What to Do when Baby is Breech

Finding out your baby is breech can be an emotional experience.

I know for my friend who just gave birth, the last few months were filled with anxiety and doing everything possible to get baby to turn. As her due date approached, she slowly began to accept that baby may know best for position, even though she continued to work hard to give baby the opportunity to move into a head down position.

For most of us, even if we don’t know why, we know that the best way for baby to be born is head first.

Sticking with the physical aspects of birth, having the head birth first follows the natural curve of the spine and allows the body to follow along smoothly.

However, when baby is feet or bum first, this does not happen.

Since the dawn of cesarean birth, babies who are [known to be] breech for the most part have been scheduled to be born through a cesarean. The medical community feels the pros of a cesarean out way the risks of of a breech vaginal birth, for most moms.

So if you are a woman who really wants to have a vaginal birth, the fear of a cesarean can be very strong.

But how you handle that fear can be even stronger. Having an experienced provider who is open to assisting a breech vaginal birth would be wonderful, unfortunately, that is not always available.

So what can you do?

Fortunately, most babies turn on their own, with 3-4% remaining breech at birth (source). But there are ways to support your body and baby through this process when there are no other medical complications preventing baby from turning.

Inspired by my friends journey I put together my top 6 strategies (in no particular order) to help baby turn into a head down position.

The main focus to all these strategies is to create space in the pelvis. The pelvis is the outlet for birth. There is the upper ring and lower ring made up of two bony sides (or wings I call them), the sacrum, and soft tissue. These rings can expand and shrink depending on posture, muscle and tissue tension, and joint movement. Performing techniques that target softening and expansion of these rings is the goal!

  1. Pelvic Opening Exercises

    Doing stretches that promote widening of the pelvis and gentle mobility of the sacroiliac joints does just that. These exercises involve a lot of stretching the muscles and tissues around the low back, trunk, pelvis and hips.

    An example of one exercise sequence I teach my patients are pelvic tilts, circles & sways.

    These can be done in various positions but there are 3 that I find most effective: hands and knees, a birth ball or standing. They can be performed from small to large movements, slow or fast, and as many as feel comfortable.

    They are great to do throughout pregnancy as well as while in labor.

  2. Spinning Babies

    Spinning Babies was created by Gail Tully as strategies to help optimize babies position. They provide exercises and hands on techniques to create space for baby to “spin” in utero to be in the best position for birth.

    They offer online support and in person care through providers trained with Spinning Babies.

  3. Fascial Release Bodywork

    Sometimes muscles and joints that become tight over years of imbalance may need more than stretching and movement to create space.

    Using a form of manual therapy that targets the fascial system. This system is a network of connective tissue that surrounds and is interwoven into every fiber of the body and provides the support necessary for optimal functioning.

    When the fascial system is dehydrated and restricted it inhibits muscles and joints. Fascial release nourishes these tissues, allowing them to open up and create space. Performing releases around the spine, ribs, pelvis and hips improves babies chance of finding optimal position.

  4. Webster Technique

    This technique is used by Chiropractors to analyze the sacrum for subluxation and provide adjustments accordingly to restore neuro-biomechanical function.

    While this technique does not necessarily create more space, sacral subluxation can cause baby mal-position, due to the imbalanced of space in the pelvis. Bringing the sacral into alignment allows baby to find a better position.

  5. Osteopathic Manipulation

    Osteopathic manipulation are hands on techniques that Doctors of Osteopathy use to balance joints and surrounding tissues. Again, various techniques can be utilized to manipulate the spine, pelvis and sacral joints to target the uterine and cervix ligmants and muscles to bring alignment to the area and remove mechanical interferance to baby’s position.

  6. Acupuncture

    Acupuncture is another technique that can be used to open the pelvis and hips to create space for baby to turn into optimal birth position. Acupuncture points are targeted in the back, arms, hands, legs, and feet to remove restrictions and improve energy flow in the sacrum, surrounding muscles and uterine ligaments.

