Health Concerns You Should Be Aware Of During Pregnancy


 Health Concerns You Should Be Aware Of During Pregnancy (1)We are thrilled to feature this guest blog post by Anita regarding health concerns during pregnancy. Anita is a freelance writer from Denver, CO and often writes about home, family and health. A mother of two, she enjoys traveling with her family when she isn’t writing. 

Pregnancy is a time of great joy and expectation for your new arrival. However, certain foods you eat and even tasks that you perform may pose some health concerns that can affect you and your unborn baby during your pregnancy.  Here are some health concerns that shouldn’t worry you, but that you should know about when you are pregnant:

  • Listeriosis

This bacterial infection can lead to meningitis, blood infection, organ lesions, miscarriage, premature birth, or stillbirth. Listeriosis is transmitted through water, soil, and certain foods, including deli meats, cold cuts, uncooked or under-cooked meats, unwashed fruits and vegetables, raw milk, and products that are made with unpasteurized milk, such as certain soft cheeses. Talk with your doctor about foods you can eat and what to look out for when pregnant. 

  • Toxoplasmosis

This is parasitic infection can cross the placenta and result in stillbirth, premature birth, low birth weight, and neurological and other problems in the newborn. This parasite is passed from infected animals through eating raw or uncooked meat from an infected animal, fruits, vegetables, and water that come in contact with manure, or through contact with feces, such as when changing the cat’s litter box. Toxoplasmosis during pregnancy isn’t all that common, but should be treated promptly if you suspect you may have it.

  • Mercury Risks 

Some fish contain high levels of mercury, called methylmercury, that can affect a developing baby’s nervous system. The FDA recommends limiting your intake of fish that contain low levels of methylmercury both before and during pregnancy, and avoid those that are high in methylmercury, especially shark, king mackerel, swordfish, and tilefish.

  • Gestational Diabetes 

This form of diabetes occurs only during pregnancy and affects almost 10% of pregnant women, according to the American Diabetes Association. Hormonal changes during pregnancy affect the body’s ability to use insulin, resulting in high blood sugar levels, increasing the risk of macrosomia, problems during delivery, preeclampsia, blood sugar problems in the baby, and stillbirth. If you already have diabetes, it’s important to get specialized diabetes care to prevent any problems.

  • Preeclampsia 

Preeclampsia is characterized by high blood pressure and fluid retention that is more likely during the second half of pregnancy. Reduced blood flow to organs and the uterus can result in complications that are serious and potentially life-threatening to both mother and baby. 

  • Depression

According to Harvard Health Publications, depression during pregnancy can lead to poor maternal care that affects the developing fetus, resulting in learning, emotional, and behavior problems, as well as risk for postpartum depression. Talk with a counselor or your doctor to get the correct treatment.

Knowing the potential risks can help you to make a few changes to reduce the chance of harm to yourself or your baby. In addition, contact your health care provider with any symptoms and follow recommendations provided during each stage of pregnancy.

 

Stay Active Through the First Trimester

We love these great tips from fit mom Laura regarding how to stay active through the first trimester of pregnancy. 
Hi I’m Laura, mama to my sweet 2 year old boy, and #2 on the way!  I blog all about my family and our adventures at tiny toes, little nose.  I am just reaching the end of my first trimester, so I thought this would be the perfect time to share some tips on how I have been able to stay active in my pregnancy.
I had a very fit pregnancy with my first, so I knew that was something I wanted to continue when I became pregnant with baby #2.  This time around I have been terribly nauseous, which makes any sort of physical activity seem impossible.  And the exhaustion…at times that is even worse!  However, not only is it possible, it can make such a difference in the way you feel each day and set a good precedence for the rest of your pregnancy!
-Eat Healthy-
This may seems like such an obvious choice, but when you have nausea all day sometimes comfort foods seems to be the only thing you are able to choke down.  However, a lot of those rich and dense comfort foods will only leave you feeling heavy and tired, making it far less likely to really get moving that day.  Frequent light & healthy meals/snacks set the tone for a good workout.  I have an incredibly hard time eating during the first trimester, so I make sure to add some whey protein to my smoothies and always keep healthy and nutrient packed snacks close by so that I am nourished enough to get through the day!
-Keep Weekly Totals-
I like to see the numbers, so tracking my workouts & stats in my planner is a huge motivator.  I never like to see too many days without some miles ran, hiked, or swam.  I especially love adding up those numbers at the end of each week and comparing them with weeks past.  I am naturally a competitive person, and there is no better competitor than myself!
-Surround Yourself with Motivators-
Too often, people tell pregnant women to “take it easy” and remind them that they are “eating for two.”  This is just terrible advice and you don’t want to surround yourself with demotivating advice.  You want those close to you to help keep you on track!  My mom & husband are both wonderful at asking about my workouts and encouraging me to make it into the gym.  Some days I’m so exhausted that I’m not quite sure I’ll make it through the day, so the thought of going to the gym sounds impossible, but once I’m there I’m so happy I made it and feel so rewarded to get that physical high during a workout to just put that spark back into my day!  Many times, I only need that little push to get me there.  I need the reminder that, as crazy as it sounds, I will have more energy after a run!
I hope this encourages some of you to get (or stay) active early in your pregnancy, and set yourself on the right track to a fit & healthy pregnancy right from the start!  It is not easy to stay committed, but the payout is all worth it in how you feel, look, and recover through and after pregnancy!  I even have found that the one time of day that I’m not nauseous during this stage of my pregnancy is when I’m in the gym getting through my run; which is just what I need to recharge my batteries to get through the day!  
Happy fit pregnancy to all those great moms-to-be!

