exercise

Movement for Morning Sickness

For those who have endured morning sickness it is certainly not the most desirable part of pregnancy.

I can remember from my pregnancy feeling great one day and then all of a sudden the nausea hit.  I couldn't cook, smell or even think about certain foods without feeling queasy.  Fortunately it lasted for 5 weeks and I figured out ways to manage it.

But, for others this is not always the case.

So why does morning sickness happen, i.e. pregnancy nausea and vomiting.

The theory is this is how the body responses to increases levels of pregnancy hormone, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), which are at the highest during the first trimester.

Some even say that morning sickness is a sign of a strong pregnancy, because of the higher levels of hCG.

Whether you view morning sickness as reassuring or a hindrance, there are ways to remedy it.

Most of us read about the dietary remedy, like eating smaller more frequent meals that include carbohydrates and protein. Think crackers and almond butter.  Drink water with lemon or a carbonated beverage like ginger ale. Ginger tea or ginger hard candy for some also help.

What worked for me?

Movement!

I needed to stay active to keep my mind of the nausea. As soon as I stopped or didn't have my mind on something the nausea returned.

Exercising increases your endorphins which counteracts the nausea and fatigue.

So I had to figure out a way to stay active, eat enough and drink enough to stave off the nausea.

Here are my 3 tips for staying active to reduce morning sickness.

1. Go for a walk.

One of the simplest ways to stay active during pregnancy is going for walks. You can go by yourself, with                your partner or a friend. I only requires a good pair of sneakers and 20 minutes of time.

Plus if you did not exercise prior to your pregnancy, walking is a great way to start. It is a low impact exercise with high impact results.

But remember this is not "walking your dog" or "strolling with your toddler" walk, which if you're like me stopping rather frequently for them to explore.

You want to keep up a comfortable pace, where you can still talk with normal breathing, and can keep it up for at least 20 minutes without it feeling easy.

2. Get in some upper body stretches

If you're nausea is like mine, you get a little knot right at the base of your sternum. Almost like a vice grip tightening down on your stomach.

Since the path of our esophagus runs through our diaphragm I found it very helpful to do stretches that opened up my diaphragm.  This gave my stomach space, released any tension built up around the nausea and helped the flow of lymphatic fluid.

Watch the video below for a quick sequence that helped me out!

WATCH ME!

3. Deep breath

Deep breathing with gentle pelvic floor and tummy contractions is another way to target the diaphragm and increase muscle activation to improve endorphins.

Think of it as the beginning of giving your baby hugs.

You can do this sitting, standing, lying down, or moving.

Place your hands on your tummy, breathe in through your nose then slowly exhale out your mouth as you perform a 30% pelvic floor contraction (think stop pee) and flatten your tummy but gently engaging your abs.

Do this 5 to 10 times whenever you feel nauseas.

These were all incredibly helpful for me to manage my nausea.

If you want to learn more about how to stay active during pregnancy, sign up for more tips here.

Breastfeeding...Tips to Reduce Upper Back Ache

My first experience breastfeeding was in an ER.

My delivery was pretty by the book. I went into labor Friday night, I was able to sleep between the contractions, we were up by around 7:00 am and two hours later I was to the point I couldn't stay home anymore.  We arrived at the independent Birth Center by 9:00 am.

I tried the tub...man was that hot and not for me...even though I LOVE water.

But clearly my body was saying, nope and I respected that.

Instead I climbed into the queen sized bed and pushed on my hands and knees.

Everything was going well, as far as I could tell...even though I joke with my husband that I only dropped the f-bomb once, he chuckles and says if you say so.

But even though I was in pain I was riding the waves of it, resting in between and in a total state of euphoria.

It was REALLY hard work, but I have a hard time describing just how painful and hard of work it was even just 3 years later.

Mostly, I remember things being in a haze around me, the midwives encouraging me, my husband by my side, my mom helping me stay hydrated.

But then, everything changed.

The midwives had me flip onto my back. They insisted I get my baby out.

So after a few pushes her head emerged.

This is when things really get blurry.

Apparently, unlike other circumstances when the umbilical cord is wrapped around a newborns neck it can be removed or does so on it's own during decent.

This was not the case for our little one.

I was strangling her with every push and if I had kept going she may not be here with us today.

This is why the midwives think it took me as long as it did to actually get her head out.

So instead of being able to keep her cord connected as long as possible, as my plan intended, they needed to cut it even before she was fully delivered.

I had 30 SECONDS to get her out after they cut the cord!

Well let me tell you there was no amount of time you could have told me to get my baby out if I knew her life was on the line.

Needless to say with that last push, she was born and I tore.