    Some acupuncturists are also trained to do Moxabustion, a Traditional Chinese Medicine technique where moxa (Chinese herb) is burned over a point in the outer toe. This has been shown to be effective in turning babies for hundreds of years in China and recently validated with randomized controlled-studies.

I invite you to an informational consult call to learn more about how I can help your baby find optimal position as a maternal pelvic health physical therapist!

Take Control of Your Bladder During Pregnancy

You're bladder can take a beating during pregnancy.

It gradually gets less space and less support to function as you grow.

With these changes your bladder may send you mixed signals and create new habits.

Yes, your bladder talks to you. It sends signals to let us know when it is appropriate time to go pee.

How does your bladder do this?

The bladder is an amazing muscular organ. As it fills with urine it stretches. When it stretches there are receptors in the fibers that senses by how much. These receptors send the signal to the brain to tell us when the bladder is "full." The brain then decides if it's time to go pee.

When we're little the bladder doesn't signal until it's actually appropriately full.

Over time and during certain stages in our lives the bladder can learn new habits based on our lifestyle.

Your bladder is influenced by your diet, pregnancy, job, pelvic floor awareness, movement, bowel habits, gut health, and your reaction to when you feel an urge.

The habits you formed prior to pregnancy can be an indicator of your bladder control.

Here are some simple tips for bladder control to follow while pregnant that'll keep your bladder - brain communication balanced.

Tip 1

Drink mostly water!

There are drinks and foods that can irritate the bladder.

The main culprits are drinks that are caffeinated, carbonated, citric, and sugary.

When you drink these it's like having a bad party guest in your bladder. Your bladder wants it to leave.

So instead of the bladder signalling when stretched to capacity it's signally because it's irritated. When this happens on a regular basis the stretch receptors become over sensitive and will signal when the bladder is barely full.

Leading to more urges and frequent trips to the bathroom.

Tip 2

An urge is a signal not a command.

Because your bladder may signal when it's not actually full you need to be aware of when it's actually appropriate to pee.

During pregnancy, your frequency will increase, but not by much and not until later trimesters.

You can still work within the normal range of every 2 to 4 hour during wakeful hours to pee.

So when you feel the need to pee, ask yourself "when was the last time I went to the bathroom?"

If your answer is 1 hour ago, you may not really need to go. If your answer is 2 hours or more then good to go.

Tip 3

Drink throughout the day rather than large amounts all at once.

Sometimes we forget to drink or we get busy that when we remember we down a whole bunch of water at once.

This puts the bladder under more pressure to function. And during pregnancy when space comes at a premium your bladder is going to have a hard time holding on to the pee if it's walls can't expand enough.

Tip 4

Know how to contract and relax your pelvic floor.

Your pelvic floor works with your bladder to function. Not only does it keep the bladder in proper position it involuntarily contracts to keep pee in and relaxes to let pee out.

When you feel an urge and your brain decides if it's time to pee or not, it'll message the pelvic floor to stay closed until you reach the toilet and then to relax when seated.

Sometimes you'll need to voluntarily contract the pelvic floor to make it to the bathroom. By contracting your pelvic floor it can help ease the urge and make sure no pee leaks out.

But then once you reach the toilet you need to know how to fully relax the pelvic floor (so no hovering ladies!) to pee.

Tip 5

With the extra weight, less space and weakened core there is also the possibility of leaking pee when pressure is placed on the bladder.

To prevent that from happening you need to energize and activate your deep core to keep the pee in.

The deep core includes the pelvic floor (bottom), transverse abdominus (front), respiratory diaphragm (top) and multifidus (back). When they are all activated at the same time you create a support all around the pelvis.

So whenever you sneeze, cough, laugh, lift, push, pull, or anything else you do that you feel pressure down into the pelvis contract your deep core.

These tips will come in handy through out your pregnancy and beyond.

If you want to learn more about supporting your body and bladder through pregnancy check out Expecting Pelvic Fitness for even more pelvic health education!