Top 5 Tips to Maintaining an Active Pregnancy

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Read fit mom, Jess Perry’s, top 5 tips to maintaining an active pregnancy.

I am Married and have 3 little ones, Brynlee (7), TJ (6) and Mackay (6 months). I love to do anything and everything and will always try something once. I spend my summers playing with kids, running and training for some marathon or Ironman, and water skiing and wake boarding in beautiful Lake Powell. I love to ski…water and snow. I love the early mornings which is when I get most of my training in because my #1 priority is being a wife and mom! Plus, I really love a good sunrise with the beautiful mountains of Utah!

I studied Business & Marketing at Utah Valley University and in the past several years I have expanded my education in Health and Nutrition. I also have received my Personal Training Certification & Run Coaching Certification. I was involved with Rocky Mountain Running & Triathlon Magazine for almost 3 years writing product reviews, articles and helping out with their marketing. I am also one of the founders of The Pink Series, an all women running series in Utah. One of the biggest accomplishments to date is completing the 2014 Coeur d’ Alene Ironman when my baby was 5 months old.I have completed 4 Full Ironmans, 10 Marathons (2 being Boston) and many half ironmans, half marathons, etc. I currently spread my love for health, nutrition and running at www.discoveryourhappy.com (soon to be www.4CoreFit.com) where we train, teach and help others accomplish their goals too!!!

Running and working out in general has to be one of the most controversial subjects to talk about. Everyone has an opinion on what works, what doesn’t, what you should or shouldn’t be doing, etc. Those of us who are big into fitness take a lot of flack from outsiders. We hear comments like, “How do you do that with being a mom?” or “Don’t you think it is a little much?” Sometimes you can just sense the disapproval in someone’s voice. Well take those comments and combine it with being pregnant…you can only imagine the things people would say.  For the most part I believe it was coming from a place of concern but there were some along my path that I completely wrote off and paid zero attention to because their intention was to hurt and hinder any form of healthy thing I wanted to attempt during my pregnancy. At one point I even had someone send me an article about miscarriage and running. WTH!?!

Iphone4 492I am here to tell you that you don’t need to run a marathon or do an ironman like I did while you were pregnant but there is something to be said about staying active. So many women these days use pregnancy as an excuse to eat more food, sleep more and move less. It seems contradicting to me. What a great time it is to celebrate health. Our bodies are capable of creating another human…we create life so love and take care of the amazing tool that you have been given to do this…your body. Part of loving your body is being active.

I wanted to share with you some things or tips that I think helped me to stay motivated and fit during my pregnancy. To be honest, it wasn’t easy on a lot of days, especially in the early stages of pregnancy. I was more tired, I felt nauseous or I wanted to puke mid run. Sometimes I wanted to cry but I was so grumpy that I felt all confused and perplexed. But as crazy as it sounds I knew all these things were normal! Staying active actually helped me conquer most of these things and stay happy and positive…until the last few weeks and nothing helps then! ☺

Tip #1: Exercise in general is safe and healthy for most women during Pregnancy.  It is important to know this! You don’t need to be afraid of hurting your baby if you exercise, unless otherwise told from a doctor! The American College of OBGYN stated several benefits of prenatal exercise which include reduction of backaches, constipation and swelling. Sign me up for that!! I am a runner so I already knew about the mood-enhancing benefits – those endorphins did wonders! Running also provides benefits in endurance and strength which you will draw on during labor…I know I did!!

