Hey hi hello! Today we’re moving onto the third and final part of this series.
In Part 1 we talked about how your life needs to change to prioritize your baby, activities you can add to your weekdays to nurture yourself and baby, and what you can add or takeaway from your weekends to prepare for your little one.
Part 2 dove into the biomechanics of pregnancy, and went through the benefits of getting adjusted by a chiropractor during this time.
As promised, Part 3 now is going to be more about lifestyle.
The first thing I wanted to talk about is focusing on good posture early. Due to hormonal and gravitational changes, your body is going to be constantly adapting for the next 9 months. A lot of times this looks like a widened stance, and an increase in the curve of your low back. Being conscious to avoid standing with your hands on your hips and sticking your bottom out will help to decrease this exaggerated curve. Another good practice is to stand with feet shoulder width apart, shoulders relaxed, and imagine that a string is pulling you up.
Next is to still exercise regularly. Now I’m not saying to do CrossFit 6x/week by any means, but performing modified exercises can be extremely valuable for a huge list of reasons:
- Exercising while pregnant allows you to have more energy, sleep that is more restful, better able to adapt to and manage stress, and decreased frequency of mood swings.
- It’s been studied that women who work out while pregnant will gain 21% less weight. If the average woman gains 40 pounds during pregnancy, that’s 8 less pounds!
- More research shows that 80% of women who exercise during pregnancy give birth either on or before their due date.
- Vigorous exercise can cause unnecessary stress on placental function. But moderate exercise increases placental function and encourage growth of the fetus.
- Exercise doesn’t only benefit you. It helps improve the flow of blood and oxygen to your baby’s brain. This in turn will help you grow a baby that will be more alert, calm, and responsive to outside stimuli.
During these exercises, keeping your heart rate under 150 beats per minute will offer all of these benefits you’re looking for. If your heart rates gets over 180 bpm, that’s when fetal distress can occur. You don’t have to ask too much of your body time-wise either. Moderate intensity exercises can be performed for 15-20 minutes, and low-intensity workouts can be performed for 45 minutes. You want to choose exercises that don’t affect your center of gravity. Great examples include walking (not at a steep incline), swimming, water aerobics, stationary bikes, and low impact aerobic classes.
Women who choose to exercise during this time are shown to have easier and shorter labors, less medical interventions, less fetal distress, and a faster recovery after baby. There is also less need for induced labors and/or epidurals.
*High blood pressure, history of incompetent cervix, cardiovascular disease, vaginal bleeding, history of of preterm labor, pre-term rupture of membranes, anemia, fetal complications, sickle cell anemia, anemia, and thyroid disease are contraindications to exercise during this time* If any of these apply to you, enjoy this time of rest momma!
Another note about exercise is avoiding abdominal exercises during this time is crucial. About 30% of women experience abdominal tearing or separation down the middle of their abs due to the lack of blood supply in this area. The lack of blood supply also means this is very hard to heal if separation does occur. I encourage you to get up from a side-lying position. Stack your legs and swing them around, while using your upper body to push you off. I have an Instagram reel demonstrating this! If you do need to get up from your back, cross your hands to opposite sides of your belly to help with inward support.
Coming from a background in exercise and sport science before pursuing my chiropractic degree, I wanted to make sure I talked about the benefits of exercise during this time. I’m strongly debating becoming a BirthFit leader in the future. This is an exercise and education program for pre and postpartum moms that was designed by a chiropractor. If I do pursue this, you’ll be the first to know! Well maybe besides my Instagram followers.
I want to wrap this post up by listing a few other healthy habits:
- Visualize your ideal birth
- How labor begins, what you’ll do, how you’ll feel, and who will be there. Then move into picturing what your baby will look like, who would you like to be the first visitors.
- This is a great tool to do each night to help access your conscious and unconscious mind. The repetition helps your mind trust and believe these thoughts.
- Stimulate your baby
- Talk to your baby
- Interact with your baby
- Discuss your ideal birth – all your hopes and fears – with your partner and/or birth team.
- Invest in rest and sleep
- Focus on music and meditation
- Attend birth classes or workshops
- Drink plenty of filtered water
Hopefully by now you’ve found something useful to takeaway from this article! If there’s anything else you would like more details on or have questions about, don’t hesitate to contact me!