Prenatal power for changing bodies
July 23, 2014
A women's body changes more during her 40 weeks of pregnancy then a man's does in his entire life. A fascinating fact to ponder, according to ACOG (American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists).
Everything from the size of her belly to the speed at which her heart beats will change over the nine months leading up to childbirth.
Partly the result of hormonal fluctuations and partly the physical strain of carrying extra body weight, pregnant women can expect to buy new bras, search for ways to alleviate swollen ankles, gasp for breath after climbing a few stairs and marvel at how quickly their nails grow.
With that said, how do we, the pregnant population, adjust our physical activities to cater to our rapidly changing body?
NEW SCHOOL WISDOM
How do we stay fit and strong through the process? And do we listen to or dismiss the myths out there? Do your research.
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The fabulous thing about technology is you can find legitimate research and studies to support an active pregnant body. But do read research-based literature vs. general blogs. And ladies, accept the fact, embrace it even, that your body will change — you will and must gain weight.
If you stay active you should bounce back rather quickly. Be kind to yourself, and know that all of this is for the most outstanding reason there ever could be. You are growing — yes, growing — a human being.
For years the dominant thought among pregnant women was to go old school, take it easy and rest.
Common pregnancy myths have been debunked:
Myth 1: Avoid ab work. Not only is it OK, experts say abdominal workouts can provide many benefits."Your abdominal and your entire core, including your pelvic floor, should be strengthened throughout pregnancy, and doing so will help not only during pregnancy, but also aid in labor and delivery — and recovery," said Sue Fleming, certified fitness instructor and founder of Buff Fitness.com.
Myth 2: Never get your heart rate above 130 when exercising. There is no one "target" heart rate that's right for every pregnant woman. ACOG abandoned the "target heart rate" concept a long time ago. Most experts now rely on as a guide is RPE, or rate of perceived exertion. This is a scale that determines how hard you are working based on how you feel when you are working.
There are many documented benefits of exercise during pregnancy which include: reduced risk of premature labor and very small birth weights; substantially decreased need for operative intervention and pain management during labor; shorter labor, and less weight gain during pregnancy; quicker recovery and an overall healthier more energetic experience throughout your pregnancy. according to ACOG and ACSM(American College of Sports Medicine).
As little as 20 minutes of moderate exercise three times per week during pregnancy enhances the newborn child's brain development, according to researchers at the University of Montreal in Canada.
According to high-risk pregnancy expert Laura Riley, MD author of "Pregnancy: You and Your Baby," "You need to be physically active during pregnancy. It has terrific benefits that are associated with a better pregnancy outcome and even shorter labors. It's a win-win for baby and for mom."
Doing functional exercises is important. Functional fitness are movements that mimic real life activities, such as lifting baby from crib, twisting and rotating. If you have health problems consult your physician before starting an exercise regime.
ADD THIS TO REPERTOIRE
Plank: Strengthens core abdominal muscles without lying on your back, which will minimize low back pain and lessens demands of awkward weight distribution.
Squats and Sumo/Plié squats: Strengthens the lower body and will assist in hard work of labor. And in the picking up, bending and rotating of mama-hood.
Rows standing or seated: Strengthens shoulders and back, which will be crucial muscles used to hold, rock, carry and nurse the baby-to-be.
Do prenatal yoga, swim, hike and even jog, ladies, to get your cardio in.
We move, react and respond differently as a mama because we have a baby to chase, follow and look after.
Strengthening to accommodate this life change will reap many rewards.
A fitness and healthy living advocate, Amy Renn has a masters in kinesiology, is a certified personal and group trainer and yoga instructor and a licensed massage therapist since 1999. Inspired by her love of the outdoors and its relationship to fitness, Amy started Terra Firma Fitness in 2004.