Round Ligament Pain Keeping You Down?

If you have been pregnant you have probably experienced round ligament pain.

It can be a mild ache to a sharp stabbing pain.

What is the round ligament?

It is a cylindrical ligament that attaches from the uterus to the pelvis. It keeps the uterus from twisting or shifting too far out of place.

During pregnancy the round ligament needs to stretch as the uterus expands.

However, depending on how fast it stretches or how tight it is, it may cause pain.

Pain is usually felt in the lower half of the abdomen, near the hip.

It may only occur when you transition from sitting to standing, as the tissues in the front of the hip stretch.

Or it may last all day, lingering.

Even though your round ligament needs to stretch during pregnancy, it doesn't need to be painful.

Remember, just because you are pregnant doesn't mean you have to experience the common aches and pains associated with pregnancy.

So what can you do about round ligament pain?

Here are a few tips to ease the pain you may be experiencing as your uterus expands and stretches.

1. Heat

Using a warm heating pad or taking a warm bath can sooth the achey tissues. If you use a heating pad, avoid electric ones, just in case you fall asleep you don't want to burn yourself.

2. Stretch

Doing simple stretches like pelvic tilts, side bends and and lunge stretch can help length the tissues around the uterus that may be inhibiting the round ligament.

As always when you stretch during pregnancy, avoid extreme positions, modify as necessary and use props!

3. Posture

Being mindful of your posture during pregnancy is not only good practice for overall health, but will put less strain on the round ligament as it supports the uterus.

4. Be core aware

Using your core muscles properly and doing simple core exercises improve your support of the uterus. This reduces the amount of work the round ligament needs to do, so it can stretch with less forces on it.

5. Where a maternity brace

If you are unable to provide enough muscular support, wearing a maternity brace that helps lift your tummy the way your abs are meant to can help relieve some discomfort.

6. When all else fails see a specialist

If you are experiencing severe round ligament pain that is really inhibiting your way of life, seeing a specialist may be your best bet. A pelvic floor PT who specializes in maternal health can perform manual therapy to release tight tissues and ease discomfort, help you find good posture, give you stretches most appropriate for you, and guide your through strengthening exercises.

Don't let round ligament pain get you down. Head over to Expecting Pelvic Fitness to try out my signature program for FREE to learn good posture during pregnancy, safe exercises and more.

Could sitting in the car be causing you pain?

The Holidays are coming, which for many of us means traveling.

After sitting in the car for 3 hours (one way) while driving the the Seuss Museum over the weekend and then the thought of driving another 3.5 hours to visit family over Thanksgiving, thoughts of making my travel more comfortable and least stressful on my body came to mind.

Sitting in the car to go to the next town over or several states over can put your body into strange postures.

Car seats are built for safety, not so much for good posture.

What this means is you need to be mindful how you are sitting in the seat, which may include props or modifications.

By sitting in the car in an odd posture for 10 minutes several times a day, 30 minutes a week or several hours all add up to wear and tear on your body.

Good posture in the car becomes especially important during pregnancy and as a mom.

As a mom you are reestablishing your core and have to constantly adapt how you are moving and using your body to take care of your little one(s). Being intentional about your posture will help your body heal, reconnect, and move in a more efficient way. Thus in the long run nourish your body and avoid pain.

During pregnancy, good posture can be harder to find and manage, especially if the seat you're sitting in forces you in to an odd posture.

And since sitting in general during pregnancy can cause your joints to settle leading to aches and pain, it makes it even more important to pay attention to.

When sitting in the car, especially for longer than 10 minutes, your body tends to get tired of sitting in one position when it lacks the support from your core.

Here are some of my tips for sitting in the car.... to travel during the holidays or for every day driving.

Adjust Your Seat First

There are so many ways to adjust seats now, so take advantage of your options.

When you first get into the car play around with your seat position. Explore the different positions you can put your seat in.

