reps per leg and if your hips start to sink, take a break and do more later. This works the core muscles of the back as well as the glutes, quads and hamstrings. Great bang for your buck! And it’s a safe exercise! Bonus!
Let me know how you like this one!!
What do I mean by “birth then breathe?”
I hear it from new moms all the time, “What do I do to get my body back as quickly as possible?”
Well, for starters, we are all very different individuals, and each with a unique situation. Especially since we have a very unpredictable new baby (or babies) in our world that we need to tend to at all hours of the day.
The first thing I say – no matter what your situation is – BREATHE.
I know, I know, BORING when you think you are ready to hit the ground running and join the closest ‘mom and baby bootcamp.’ Don’t do it!
Breathing is not boring, it is essential.
It actually is the essential first step to your postpartum recovery. Additionally, it is an opportunity to ground and connect with yourself and your baby at a deeper level because breathing will naturally bring you into the present moment. The NOW moment. The only moment that really matters.
Especially because as new moms, we can’t help but be thinking about the past and future, “Did she get enough to eat? When is her next nap? When did he last poop? Is that a rash or a spot? Did I eat yet? Should I shower?” And on it goes.
Worry, anxiety, thinking. Breathing gets you out of your head.
Furthermore, breathing will have the positive benefit of relaxing your nervous system, which is a huge bonus! Hello, anxiety due to the responsibility of keeping a human alive! No small role to play, that’s for sure.
Being a new mom is incredibly intense, and no matter who you are, I can guarantee that it will bring along some pretty strong emotions and perhaps even feelings you didn’t expect.
The type of breathing that I recommend specifically is CORE breathing. This is going to be the single most important exercise you can do to “get your body back” so to speak. Watch my video on core breathing here on YouTube @lovefitmama.
Follow these simple instructions to practice Core Breathing:
Remember – although you may feel fabulous 6 weeks after you deliver one or more babies out of your abdomen, you are not the same person as you were before you got pregnant and your body is most surely not (in a good way! Trust me).
But….starting back to exercise with care and caution is the way to venture forward. What are the consequences to working out too hard too soon after delivery? (Yes, 6 weeks can be too soon, in some cases 6 months can be too soon; heed your needs).
How to begin:
- Start practicing Core breathing on Day 1 of giving birth, or as soon as you learn about this, whether you are pregnant or have had your baby. (Bonus, you don’t have to wait 6 weeks to start this highly impactful core exercise).
- Take a moment each day and acknowledge something that you are grateful for and smile often.
- Practice the Core Breathing daily for 5-10 minutes (or even 2 if that’s all you can spare) for a minimum of 90 days – mark an X on your calendar and pat yourself on the back, you are “getting your body back!”
- When your baby cries or it feels like all hell is breaking loose (there will be many days like this!) take a few really deep breaths, relax your shoulders down your back and know that you are doing the best thing possible for yourself and your kids.
Please let me know how your core breathing is going and the difference you have noticed since starting! Flat belly, here you come!
Are you looking for a supportive community of like-minded FitMamas who all share the same goals of living a healthy and fit lifestyle? Then the FitMama group is for you!
I am in there every day answering questions, posting new recipes, sharing what I am eating and what I am doing. We have numerous challenges such as Fitness Challenges, No Sugar challenges and Water challenges. It is all designed to inspire, motivate and education on safe exercise, positive mindset and truly flourishing as a FitMama.
We have a daily theme #saynosaturday #successsunday, #mindfulmonday and so on, where I post thought provoking articles, pictures or messages about relevant topics to get you thinking outside the box.
What are people saying about being a part of the FitMama group?
I’m grateful to find a group of people who share health as a common goal and interest, who motivate eachother, who don’t judge but rather support eachother (even though we don’t ‘know’ eachother) and who aren’t on FB just to whine about their jobs!!! The positivity is something that I prefer to be part of.
There are saved files with recipes and meal prep ideas as well as a long newsfeed with months and months of questions, answers, suggestions, ideas for #breakfast, #lunch, #dinner and #snacks as well as shopping ideas and informative articles.
I’ve really paid attention to your frank and motivational posts and truly say they’ve moved me to pay more attention to everything in all aspects of my life, rather than just pass each day as if on an internal autopilot setting. Thank you so much for inviting me into your world.
Please join us in this group of FitMamas from all over the world to share your stories, suggestions and questions. We are all here to support each other in living an active lifestyle, free of dis-ease and share in each other’s successes.
After following your challenges and suggestions in the group, I have lost 20 lbs in the last 3 months – and I have never even met you! Thank you for this group Jen!
If you are ready to make some changes and just don’t know where to start, this group is for you.
Click here to join: facebook.com/groups/lovefitmama
“See” you there!
You no longer have to have that goal. You can set your sights even higher!
Learn what it means to rehab after having a baby.
Are you one of the many people who:
· Feel weak and flabby in the core?