Tip #2 : Light at the end of the Tunnel.  The first trimester is tough with exhaustion and nausea but generally those symptoms will go away. It does get better!!  And for most runs in the first trimester I felt sick and puky during the first few miles but it went away. As the day went on I had more energy and actually felt better. I also had the mindset that I would have felt the same way laying in bed, wishing I was running. Actually on the days I chose to do just that I actually felt more sick and had less energy. Go figure!  Don’t let a bad day or morning get you down!

Tip #3: Go for Duration and not Mileage. I honestly didn’t start doing this until the end of my pregnancy. I went into my pregnancy almost fully trained for the Full Ironman Distance which is Swimming 2.4 miles, Biking 112 miles and then Running 26.2 miles. During my pregnancy I successfully completed one full Ironman, one half Ironman, two marathons (including the NY marathon at 7  months pregnant) and a handful of half marathons. But even with how much I did, I did get slower throughout my pregnancy. My body changed and things shifted and so did my focus. Remember it is about you & your babies health and not winning a race. Racing for me changed during this time and not one of those races was a Personal Best. I was out there for the pure enjoyment of celebrating my health and that I was able to do this with my sweet baby boy right inside my belly.

Tip #4: Stick with what your body is used to. I am a runner and triathlete…that is what I do. I do lift weights twice a week but that is it.  A friend was having a birthday celebration and we were all going to go to a kick boxing class…I was about 30 weeks pregnant at the time and let me tell you…no Bueno. It hurt so bad to do those kicks and jump and everything. My body was not used to that form of exercise and I paid for it. Pregnancy is not a time to begin a training program. You will be find throughout your pregnancy if you just continue to do what you are already doing you will be fine! And a good rule of thumb here is not to exceed your pre-pregnancy intensity and always check in with your doctor regarding your workout habits.

Tip #5: Listen to your body. Fitness includes both your physical ability and mental strength. Endurance racing is easily 50% mental. Pregnancy is a great time to refine your mind-body connection and really learn to listen to your body – knowing how hard you can push and when you need to stop. I ran a strong marathon at St. George when I was 6 months pregnant. I finished with a time of 3:17. I kept my heart rate in check and felt great the whole time. During the race and the training up to it, I noticed that whenever I started pushing 6 min/mi paces that I would start getting Braxton Hicks. So that was my bodies way of telling me to back off. So pay attention to those signs! For the most part, I thoroughly enjoyed doing tempo & long runs during my pregnancy. I got really good at picking the right pace for me and I could feel when I needed to back off. Your body will have signs and will show them to you! It got slower and slower throughout the 9 months but I kept moving!!! It is also so important to recognize when you need a rest day, pregnant or not!

All in all, pregnancy is a time of celebration! Continue to set goals, continue to love your body, stay off the scale and learn to feel great with the changes that are happening. Learn to adjust to what your body is telling you and enjoy the miles you can put in with you and your baby. Don’t try to break any records and definitely do not give in to the negativity that will surround you as you try to continue your health and workout routine while pregnant.

And just to note, my third pregnancy, which was my most recent, I was the most active. I had the healthiest of any of my pregnancies, I carried my baby the longest, had no bed rest (as I had in my first 2 pregnancies), had my biggest and healthiest baby (by 1 ½ pounds), it was my best labor (no stiches required at all!!) and my easiest recovery by far (I started running 2 weeks after my baby.  I started REALLY slow and it was 2 miles). I am still about 5 pounds heavier than when I got pregnant but I believe as you continue to stay active during your pregnancy your body will change. You build muscles different and for me it is a good change and I am embracing it. I love motherhood. I love running. I love that I was able to combine the two of them during my pregnancy and celebrate life!!

 

 

How One Mom Had an Easy Labor and Quick Recovery by Exercising During Pregnancy

exercising during pregnancy

Are you aware of the benefits of exercising during pregnancy? Read these tips from fit mom ambassador, Charlotte. 