They placed her on my belly and told my husband and I to rub her vigorously to try to get her to cry.

This didn't work.

They removed her from my belly and had to perform rescue breathing on her to get her to breath.

It has been 3 years and I still tear up thinking about how our vivacious, head strong, wonderful daughter may not be with us, if my awesome midwives hadn't been on the ball.

Within minutes the ambulance came to pick her up and bring her to the hospital.

I was not able to go with her because I tore and needed stitches before I left.

So last I saw her was partially limp, but breathing on  the bed next to me.

My husband followed the ambulance and my mom stayed with me as I was cleaned up.

When I arrived at the hospital, the nurse at the ER desk didn't seem very concerned that there was a newborn infant waiting for her mother in one of the rooms and it felt like eternity to get me back to her.

My midwife was not impressed and rather cross.

When we finally arrived, my husband had our daughter all bundled up and was letting her suck on his finger with sugar water.

The whole time I was being cleaned up and driven over to the hospital and then waiting to be reunited, I was petrified that I wouldn't be able to breastfeed because we had been away from each other too long.

I climbed into an ER bed, in a dark room tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the other goings on and my daughter was handled to me.

When I held her to my breast, it felt so awkward and she seemed so tiny that I was fumbling. But my midwives again encouraged me my daughter latched.

It was a miracle.

We were fortunate that we had no issues nursing, after I was so terrified that I wouldn't be able to.

We went on an nursed for 2 years.

I can't say that through those 2 years it was all sunshine and roses though.

Hello teething!!!

She never really bit, but holy cow her suck became so strong to sooth those tender gums.

But the trickiest part for me was finding positions that wouldn't hurt my neck and back.

She was a nurse to sleep kind of girl.

And sometimes, she would stay nestled in my arms for hours and any time I moved she would scream.

So if I wanted her to nap, I needed to stay put in my rocker.

Fortunately, we found a super comfy glider, rocker combo with ottoman, but even that wasn't enough.

I had pillows galore and would stuff them in all the crevices to get me from slouching down to meet her.

This helped, but still my muscles would ache.

Of course being the physical therapist that I am, I was determined to stop the ache.

This meant not only making sure my posture was in good alignment or that I switched up the position I was in so I wasn't always using the same muscles but I stretched.

I stretched my neck, chest, upper back, hips and buttocks after every feeding.

But stretching isn't enough to make sure you don't slouch. Our core plays a HUGE roll in our posture. After pregnancy and birth our core muscles have to heal, shrink, and remind themselves what their roll is.

Most of the time, they need our help.

This meant when I was sitting or lying down or standing while nursing I did sets of pelvic floor and core exercises.

Some of you may question me when I say exercise, when I not breaking a sweat.

But exercising a muscle does not always require us to be jumping around or moving our whole body to gain benefit.

Actually, in the postpartum period smaller, slower, more intimate exercises will help you heal and get back to those more intense, vigorous exercises without long term issues.

So to recap my tips:

  1. Make sure you are in good posture while breastfeeding. This means if you are sitting - not sitting on your tailbone, bringing the baby to your breast and supporting with as many pillows as necessary. If you are lying down try to switch up the sides you lay on and again prop baby until she is big enough to not need support. If you are standing, the easiest way to breastfeed a newborn without a carrier is in football hold.
  2. Stretch. Tight muscles will lock in the chemicals that help our muscles to work, but over time this build up and constant shortening and pulling on the joints will cause pain. So balance out your muscle by stretching those that are most shortened while nursing. Try out these!
  3. Work on your Core. Starting simple and easy with breathing exercises is the best way to reacquaint yourself with your core. If you had pelvic floor trauma or a cesarean this reconnection may take longer and you may need help from a specialist to figure out what muscles your are targeting and if there is anything may be inhibiting your reconnection, like scar adhesions. Check this video out!

To find out more about proper nursing postures, postpartum stretches and reconnecting to you core sign up here for your free consultation with a maternal pelvic health specialist.

Top 5 Tips to Improve Energy During Pregnancy

During this pregnancy I have been more tired and less motivated to participate in my life.

But as a mom of  3 year old, a wife who is helping my husband finalize renovations on our house and someone who loves life, this is not an option.

So I have dug down deeper than usual to find the energy.

Here are my TOP 5 TIPS TO IMPROVE ENERGY DURING PREGNANCY

  1. EXERCISE

Exercise has so many awesome benefits, one being improved energy levels. During pregnancy, our blood volume increases, which means our heart works harder to pump and our red blood cells may not keep up with the nutritional demand our body needs.

