Some of you might feel physically and emotionally fantastic throughout your entire pregnancy and only have to modify a few exercises or your intensity as you progress. Others, may notice a significant change from the first trimester and really need to slow things down. There are also those who did not move their bodies regularly prior to becoming pregnant, however crave that connection with their growing physical body, but unsure of where to even begin.
- Balanced nutrition | Health Canada recommends increasing our food intake by two or three food guide servings through the second and third trimesters and while breastfeeding. Increasing food intake with healthy choices will help promote healthy weight gain. For most women 25-35lbs is the recommended amount of weight gain during a full term pregnancy. Your postpartum self will appreciate these habits you've created, as well as making it easier to return to your pre-pregnancy weight!
- Move your body everyday | If you have no contraindications to physical activity, some form of exercise most days of the week will build healthy habits and also contribute to healthy weight gain. Your relaxed ligaments and widening pelvis will thank you for getting up and moving. Your heart will thank you for increasing it's beat and circulating fresh oxygenated blood throughout your body. Your baby will also thank you for that fresh blood. Your mind will thank you for the endorphin boost leaving you full of "feel good" hormones! Your postpartum self will thank you for creating these habits during pregnancy so that you know how wonderful it feels to move, even on days where you don't feel like it.
- Being gentle on your core | Most women who train their core focus on their rectus abdominis. This is the "six pack" group of muscles that is most prominent in our front body. These muscles are stretched and put under strain with a growing pregnant belly. For this reason, it is important to not exert even more stress on this muscles group. Avoiding crunching motions both in exercise AND in daily activities (like going from a laying to sitting/standing position) is extremely important to protect yourself from long term damage. Separation of the abdominal can occur even if everything is done correctly, as genetics and baby's growth also play a role, however, something as simple as rolling onto your side and pressing yourself up with your upper body instead of sitting straight up from a laying position can really help prevent this!
- Connecting with your deep core and pelvic floor | By training our core or different "abs" muscles, we will train our torso for carrying excess weight, the pushing stage of labour, and recovery from both vaginal and caesarean births. I have a full post on the best ways to connect with these muscles groups here. These are also exercises that we can begin engaging within days or weeks after giving birth, please follow the guidelines in the full post Pregnancy-Safe Core Exercise.
- Respecting when your body tells you to slow down, even if your ego disagrees | Let's go back to the title of this post. Pregnancy is temporary. Postpartum is forever. So what if you need to stop running at 15 weeks because it doesn't feel good on your body? I can guarantee you can find another activity to get your heart rate up, boost those endorphins, and engage your muscles that will make you feel strong and amazing! Tell that ego that you need to listen to your body and take full ownership of that. Rest when you need to rest and find activities that agree with your changing body. These are also great indicators to follow while you recover after birth. Listening to what your body is asking for and trying activities that are safe and effective for your stage of postpartum will help your recovery.
- Take time to connect with your emotional body | The various hormones that pregnant brings will also affect the way you feel emotionally. It is important to take time to connect to and respect these changes, just as we do our physical body. Being present and aware now will also help you in the postpartum time and as you adjust to your new life with your Little(s).