My name is Charlotte and I work full time as a Finance Manager but in my ‘spare time’ I work as Les Mills Body Pump and RPM instructor and Personal Trainer based in London, UK. I have a huge passion for fitness and helping others to achieve their goals. I have been cardio and strength training for about 12 years now and I recently gave birth to my first child so would like to share my experience of pregnancy and fitness, what I did and how is that helping me now. 

Before I became pregnant, I never really thought about pregnancy and fitness but the more I researched and gained ‘advice’ from varying sources, the more I realised how little knowledge is out there and more worryingly, how different it can be depending on who you talk to.

I hope that by banging the drum for fitness in pregnancy and putting my money where my mouth is, I will encourage and inspire other ladies to do the same. 

So lets get to the nitty gritty…. my experience. I lost count how many people asked me if I needed to stop, if my husband allows me to continue (are you kidding me?!), don’t I need to take it easy? For some reason in this country, pregnant women are treated as if they are sick and must be wrapped in cotton wool.

When I first went to the doctors to confirm my pregnancy, I was told that I should not be lifting more than 10kg, now I would not mind if I have never lifted weights before but that is pump warm up weight for me and there was no way I would be stood in front of a class of people, hoping to inspire and be a role model, squatting with 10kg! I would have rather not taught than teach with that. However the real key issue here is that this is actually incorrect advice but coming from a GP, most women being told that would follow the advice and then here lies the problem.

So what can you do in pregnancy?

Pretty much what you have been doing before pregnancy!

Basically the key here is to be as fit and strong as you can before you get pregnant as this will dictate what level you can continue at in pregnancy.  As long as you have an uncomplicated pregnancy and no contraindications you should be able to continue at the same level for at least the first trimester.  You may then need to reduce weights and/or intensity in the second and third trimesters but only by a small amount at a time. In terms of reducing weights, each trimester, current guidelines suggest only a 5-10% decrease per trimester. So taking Body Pump, if you are squatting 20kg, 5% of that is just 1kg, not a massive difference really but the tendency is to back off way too early.

Another factor to consider is not to overheat in the first trimester meaning raising your core temperature, however again, if your body is used to it and fitter women have a greater efficiency to dissipate heat (and you are in a studio with aircon!) you should be fine.

That’s not to say though that even if are not a huge exerciser before pregnancy, you can still begin to exercise whilst pregnant but you will need guidance and supervision.

Why exercise in pregnancy?

Well the question should be, why wouldn’t you?

Key benefits include

  • 30% shorted active labour (trust me, when you get there you will want that!!)
  • Better self esteem and confidence with a changing body shape.
  • Able to sleep better
  • Can help with postural problems that pregnancy can bring with a growing abdomen.
  • Quicker recovery time post birth.
  • Reduced chance of interventions in birth such as being induced and forceps delivery
  • Reduce excessive weight gain.
  • Reduce the risk of pregnancy induced hypertension
  • Can reduce fatigue and nausea, particularly in the first trimester
  • Can help reduce anxiety and depression
  • Can help women cope with the demands of being a new mum post birth
  • Improves circulation and blood flow
  • Improves cardio vascular fitness and muscular strength and endurance

One of my favourite comments was ‘relax, just enjoy it’! Implying that by exercising through pregnancy I was not enjoying it and that I had to be lazy? Umm yes….not sure you get me…

So what did I do? I carried on training 4-5 times a week, mainly strength and cardio but also teaching RPM and Body pump once a week. I did stop running around 16 weeks as I found it pulled the ligaments in my pelvis and also when you need the loo every two minutes, running with an orange on your bladder is not what you want so I swapped the run for the cross trainer.

I stopped lunging as again I found they pulled my pelvis but swapped these for squats and kept my feet slightly wider.

So how did all this affect my pregnancy?

  • I gained the recommended amount of weight (between 10kg and 12kg) by the end of my pregnancy.
  • Every time I went for a check up my heart rate, blood pressure and Ethan’s heart rate were in the correct ranges.
  • I went into labour on my own at 39 weeks
  • My active labour (the push bit) was 3.5 hours
  • I had gas and air as pain relief and no intervention
  • I was up and about after a day
  • 2.5 weeks after giving birth, I weigh just 2kg heavier than I did pre pregnancy and have not yet resumed full training.
  • And yes, my waters did break in the gym (no joke!)
2.5 weeks postpartum

2.5 weeks postpartum

There is always so much negative press about celeb mothers pinging back into shape quickly with comments such as not ’real’ women and they should be home looking after the baby rather than in the gym.  It’s got nothing to do with being a real woman (whatever that means), it’s about looking after your body and being the best you can be for your new addition and for yourself.