  • Does your seat raise and lower?
  • Is there adjustable lumbar support?
  • Does the seat tilt?
  • Can you adjust the steering wheel (if you're driving)?
  • What is the distance you can safely and comfortably be from the steering wheel?

Know What Proper Sitting Posture Looks Like

Adjusting your seat will only be effective for you if you know how to adjust for good posture in sitting.

There are some basics to always follow and then some modifications to play around with.

Here are some basics:

  • Pelvic Neutral
    • You want to make sure your pelvis is not tipped in one direction. Car seats tend to force us into more of a posterior tip, making us sit on our tailbones.
    • You also want to make sure you are not twisting in one direction, by crossing your legs or shifting your weight to one side.
  • Spine Neutral
    • You want to make sure your spine is nicely stacked over the pelvis, not rounded or arched or twisted
    • Car seats lend more to rounding your back because of the concave nature of the seat back.
  • Knees in line with each other
    • This is especially true when you are driving
    • Make sure when you are sitting your knees line up with each other, rather than having one more forward
    • This is typically a twist in the pelvis
  • Neutral hips
    • Avoid sitting with legs crossed, significantly turned out or in, or squeezed together or wide apart

Here is a modification:

  • Hips and Knees should be around 90˚ flexion (or bent)
    • This is when you are a passenger. When you are driving your knees will not be at 90˚ to reach the petals while at a safe distance from the steering wheel.
    • This may not always be achievable in a car based on height of the seat. For example you may drive a sedan and be tall. The seat may only raise up so high to accommodate your long legs. Unlike a SUV that seat is already higher.
    • As your belly grows so does the angle your hips can be at for comfort.

How to Find Good Posture

Now to combine playing around with your seat options and knowing your posture guidelines.

When you first get into the car adjust your seat. Find the position that brings you the closest to the 90˚ at hip and knee, or even around 100˚ hip flexion (think more open between thighs and belly, like opening a book).

Once you've figured that out, adjust the distance between you and the steering wheel if you're driving. I've found that when I adjust the seat height I get too close to the steering wheel.

The rest is based on you.

After adjusting your seat to avoid the common rounded, slouched or closed off position, you have to help your body find the comfortable neutral.

Use your pelvic tilts to find pelvic neutral.

Grow your spine out of your pelvis in both directions, stacking your vertebra, ribs, shoulders and head over your pelvis.

Adjust your seat again, if your lumbar support is too much or little. I find that sometimes the lumbar support doesn't actually align with where you need the most support. Think just above the sacrum or belt line. You should feel your sacrum (widest part of pelvis) and your ribs are softly reaching into the seat.

Look at your legs. Are they neutral or twisted? Are you crossing your legs? Are you shifted to one side, so you can quickly look back at your kiddo(s)? I'm guilty with that last one.

As you settle into your neutral body position and find your good posture, now you can adjust your mirrors to match your needs.

Keeping it up on long rides....

Can be support challenging. Don't feel you need to stay still the entire time you are in the car.

By all means shift and move.

This will keep your muscles from becoming stiff, your joints from settling, and boost your overall awareness of your posture.

If you rode with me you'd see me doing pelvic tilts, pelvic circles, glutes squeezes, neck rolls, deep breathing with core coordination, leg shakes and more.

This keeps my body awake, but at the safe time relaxed and more comfortable, avoiding very common aches and pains in the low back, pelvis and hips....especially when you transition out of the car to standing.

 

 

Pubic bone pain stopping you in your tracks?

During my second pregnancy I have experienced pubic bone pain more often and with more severity than during my first pregnancy.

There have been several times that it was so intense I could barely walk.

If you've had pubic bone pain you'll know what I'm talking about. The sensation that the front of your pelvis is grinding together and ripping apart. It's not pleasant.

But why do some of us experience pubic bone pain during pregnancy and sometimes even into postpartum?

Pubic bone pain is a very common pain syndrome during pregnancy. It is associated with Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction. The symphysis pubis is the joint that connects the two halves of the pelvis in the front. Your abdominal muscles, pelvic floor muscles and inner thigh muscles attach to the pubic bones.