· Are still trying to use crunches to tone the midsection?
· Know that something doesn’t feel right down there?
· Have no idea what to do or where to start?
What you will learn in the webinar will empower you to know:
· What the core actually is?
· Why rehabilitating it after having a baby is vital?
· What you can do starting today to get the results you really want for your body?
If you want to know more, and really create the body you feel incredible, in then I can help.
FitMama is excited to be hosting an educational webinar on Tuesday, September 22nd at 8:30 pm EST.
I am so excited to host a live webinar to educate you, answer your questions and share this need to know information! Get more details and register here.
See you there,
Let food be thy medicine, and medicine, thy food.
When it comes to finding an appropriate application for this quote by Hippocrates, I believe feeding our children may be one of the best. I am referring here specifically to preventive medicine.
What more do we want as moms than keep our babies and children healthy and free of disease, decreasing the chances for medical attention or interventions of any kind?
The important question here is not whether you feed your baby formula or breastmilk, it is that if you make the choice to breastfeed, how can you ensure the highest quality milk for your baby?
When it comes to nutrition information specific to breastfeeding however, there are so many places to go for info, a simple Google search can result in over 8 million hits and will have you more confused and exhausted than your lack of sleep will.
Here are some basics to get you started and feeling confident that you are in fact making incredible milk that will keep your baby growing healthy, strong and happy for the months and years to come. In addition to being good for your milk, I believe in eating foods good for you also. To help you naturally and moderately return to a healthy post-pregnancy weight that you feel good about. Weight loss is not the goal of breastfeeding, but it does have the side benefit of burning 400-500 extra calories per day, which means you will need to fuel it, but it can still work on your behalf.
I could write a blog post on each of these points below, but I will keep them brief here to start.
1. Drink lots of water. Water will help with milk quality and quantity and will ensure that you and baby are both hydrated. Aim for 3-4 litres per day as a minimum.
2. Eat real, whole foods. Avoid packaged and processed foods. Eat foods without food labels as a majority (if not all) of your intake and make this a real priority.
3. Eat as many leafy greens, vegetables and salads as you can. Watch for some cruciferous vegetables that may cause baby gas and discomfort, such as brussels sprouts, broccoli and kale. They may very well not though, I never had any issues.
4. Eat foods that contain healthy fats, such as raw, unsalted nuts (eg. walnuts, brazil nuts, almonds), seeds (eg. sesame, pumpkin, chia, hemp), extra virgin olive oil, unrefined coconut oil, avocados and salmon.
5. Focus on proteins from high quality sources. Especially if you eat animal foods, be sure to avoid ones which may have come from factory farms (land or water). Look for wild, free range, organic, grass fed and those free from antibiotics and growth hormones.
6. Choose unrefined whole grains like rolled oats and pseudo-grains like quinoa and wild rice. Avoid gluten grains such as wheat or spelt if you have bloating or indigestion after eating them.
7. Avoid added refined sugars. Eating whole fruits or diluted fresh squeezed/pressed fruit/vegetable juices is ideal. Baking with maple syrup, ripe bananas or date sugar is a great way to get actual nutrients along with natural sweetness.
8. Choose foods high in fibre. These will help keep you fuller longer and help with your intestinal health. If you feel hungry all the time, increase your intake of fibre foods and water, just do it slowly over a number of days to avoid digestive distress.
8. Continue taking a high quality whole foods sourced prenatal multivitamin with DHA is ideal.
9. Avoiding caffeine and alcohol is always recommended. Even small amounts of either may have effects on your baby’s brain and nervous system development, not to mention their sleep (quality and quantity).
Additionally, last but not least, choose organic as often as possible. The less chemicals you are ingesting, the less your baby will be ingesting. Due to costs or availability, this may not be possible, but always aim to eat locally sourced, ripe, in-season foods. Be choosy as to where you go out to eat or order your food from, where are they getting their food?
Again, this is a basic starter list, but will be very valuable in choosing foods that are going to ensure healthy milk and healthy you. Watch for signs that your baby is disagreeing with your food choices, such as wincing in pain or chronic discomfort, rashes on their face or body, excessive crying or colic. Avoid dairy or other common allergenic foods such as eggs, soy, peanuts and wheat for a few days or weeks if you see these signs. Introducing them back in one by one and looking for reactions is then recommended.
Putting baby to breast or pumping often are the best way to increase milk supply, as well as consuming adequate amounts of food. Restricting your food intake in the hopes of losing weight is a recipe for disaster. Drink lots of water and eat well.
As for foods or supplements that will further enhance milk supply, I will save that for another post.
What foods have you found that made great milk for your baby and made you feel great at the same time?
I welcome your comments, questions and feedback!
PS. If you want the recipe to my delicious baked oatmeal pictured above, find me on Facebook. If you are not already a member of the Private FitMama Facebook Community where we share lots of healthy recipes, information and tools to keep you a FitMama, simply post a request on the wall. See you there!