Would you tell me I’m not real? Looking after a new born is hard work and you are on call 24/7 so I don’t think there is anything wrong with a woman taking an hour out of her day to look after herself.

Pregnant ladies exercising should be encouraged by their friends and family and by society not criticised or made to feel uncomfortable.

When it comes to it, you will want to be as fit as you can. After all they don’t call it labour for nothing and that’s just the beginning…. :)

Ambassador Spotlight: Ali Damron

Ali Damron

We are honored to have some amazing For Two Fitness Fit Mom Ambassadors. Over the next few months, we will be featuring several of these ladies in an “Ambassador Spotlight” post so you can get to know them too! 

Meet Ali Damron.

What is the theme of your blog?

Motherhood, Fitness, Lifestyle

How many kiddos do you have?

1 little boy

What do you do for a living?

Acupuncturist

What is your favorite fit pregnancy or postpartum workout?

Walking, running, yoga and circuit training

What is your favorite food?

Pancakes!

Do you have any hobbies?

Running, blogging, hiking, podcasting

Where is your favorite vacation destination?

Hawaii

What other interesting facts would you like to share with our readers?

I have traveled to Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand!

Eating Clean While Pregnant

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Are you committed to eating clean while pregnant? Read fit mom ambassador, Upala’s, great tips below. 

My husband and I have been happily married for almost eight years and I am a mom to a beautiful and energetic six month old girl. I am currently an online fitness and nutrition coach. I love helping and motivating people to reach their goals. My biggest joy is seeing the excitement in people when they have accomplished their fitness goals. I love discussing anything about fitness and nutrition with everyone around me!

Everyone asked me how I was able to eat clean while I was pregnant. Honestly this wasn’t a big transition for me because I was eating clean prior to pregnancy. I believe that everyone should be eating clean but it’s extra important for pregnant ladies to eat healthy. We need to be doing everything we can for that little baby growing inside of us. Eating healthy during pregnancy will also help the baby’s immunity once they are born.

Unfortunately, I did have quite a bit of morning sickness (yeah right, more like all day sickness ) during the first trimester. I was craving a lot of carbs, desserts and unhealthy foods. I was determined to continue to eat healthy even if I was craving junk food. Instead of white carbs I ate ezeickel bread, tortilla and English muffins. To satisfy my dessert craving I came up with some healthier dessert options. I had banana ice cream with strawberries or a few pieces of dark chocolate chips. I made the banana ice cream by blending a banana in a blender with almond milk and then freezing the mixture.

Unfortunately, the sight and smell of vegetables made my nausea worse. The only thing I was able to eating was spinach leaves. All of a sudden my morning sickness went away after the first trimester.

After the nausea was gone all of my unhealthy cravings went away also. From the second trimester on I did not have any problems eating clean and I went back to my normal eating habits.

I highly recommend that women start eating clean prior to pregnancy because it does take some time to get used to the change. It is not something that happens overnight. You will slowly have to change your diet everyday. You can’t just go cold turkey and cut everything out because you will feel deprived.

When you feel deprived, you binge later on unhealthy foods.

Don’t let people tell you that “you are eating for two.” At the same time, you should never starve or deprive yourself of eating when you are hungry during pregnancy. All doctors will tell you that you only need a few hundred extra calories per trimester. If you are extremely hungry, the key is to eat healthy food, not junk food. There were many times late at night during pregnancy when I was very hungry. At that time I ate chicken, vegetables and a spoon of humus.

With a lot of dedication and self control with food and exercise I only gained 23 lbs during pregnancy. I lost all of the weight with 2 1⁄2 weeks and I was back in my pre pregnancy clothes. I am telling you this because I want all of the ladies to know that is possible to stay healthy during pregnancy and bounce back very quickly after giving birth. All I had to do to stay focused with my eating and exercise was to think about my little baby.

I do all of this so I can stay healthy and energetic for my family. I need all of the energy right now so I can keep up with my six month old baby girl. I want to encourage and lead by example for my family, friends and everyone else around me.