There are four main causes of pubic bone pain, these can happen exclusively or more commonly in combination:

1. Posture

Your spine and pelvis is designed to be held in a particular position in relation to each other.

You have natural curves through the spine that allow forces to be translated efficiently and safely through the joints.

During pregnancy your posture tends to alter these natural curves because of your growing belly shifting your center of gravity forward and a stretched & weaker core.

When this happens your lower back curve increases and your pelvis tips forward, in standing. Or while sitting we tend to slouch into curved position. With a weakened core it's harder to pull out of this position.

This puts more weight on the symphysis pubis, that it is not meant to have to bear, straining the joint.

2. Alignment

Our pelvic joints go together likes puzzle pieces. There is one way they fit together, any other way is like jamming the pieces together.

Picture how painful that could be.

This is more commonly considered Pelvic Girdle Pain. Issues in the sacroiliac joints (back of the pelvis) that translates to the symphysis pubis.

Your joints are more susceptible to not fitting well during pregnancy and during recovery because of relaxin, estrogen and progesterone, which soften the ligaments and connective tissue that support and stabilize the joints.

When your joints are not "put together" they no longer efficiently manage forces, putting more strain on them.

3. Muscle trigger points or spasms

Trigger points and muscle spasms are locked up, dehydrated, sometimes over-worked muscle fibers. They tend to get stuck in a pain cycle of communication until "unlocked."

During pregnancy and  postpartum, with weaker core muscles, other muscles work harder to stabilize the pelvis and spine.

When muscles repeatedly work harder they form trigger points and muscle spasms.

These trigger points and muscle spasms can effect the joints they are attached to, referring pain  or causing imbalances in the joints.

4. Weak core

Without being extremely mindful as well as diligent with corrective exercises your core muscles will weaken, loose natural reflexes and disorganize function.

When this happens they no longer support and stabilize your joints and body.

So every time you move, like getting up from sitting or rolling in bed. Your joint are able to manage the forces going through them and your body responds with pain.

For me it has been a combination of old injuries causing alignment issues and trigger points reducing my body's core coordination. This all happened after two incidences:

One while lifting and moving too many boxes and furniture without asking for help.

The other after slipping on wet leaves covering my shed's ramp while doing yard clean up after a big storm. The caused me to tense up to avoid a full on split.

Both certainly not my finest hour, but I was able to get resolve pain fairly quickly with self care I've learned over my pelvic health years that I know work for my body.

If you answer "yes" to the following questions then it's time to listen to your body and ask for the help you deserve....

1. Do you experience pubic bone pain when you role or shift in bed?

2. Do you get pubic bone pain when you walk?

3. Are you several months postpartum and your pubic bone is on fire?

4. Do you want to have a natural birth and wonder how you'll manage because of your pubic bone pain?

There are simple tips and tricks to reduce your pubic bone pain.

Top tips....

Take smaller steps while walking...

Stand and sit tall keeping your pelvis and spine in neutral...

Warm up your pelvis with pelvic tilts before standing up...

Keep your legs together and roll like a log when moving in bed...

And lastly....

Set up a breakthrough call to learn what your body needs.

When Baby Becomes a Pain in Your Ribs!

During my first pregnancy my daughter liked to nestle right up into my ribs using my liver as a dance floor.

I didn't expect anything less during this pregnancy, and this baby has not disappointed.

The difference between the two is, this baby doesn't use my liver as a dance floor, but likes to use my ribs as a trapeze in the middle of the night!

When I'm sleeping all of a sudden I'll feel the big push into my ribs, which causes a burning sensation in my muscles as they strain to stretch and withstand the force.

This is no way comfortable and really disrupts sleep....I'm sure many of you can relate!

During pregnancy one of the many body changes we experience is an expanding rib cage.

This is meant to give your organs and baby more space.

But in the process it can lead to tissue imbalances in your trunk resulting in pressurization changes and force inefficiency.