Exercise improves our body's ability to create more red blood cells to keep up with the growing demand on our body. Thus, the more balanced our red blood cell count and blood volume is the easier it is for our body to stay nourished.

Exercise also, improves our muscular, respiratory, and cardiovascular endurance. If you're muscles feel sluggish and lazy, it may be your endurance is lacking. So stepping out for a 30 minute brisk walk 5-7 times a week will get your muscles revved up to work for efficiently for you the rest of your day.

Lastly, exercise works your respiratory diaphragm. Meaning, when you work out your "breathing" muscle you get more oxygen to your body. Plus, you won't feel so winded once baby starts to take up more space.

2. NAP

I find that by the mid afternoon I start to fade. Since my daughter no longer takes a nap (at home) I can't rely on a break to rest.

So lately, if she is unable to occupy herself for 10-20 minutes I will lie down on the couch with her and put on one of her fave TV shows.

This gives me the opportunity to close my eyes when I have her wrapped in my arms, so I know she isn't in an unsafe situation.

So I'm giving you permission to give yourself a break with your older children and turn on the TV.

3. EAT A WELL BALANCED DIET

Even though our body does not require extra calories until the third trimester, we still need to be aware of what we eat.

I always love the idea of eating the RAINBOW!

By focusing on variety of fruits and veggies in all sorts of colors you know you are getting a wide variety of nutrients.

Then based on your choice of diet, meat, vegetarian, vegan, etc, make sure you research the does and don't of certain foods. For example, there are certain fish that are safe to eat and are recommended during pregnancy being of the fatty acid benefits.

Sometimes nausea and cravings can make a balanced diet really challenging, so work with a professional to make sure you are staying on target.

4. HYDRATE

Our bodies are make up of 75% water. This increases during pregnancy.  So if our body doesn't have enough H2O to perform the necessary tasks to be active then our body will start to shut down.

Our body will send our signs, like fatigue, headaches, muscle cramps, to tell us something is up.

Paying attention to these signs and figuring out what component of healthy living is missing may save you from more discomfort in the future.

5. MAKE SURE YOUR VITAMIN AND MINERAL LEVELS OF A-OK

Our body runs on chemical processes that require certain amounts of vitamins and minerals. When these levels are unbalanced our body may not be able to perform at peak.

For example, IRON, is a very common mineral to be deficient in during pregnancy...case in point...ME.

But iron is very important for transporting oxygen through the body (hemoglobin) which causes fatigue and normal processes like brain function. During pregnancy iron deficiency anemia can cause the baby to come to early or be smaller than normal.

Knowing your base levels prior to conceiving or very early on in pregnancy will help you boost your stores of all the necessary Vitamins and Minerals.

If diet isn't enough chat with your provider or meet with a licensed dietician about supplements.

Staying on top of these areas will really help our body as it changes with the growing demands of baby.

Don't get discouraged if you are already in your third trimester, you can start any time to make small changes that can last a life time.

If you're feeling overwhelmed and want some help getting started with a safe and efficient exercise program, or want to learn how to transition your exercise program into your pregnancy, I can help. Sign up here for you complimentary consultation.

LISTEN, RESPECT AND HONOR WHAT YOUR BODY IS TELLING YOU!!!

7 Pregnancy Exercise Myths Debunked

There can be a lot of overwhelming information regarding staying active and exercising during pregnancy.  Your friends and family may tell you something that is different from you provider...who's right?

Many people are still following the old American College of Gynecology (ACOG) guidelines for exercise during pregnancy, when these guidelines have been revised. Or are making suggestions when there is no evidence to support the action because they don't know what else to do.

I'm here to walk you through some common myths about exercising during pregnancy to reassure you what is safe.

As always, you'll want to discuss your current health status with your OB or midwife prior to starting a new exercise regime to make sure you don't have any of the conditions that make certain exercise during pregnancy unsafe.*

So let's get right to it...

Myth 1

You need to keep you target heart rate at or below 140 beats per minute.

This is an old guideline.  During pregnancy your heart rate increases naturally because of the cardiovascular changes that occur to accommodate the growing fetus. So for many women it won't take much activity to increase above 140 bpm.

A better way to monitor exertion is the "talk test". If you can say a full sentence without gasping for air or overheating your ok.  Another considering is if you were exercising pre-pregnancy, you can keep do the same activity because your body is used to it. However, you may need to modify based on how you feel and safety, like not running outside in the winter when it's icy.

Myth 2

You can't lie on your back to exercise after the second trimester.

During pregnancy you are constantly told "don't lie on your back, lie on your left side."  This is because the weight of the growing uterus and fetus presses down on a large artery and vein in the abdomen and can slow or cut off blood flow to your body.