How Exercise Helped Me Get Pregnant with PCOS

Exercise and PCOS

Do you struggle with a metabolic disorder? Read Samantha’s tips below about how she committed to a healthy lifestyle and was able to get pregnant with the help of exercise to regulate PCOS.

Hi, my name is Samantha and I am a 32 year old mother of a 2 year old with my second child on the way. I started my running and fitness journey in 2011 to get pregnant with my first child and was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, also known as PCOS. It is one of the most common reasons for infertility and is also one that can be controlled. PCOS ultimately is a problem with hormones becoming out of balance which can lead to other health problems.

So when I was diagnosed with PCOS while trying to get pregnant with my first child, my doctor gave me the best treatment plan instead of pushing medications. He told me I had to do 30 minutes of cardio exercise everyday and that was my treatment and not an option! While I took him seriously, I was also working 12+ hour days. I tried fitting in the exercise by starting to more regularly run, walk, and cycle, but I did not do it every day. I took Metformin, which is a diabetes medication, to help along the process since we had been actively trying to get pregnant for a while. We were fortunate enough to get pregnant a couple months later due to the exercise and medication combination.

After having my daughter, I decided that I would continue to work on eating healthy and working out consistently. Not only does the PCOS cause small issues, but it also puts me at a higher risk for long term health issues like diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, strokes, and uterine cancer.​

No brainer there. I do not want to deal with any of these health problems as I get older.

If you’re reading this and have PCOS, I’m going to be perfectly honest and tell you it’s hard to get it under control and you need to be seriously committed. My friends and family think I exercise and run all the time, but quite frankly, that’s what I have to do for my health. I have learned a lot about how healthy eating and exercise truly affect the body, especially of a female since our bodies are quite different from males.

Exercise and PCOSNow this is what I was doing to get pregnant on my own because yes, you can get PCOS under control with dedication. I run 3-4 times a week and do cross training workouts with a group 2-3 days a week. And when I say I run, I mean more than you’re probably thinking. I run 3-4 miles at least and do a long run on the weekend of 6+ miles. The month before I got pregnant, the long run I did for 3 weeks were half marathons of 13.1 miles and 1 week it was 18.9 miles during a Ragnar Relay. My cross training workouts are 45 minutes to an hour long of a boot camp/strength workout, and I would take 1 day a week as a rest day where I did not do anything.

I finally started enjoying it, so that has tremendously helped. I am still working out and running while pregnant and plan to as long as I can. I have a great doctor’s office where I see a different midwife or doctor each time, and they all encourage me to keep doing what I have been, with a few minor modifications, until my body says stop. While I have slowed down on the runs these past weeks because of nausea, fatigue, and the high temperatures where I live, I have been able to continue going to my cross training class.

Oh by the way, I ran a half at 7 weeks, a trail 10K at 8 weeks, a 5K at 9 weeks, a 10K at 10 weeks, and a 5K/obstacle course at 11 weeks. I guess I deserved to relax for a few weeks! At 26 weeks, I am getting ready to run/walk a 10K and half marathon in the same weekend as my final big race until my due date.

If you have PCOS, I encourage you to talk with your doctor, do some research, and get out there to exercise. And if you don’t, I still encourage you to learn more about how your body uses foods and how exercise affects the functions of your body. You will probably be amazed.

Enjoy Your Adventure,
Samantha

This is not intended as medical advice, as this is my personal experience. Please speak to your medical professional with any health concerns you have.

 

Fitness During a Second Pregnancy

Fitness during a second pregnancy

So you’re pregnant, for the second time. You have one child to care for, and another one on the way. How do you maintain your fitness during a second pregnancy? Read Molly’s tips below!

Hi! My name is Molly and I have a one and a half year old son and a daughter due this fall. I am also a PhD student at Purdue and blog about my fitness and life experiences at joggingwithjack.com. Working and studying at a desk, I especially appreciate the time I make for body movement, and am fortunate to lead others in their pursuit of fitness and health as a an indoor cycle and TRX instructor.

Fitness during pregnancy is arguably more important than fitness at any time during your life. Many doctors claim that staying fit during pregnancy can lead to an easier delivery and quicker recover. Sign me up! Despite changes in my body and waffling energy levels during my first pregnancy, I was very focused on staying as much “like me” as possible and making fitness a priority. 