Combine that with baby making itself comfortable up and under your ribs and this is a recipe for nagging discomfort.

This can really be a pain, especially when you are trying to sleep.

So what can you do to provide baby with enough space while supporting your body?

Deep Breath

What I mean by this is fill your lungs and ribs in all dimensions when you inhale.

Our lungs and ribs are meant to be able to expand 360˚ - front-back, side-side, top-bottom.

We tend to breath more to the front or just down.

This neglects a huge portion of our ribs and the muscles that make the ribs move with start to shorten and become tight.

Thus when your ribs need to expand to make more space, these muscles will be strained.

By focusing on allow your breath to fill your entire lungs stretches these muscles and tissues from the inside out.

Rib Openers

You should also stretch these muscles from the outside in.

Doing simple rib openers like side bending, child's pose, seated twisting, can all really help your ribs release the tension and open up more.

These are great to do through out the day, especially after sitting for a while.

You may notice one side is tighter than another, for me it's my right side.

This is normal, since we tend to favor one side of our body for activities. Think about how your hold your bag/purse, hold your older child(ren), etc. 

Fascia Nourishing

When your muscles become tight they become dehydrated and undernourished. This causes them to become more susceptible to injury and strain.

Doing simple fascia nourishing helps restore hydration and fluidity.

You can do this by gently poking around your ribs, looking for areas of discomfort.

Once you find a spot, you'd hold gentle pressure over this area while picturing a melting sensation and tissue release.

Getting to all areas can be really challenging and that's where having a partner, or professional help you out.

This is exactly what I do for myself, trying to stay ahead of growth spurts.

And remember that these tissue and muscle imbalances in the ribs affects the pressure system of your trunk, which in turn can lead to pelvic health issues like prolapse and incontinence.

So paying attention to your ribs can help you avoid pelvic issues, especially during postpartum recovery when your ribs start to find a less expanded position.

If you are or someone you know is experiencing rib pain during pregnancy, you can check out a quick video of a few rib openers on my Instragram or Facebook pages.

Or you can sign up for a free break through call to find out other ways I can help you find relief.

 

 

Sleep during Pregnancy

As I drove to work this morning I listened to a podcast by Katy Bowman, a biomechanist, about SLEEP.

If you've never heard of Katy, she is a proponent of nutritional movement and varying our movement in our daily activity for optimal physical health. Our beliefs align on so many matters, which is why I enjoy listening to her podcasts.

This morning was no exception.

The style of this particular episode was answering questions from listeners and the first listener was an expecting mom.

Thus, the reason why I'm sharing my thoughts to all you lovely ladies.

To paraphrase this moms question,

"should I sleep on my left side?"

She is generally a very mobile sleeper, but had heard that during pregnancy she should sleep on her left side. She however, feels that this is causing one side of her body to be "overworked" and the other side to be "underworked."

To be honest, I didn't completely agree with Katy's answer, which was essentially, "I don't know."

But she did have some good insight, especially since she did some digging into the research to see if there was any evidence to support this position while sleeping during pregnancy.

This is what she found....NOTHING!

There is no research to back up the very commonly prescribed, sleep on your left side during pregnancy.

However, there is evidence to show that if a mom lays on her back for long periods of time it can slow down blood flow to the fetus. This is because of the weight of the fetus within the uterus pressing back onto our large blood vessels in our gut that shunt blood back to our heart.

The cool thing is our bodies will tell us by becoming light headed, nauseous or uncomfortable, or the baby will slow her movements.

Then typically all we have to do is roll to our left side, because the vessels are predominately on the right side of our spine. Or sit up.

How does this relate to sleeping then?

Hopefully for most of us we are sleeping for at least 7 hours. Of course during pregnancy this may be altered because of discomfort, our bladder, hunger, or just being restless.

But if we are sleeping for longer than 1 hour stretches, this is a long time for our body to be in one position, right?

So the theory is, if you start on your left side during pregnancy, you are reducing the compression on your vessels.

Then through the night if you find yourself in other positions, it's okay.

