If I was to pick one exercise that I think every pregnant woman should do it would be... drum roll please…
Walking!!! “Walking,” you say in disbelief? You were expecting something more elaborate, right? Truth is, an exercise doesn’t have to be fancy to get results and be effective. Walking is something we do every day, but it isn’t always thought of as a form of exercise.
Let’s reframe the way you think about walking and look at why it is especially great in pregnancy!
Walking is a low impact way to get great cardio during your pregnancy. It is also a great stress reliever and we could all use a little less stress in our lives!
Walking requires no equipment other than shoes, and it allows you some time to get out in nature and just breathe. It is also great for your glutes and legs, and your pelvic floor!
I recommend walking every day for 30...
Fertility continues to be a growing area of interest in issues of reproductive health. Thankfully, there continues to be an increasing number of health professionals with knowledge, awareness and services aimed at assisting those facing fertility challenges.
An alternative that is perhaps not as well known is fitness for fertility, which is focused mainly on releasing tension in over-used muscles, improving body alignment to optimize core function and ditching the high-intensity bootcamp workouts in favour of gentler movement that facilitates, rather than hinders conception.
Much of the exercise that women pursue these days is high intensity, vigorous exercise that can interfere with optimal reproductive function. This high-intensity exercise can elevate cortisol levels and also halt ovulation and menstruation, all of which can therefore interfere with fertility.
Choosing less rigorous activities such as...
High-Intensity Workouts Get You Nowhere When Your Core is Comprimised
I’m often asked to identify the best way to get back in shape after having a baby. People often balk at what I say, and then go on to join the first mommy bootcamp they can find.
Most come back to me with their tailbone tucked between their legs, a poochy tummy that hasn’t flattened even though they can ‘hold a plank for three minutes,’ back pain that won’t go away even though they ‘do core exercise 3-5 times a week,’ and leaking urine ‘only when jumping or running or do jumping jacks.’ Get my point?
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, mommy and bootcamp do not belong in the same sentence!
Most women who have had babies have compromised cores. During pregnancy your posture changes with the weight of your growing uterus, which affects the position of your pelvic floor.
Your hormones influence the ligaments and connective tissue that...
I recall when I was first pregnant; I bought The Pregnancy Bible and read it diligently every day to see what was happening to me and my babe.
About three-quarters of the way through the book there was a tiny paragraph about diastasis recti that described it as when the abdominal muscles separate due to the stretching of the connective tissue during pregnancy. Nothing was included about stats, how to check for it, how to prevent it or what to do about it!
It sounded painful! And I thought for sure I would know if I had it. Not so; it took four years to diagnose it in myself. I kept learning (and am still learning) all about it.
Diastasis (DRA) is so far poorly researched, but thankfully the research world is realizing the impact and increased occurrence of this condition, so more studies are in the works.
Diastasis recti is the separation of the outermost abdominals from the midline where they are connected...
In my last blog, I talked about what diastasis recti is. Though much more research is needed in order to fully understand it, we do have some information that can help point us toward healing strategies.
Here I share with you my strategies for helping clients improve the integrity of the linea alba which sets them up for a return to optimal core function.
Prevention during pregnancy, as well as taking advantage of the first eight weeks post-partum are essential (this is why my partners and I in Bellies Inc developed a comprehensive system).
But if you are like many women and lack of knowledge and awareness during pregnancy means you are still struggling many years later with a weak core, I can still help!
Ultimately, there is no one prescription. Everyone is different, but one thing I know is that I always start with alignment and posture. Then I add in the breath and then I add in movement to regain coordination - the ABC's -...
Over the centuries, different cultures have used creative methods to help lessen the pain of labour or ease delivery.
In Africa, for instance, women use gourds of increasing size to help stretch the perineum in preparation for birth in order to reduce the likelihood of tearing.
I used the EPI-NO in both of my pregnancies and can't recommend it highly enough.
The perineum is the area of skin between the vagina and the rectum and it is an area worth protecting! During pregnancy and childbirth your perineum and pelvic floor muscles will face an ever-increasing load and will be extensively stretched during delivery.
Without proper preparation, the perineum can tear during childbirth, or be cut in a procedure...
When you give birth you are expecting a baby to come out, and then the placenta. Not many moms are expecting their bladder or uterus to come out (pelvic organ prolapse) – most don’t even know this is possible.
Pregnancy and childbirth are risk factors for a condition known as pelvic organ prolapse. Studies show that 50 per cent of women who have given birth one or more times will have some degree of prolapse but it is likely even higher given the low reporting rate and lack of awareness. In simple terms a prolapse is the progressive descent of the internal organs (the bladder, the uterus or the rectum) into and eventually out of the vagina.
It occurs in stages, with the first and second stages often being asymptomatic, so many women don’t even know they have a problem until it progresses to stage 3, when the organ is at the vaginal opening and may even bulge out periodically on exertion, or stage 4, when the organ is bulging right out of the vaginal opening.
You know the saying when someone has worked really hard at something and you say, ‘She really worked her butt off!’ I joked about that after I had my first child as I remarked at my really flat butt! ‘I birthed my butt off!’ I would say…
That was before I knew about why my butt ‘fell off’. In fact what had happened was my alignment had changed so much in my pregnancy that I became a tailbone tucker, and pelvis thruster and a chest gripper.
Actually, I am pretty sure I went into my pregnancy not well aligned with already weak glutes and then when I added pregnancy into the ‘messed up core’ mix I became even more un-aligned (not sure if that's a word but it is now!).
That was 14 years ago… I went on to have a second babe in 2007 and it was after he was born that I found out about diastasis recti. I was already immersed in the pelvic floor world...
The possibility of a perineal tear is probably the number one fear of pregnant women – how the heck am I going to push a baby out of my vagina and stay in one piece!?!
Episiotomy used to be a routine procedure that was once thought to help increase the space for the baby to emerge and protect women from dysfunction created by tearing. It turns out the procedure designed to protect actually created more dysfunction and perineal trauma. Thankfully, the procedure is rarely performed these days.
Tearing, while not ideal, is better than an episiotomy. Tears are classified in four degrees of severity, with fourth degree being the worst.
The female body is designed to give birth – the shape of our pelvis, we have a uterus, the hormones – but this natural phenomenon is becoming increasingly un-natural with medical interventions, a technology-driven society and the rise in high-intensity exercise.
Together these influences are wreaking havoc on the female body and interfering with what should be a normal physiologic process.
Before we get to birth, let’s look at the body itself and how we use technology on a daily basis.
Computers and cell phones are the technology I am referring to and the fact that we sit the majority of the time that we use these pieces of technology. This affects our posture and overall body alignment, which in turn affects our pelvic floor and abdomen – two parts of the body that are heavily involved in pregnancy and birth.
A body that sits the majority of the day is more prone to...