The best thing to do is listen to your body, if you feel light headed or nauseas whenever you lie on your back, avoid this position.

For those who feel fine on your back here are a few modifications you can do:

  • Perform one or two exercises then roll onto your side and perform a few on your side or on hands and knees.  Then you can return to your back.
  • Fold up some blankets to make a "ramp" or incline.  Lying on an incline where your head is highest reduces the weight on your abdomen, so you can perform more exercises. (psst, this is also a great way to sleep if you have heartburn!)

Myth 3

Too much exercise will take away nutrients from your baby.

When we are pregnant our bodies number one job is to provide for the growing baby.  Everything we ingest will go to the baby first then to us.

This is why it is important to get the appropriate amounts of calories, protein, vitamins and minerals, so we don't loss out on our own nutrition. For those who exercise, this is even more important because we burn more calories by having a higher metabolism.

But our bodies will let the baby starve.  Our gauge if you are getting enough nutrition is if you start to loss weight (if you are exercising and not vomiting daily).  That means you personally are not getting in enough calories and need to boost your intake.

Myth 4

You need to stop running when you are pregnant.

Running is one of those activities that many people do if they exercise or at least aspire to do.  If you were a runner pre-pregnancy keep running girl.  Just take care to listen to your body.  Here are some things to do to stay safe while pregnant:

  • Where appropriate sized shoes to accommodate swelling.
  • Always double knot your laces to avoid tripping.
  • Avoid outdoor running during the winter...ICE is not your friend.
  • Avoid outdoor running when it is super humid..during pregnancy we have a harder time regulating heat, so the best thing to do is run in the early morning or late evening during the summer.
  • Wear loose fitting, comfortable clothing to help with heat dissipation.
  • Bring water...there are some great small strapped hand held water bottles.

If you did not run before pregnancy, I would advice against starting up now, but substitute it with walking to get your cardiovascular. Then work on your running goal post birth, when you've been checked out by a specialist PT to make sure your body is ready.

Myth 5

You can't exercise when on bed rest.

The current ACOG guidelines advice to avoid any form of exercise during a high risk pregnancy.  However, it also states that exercise can prevent or reduce the risk of some of the same complications it lists as high risk, such as pre-eclampsia.

However, since pregnancy is a musculoskeletal event being placed on bed rest for your and your babies safety may lead to even high risks during birth and after.  When you are not able to stay active your muscles start to atrophy, this reduces your stamina and strength.  Both of which you need for birth and to take care of your new baby. You may also see a loss in bone density, which may lead to a increased risk of postnatal osteoporosis.

Studies are now supporting moms continue normal activity with rest through the day rather than full bed rest because of the number of side effects and no evidence that bed rest actually helps.

So if you are placed on bed rest, ask your practitioner if it is truly the best course of action and if they are adamant then demand to see a specialist PT for prescribed exercises.

Since bed rest can mean varying levels of inactivity, this will effect what exercises are okay to do. There are easy, gentle, and safe exercises that you can do while in bed or don'e require you to be jumping around, to keep up your strength, stamina, flexibility, and mood.

Myth 6

Ab crunches are safe to do.

I'm a little biased with this one, because I don't believe anyone should be doing ab crunches.  They put a lot of strain on the spine and can actually increase the intra-abominal pressure which can lead to pelvic floor dysfunction and back pain.

However, people want "tight" abs.  Well, ladies, you'll get tight abs during pregnancy, it's called they stretch out and become hard because of the growing baby.

Doing ab crunches is a sure way to increase your risk of a diastasis recti abdominus (DRA) post birth. Every time your pull into a crunch the linea alba, that tissue that connects the two sides of your abdominals is pulled apart.  So add that pull to the stretch that is naturally happening with the growth of your baby and that is a recipe for abdominal separation.

The best thing to do is avoid ab crunches and do core cylinder exercises that target the transverse abdominus and pelvic floor.  These muscles will reduce your risk of a DRA post birth, as well as a myriad of other "mom" problems like incontinence.

Myth 7

Exercising will make you more exhausted.

The opposite is actually true.  Exercising improves your stamina and energy levels by increasing your metabolism and endorphins.

So by getting in the recommended 30 minutes of moderate activity a day you'll be improving not only your chances for a better recovery from birth but also your energy level.

As always, check in with your practitioner or a maternal specialist PT prior to starting any new exercise routine during pregnancy.

I leave you with some benefits to exercise...

  • Improved energy
  • Faster recovery time after birth
  • Easier birth
  • Reduced low back pain
  • Reduced chances of complications - gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, etc.
  • Regulates weight gain

Happy exercising!!!