Remember, your body will let you know when to move.

I am a mobile sleeper and am constantly in different positions, there was no exception during my pregnancy. But I didn't stay on my left side the whole time.

I respected and listened to my body.

The other thing to consider is if you are laying on your side to reduce pressure on your vessels, then wouldn't laying on an incline also provide this relief?

YES!

So if you are at all worried about having to always be on your side, but it's getting super uncomfortable, there are ways around it.

This can be said for any sleeping position, if it's uncomfortable, maybe there are ways around it or modifications you can do, or activities you can do prior to bed to provide relief.

The big take away is to honor your body and listen to what it is telling you. Take the time to vary your movement and stretch through out the day to reduce restlessness and improve your body awareness over all.

Happy Sleeping!

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.

Top 4 Tips for Morning Sickness

It’s time to break the radio silence.

For the past few months every time I sat down to write my brain would blur and I’d have complete writers block. So I chose to be kind to myself and not force the words.

But after returning from my walk today, it felt like the right time to let the words flow.

As many of your know I am a mom of a 3 year old rambunctious little girl.  But in January (or February) another little one will be joining our family.

Part of the brain fog was nausea distraction.

My first trimester was riddled with nausea that never gave me the satisfaction of actually vomiting….sorry for those who may be queasy about the V word.  But do know what I mean.  You feel terrible and just know that if you release the pressure it will all go away.  Well for me it never did.

I’m just coming out of it now and starting feel the energy and focus return.

And I really want to share with you some of my top tips for handling first trimester nausea (because to be honest, it was not morning sickness….it was all day sickness which got worse by the end of the day and oh the smells, my stomach flips just thinking about it.)

To be honest there wasn’t much that helped me, but there were a few go to things that were life savers.

Tip #1

Stay hydrated

It was really hard for me to drink water.  Even the thought of having to drink water was repulsive, but if I didn’t stay hydrated I was even more bloated and nausea.

So how did I stay hydrated?

I could tolerate ice cold water, lemon water or sparkling water.

So I would make up smaller glasses of water with ice, so it stayed colder longer and I felt accomplished when I finished the glass. Then refilled it frequently.

If I was home I loved filling up a pitcher of water popping some lemons in and leaving it in the fridge to stay cold then I could refill my glass directly from that and when the pitcher was empty I knew I hit my goal.

However, that was not always possible.

If I wasn’t home or ice cold water wasn’t available I would drink sparkling water.

I’m not typically a sparkling water person, only on more special occasions.  It’s nothing against the sparkling water, except I like to practice what I preach, most of the time which includes avoiding carbonated beverages because of their effect of our bladders (there’s a little hidden tip for those with bladder issues!)

So I’d always try to have a bottle around and my daughter called it my “spicy water” because of how it tickled her tongue if she tried a sip.

When I was really desperate I would drink through a straw, which let me get more water in without as much effort or fullness feeling.

Tip #2

Lavender or Lemon Essential Oil

I love essential oils because of their awesome benefits. And during pregnancy and postpartum there are very specific ones that are great to try out.

(If you’d like to learn more about essential oils check out my dear friends free course @ http://krystal-couture.com/signup/)

How I used lavender and lemon essential oils to help with my nausea is by having them in little vial and taking wafts of them whenever I felt nauseas.

This especially helped if there was a nasty smell that I couldn’t escape.

So if I could replace the nausea triggering smell with a cleansing smell my brain focused on the pleasant smell and it really helped calm my belly.

Tip #3

Stay Active

Walking was my friend when I was nauseas. Whenever I could take a walk I did, it let me get fresh air (though I won’t lie there were a few times that my nausea was triggered by a nasty smell outside).

But in general walking got my mind off the nausea and helped increase blood flow to my pelvis and muscles which reduced the feeling of bloat and TMI got me burping sometimes, which really relieved the pressure.

If I couldn’t walk, then I would do very simple stretches like spine twists or sidebends or cat cow to help open up around my gut and sooth my organs.