A second pregnancy is different in many ways. Mainly, I am not as hyper-focused on myself and on being pregnant. I feel so much love for this baby, but often forget that I’m pregnant until I feel a kick. I can only image how much different third pregnancies and beyond feel!

Fitness during a second pregnancy

With a toddler who demands as much attention as I will give him, I have fewer opportunities for downtime. I have found that making fitness a priority first thing in the morning makes me consistent and gives me more energy throughout the day. Sure, the 5:30 am wake-ups can be rough, but being able to start the day with some time of my own feels like a treat. I also take advantage of as much family active time as possible. My husband, son and I love to go for runs together (love that jogging stroller!), bring the TRX to the park to mix playtime with fitness time, and take the little one on the back of our bikes for evening bike rides. We all get some outside time and are showing our son that fitness is a fun part of our lives.

That being said, prenatal fitness the second (or third or fourth) time around might requires some adjustments. Here are my recommendations to make your fitness journey successful:

  1. Make your fitness a priority and set dates with yourself to meet your goals. Let your partner know about your goals so that you can get support as needed.
  2. Choose fitness activities that you enjoy and are a treat to yourself. If you’re going to be away from adorable little faces, it might as well be for something really fun.
  3. Involve your family. It might be easier to bring your little people along rather than arranging for outside care, plus they will likely have a great time sweating with you.
  4. Don’t be afraid to modify your activities as your body changes and your energy fluctuates – even if you didn’t have to the first time around. Runs starting to feel wonky the second trimester? Try an indoor cycle class for your cardio.
  5. Don’t look to set any new goals. This is good maintenance time until delivery or “race day”.

Happy and healthy pregnancy, fitness mamas!

Ab Exercises During Pregnancy

Ab Exercises During Pregnancy

Are you sure that it will be helpful to do ab exercises during pregnancy, but not certain which moves are safe? Read these great tips from Kimberly about ab exercises during pregnancy.

The hands on the lower back, the belly pressed forward, the grimace on the face. The pregnancy pose would be cliché if it weren’t so true.

The additional weight, change in posture, hormones and muscle separation can cause lower back pain – sometimes severe – in moms-to-be. While it could be easy to chalk it up as just another pregnancy symptom (like going to the bathroom umpteen times at night), the pain can be eased – if not prevented.

How?

Regular exercise, especially moves to strengthen the trunk of the body. Beginning while trying to conceive and continuing as pregnancy allows, core-specific work can improve strength and support the lower back. The bonus? The focus on the core can help make labor easier and help the body bounce back after birth.

Here are five exercises to try during any state of pre-pregnancy and pregnancy:

Bird dog. This exercise activates the transverse abdominis, the inner muscle of the core, and helps stabilize the low back. It’s performed on all fours, with wrists underneath shoulders and knees underneath hips. Extend one arm out and lift the opposite leg. Hold for seven to eight seconds and return to starting. Switch sides. Be sure to tighten the core to keep the hips stable. Try to do two sets of 12 to 15 reps (per side).

Side plank. A side plank works the obliques, which are on the side of the trunk. Lie on your side with your forearm on the ground and elbow underneath the shoulder. Lift the hips to create a straight line. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat three times on each side. Plank. Once in the second trimester, pregnant women cannot lie in the supine position, which is the starting point for many ab exercises. The plank allows women to continue building muscular endurance for as long as they are comfortable. With forearms on the ground, palms flat on the ground and elbows underneath shoulders, lift the hips and create a neutral spine. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat three times.

Supported leg extension. With the spine supported on a Bosu trainer or similar equipment, pregnant women can modify more traditional exercises. The single leg extension helps engage the muscles of the lower trunk that we often forget about. In a v-position, start with feet flat on the ground. Lift one leg up and extend toward the wall. Return to starting and repeat on the other side. Try to do two sets of 12 to 15 reps (per side).

Kneeling woodchop. The woodchop is a standard ab exercise but by kneeling, one can feel a bit more stable. Kneel down. Hold a medicine ball at the starting point above the left shoulder, high and behind you, keeping the torso facing forward. Slowly, bring the medicine ball down and across your body to the right, to your right hip. Do not rotate your torso and keep your chest, hips and head facing forward. Keep the medicine ball relatively close to your body. Hold this end position briefly before returning to your starting position. Try to do two sets of 12 to 15 reps (per side).

Kimberly Truesdell is an ACE certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor. Please consult a medical doctor before beginning any exercise program. If you choose to do any of the workouts featured in this post, you do so at your own risk.

Getting back into shape after a C-section

Did you have a c-section? Are you unsure about how to get back into shape after having a c-section? Read fit mom, Chelsea’s, tips below. Chelsea is a runner and mom to 1.5 little boys. She blogs about both at theologyandgeometry.com.

Getting back into shape after a C-section:

Getting back into shape after a c-section. Like many first-time moms, I spent the weeks leading up to my son’s due date reading about labor and delivery and wondering what his birth would be like. And like many first-time moms, I wanted it to be the most “natural” experience possible. Labor would be brief and uncomplicated; he’d just slide right out. There would be smiles and cuddles and instant bonding. Angels would sing.

I was certainly not going to be one of those women who had a C-section, especially not a scheduled C-section. But then all of a sudden, at 34 weeks pregnant, I was. My little guy was in a breech position and other factors made my doctor feel it was unwise to try to turn him. And so, without (much) further ado, I found myself on an operating room table mid-afternoon one Monday in December 2012 while my baby was being born just like Julius Caesar.

Another part of my first-time -mom fantasy was that, sure I’d be a little sore and tired after delivery, but I’d be able to resume running within a few weeks of my son’s birth. I made a training plan for a 10k in March. And then I got out of bed for the first time after the operation. Do you know how hard it is to brush your teeth when, even with high-octane pain medication, you can’t move anything between your shoulders and knees? Instead of spitting, I just sort of dribbled toothpaste in the vicinity of the sink. Walking and even sitting upright during the first 18 hours after surgery were incredibly painful and exhausting. I tossed the 10k training plan in the trash.    

But then a funny thing happened – something I never believed would happen as I lay in the hospital bed, unable to reach a cup of water one inch out of my grasp. I got better. A few weeks after my delivery, I was able to go for a short walk again. Then I started run-walking and finally actually running. I made it to the starting line of that 10k in March and even ran a 1/2 marathon personal record later in November.    

Getting back into shape after a c-section.

While, everyone’s recovery is different, if you find your well-made labor and delivery plans being scrapped in favor of a date with a scalpel, fear not. Regaining and even improving fitness after a C-section is possible.

Here are a few things that helped me when I was making my comeback:

  1. Respect the fact that, in addition to brining a new human being into existence, you just had major abdominal surgery. Repeat after me, “major abdominal surgery.” You aren’t a wimp for taking pain medication. You aren’t lazy for taking 6 weeks or 8 weeks or more to recover. Keep this fact in mind when you are framing your accomplishments as you get back into shape. It may be frustrating to only be able to run a mile, but to say, “I went out and ran a mile this morning only 8 weeks after I had major abdominal surgery,” sounds pretty impressive.  
  2. Listen to your doctor. On the other hand, with all the upheaval having a new baby brings, it can be tempting to try to rush back into your old fitness routine too quickly in an attempt to feel “normal” again. However, not allowing yourself the proper recovery time after delivery can derail your fitness goals and – at worst – do serious damage to baby making parts you might want to use again in the future. A uterus is a terrible thing to waste.    
  3. As soon as you get the okay, start doing abdominal/core exercises. In the words of my operative report, “…the underlying rectus muscles were dissected off bluntly and with Mayo scissors”. That probably means my days as a belly button model for anyone other than my son (“Mommy’s bee-bo!) are over, but – leaving that aside – strong ab muscles are so important for good posture and stability. Focusing on core work early and often can help prevent aches, pains and injuries later on as you add intensity and miles.
  4. Find a good coach or training plan. Once I got the okay to run again, I started with a couch-to-5k style training plan that incorporated lots of walking and run-walk intervals and built up to 3 miles of continuous running after several weeks. In the midst of the fog of living with a newborn, it was helpful to not have to think about what I was going to do as a workout on any particular day. Plus, using a training plan encouraged me to include more variety in my workouts (cross training, strength workouts, interval training) than I normally would.      
  5. Don’t be afraid to push yourself. There is going to come a day when you are ready to workout hard again. Go for it! (Unless your doctor says otherwise.) Have faith that your ability to push your limits and make progress. It may take some time to get back into shape again, but you can do it!