You can watch some of these in my video.

Tip #4

Tummy Time

This was my saving grace!

I’m not a big belly layer, other than certain exercises.

However, I do know the benefits of a good tummy time for your gut.

I would take advantage of playing with my daughter on the floor by lying on my belly or between clients I would lie on my belly to get through my next appointment.

This was especially helpful when I was trying to fall asleep.

I usually advice against belly sleeping, but when nausea is keeping you up, we do become desperate.

So I removed my pillow, so I wasn’t over extending my neck and let one arm rest over the side of the bed, while my legs were straight.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to stay there long to reap the benefits and could roll onto my side or back.

I am now feeling less nausea and don’t need to be as rigorous with my nausea combatting techniques.

But after having a larger meal than usual or smelling something that just turns my stomach I’ll pull these tips out and will continue to do so through the entirety of my pregnancy. (Of course, no longer lying on my belly, unless I go get a massage from an awesome local therapist who has a pregnancy pillow!)

Fo some of us nausea can be debilitating, and really hinders us from doing basic daily tasks.

By following some of these tips you may be able to get through your day with a little more ease making the first trimester more enjoyable!

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!!!

How Prenatal Pilates Can Improve Your Birth

Preparing for birth doesn't have to be complicated. But shouldn't be left for the week of your due date either.

There are simple ways to prepare your body for birth and doing prenatal Pilates is one of them.

Here I list the birth benefits of prenatal Pilates and why I continued doing Pilates through my entire pregnancy.

  1. Brings your awareness to your core
  2. Aids stamina
  3. Improves your pelvic mobility
  4. Enhances your concentration
  5. Focuses your control through breath
  6. Assist in relaxing the pelvic floor

BRINGS AWARENESS TO YOUR CORE

Your core is made up of multiple muscle groups that support your trunk and back.  Two of these is the respiratory diaphragm and pelvic diaphragm.

These two diaphragms aid in birth by expanding and contracting or relaxing in the pelvic floors case.

When you are able to tune into the movement of these muscles you're able to follow the natural flow of pressure between them which can aid the uterine contracts pushing baby down.

AIDS STAMINA

No matter if you have a short labor or long labor you need stamina to birth.  Labor contractions can be intense and tiring.  Building your stamina will help your body last longer if needed, reducing the risk of medicalization.

IMPROVES YOUR PELVIC MOBILITY

The great thing about Pilates is, it's not only about creating stability throughout the body, but the flexibility of the tissue as well.

When you stabilize your trunk and pelvis this allows your hips and shoulders move more freely and find positions with more ease.

This can be paramount during birth to use gravity assist positions, finding postures to assist baby into optimal position, or using different movements to ease pain.

Plus a strong muscle means a flexible muscle, that will rebound and heal at a faster pace. And your pelvis goes through a large change during vaginal birth in a short amount of time.

ENHANCES YOUR CONCENTRATION

One of the principles of Pilates is concentration.

Always keep your mind wholly concentrated on the purpose of the exercises as you perform them.

Joseph Pilates

Controlling our thoughts and actions can be challenging in the best of times. During birth when you may be distracted, stressed, uncomfortable, in pain, our thoughts can become erratic and limit our ability to concentrate on the task at hand.

By training your concentration prior to birth through movement patterns in Pilates you are preparing for concentrating on your actions during birth.

FOCUSES YOUR CONTROL THROUGH BREATH

Breathing is the first act of life.

We can use it just to stay alive or we can use it to focus on coping with pain, helping control our movements, improve relaxation.

All of these are needed during birth.

Practicing different forms of breathing from fast, quick breathes to slow deep moans teach you how your body responds. Then you can use this knowledge consciously or subconsciously during birth during strong contractions to bring your focus off the pain, to bring a much needed relaxation in between contractions or assist with movement patterns that aid in baby's position or ease pain.

ASSIST IN RELAXING THE PELVIC FLOOR

The pelvic floor is part of the core musculature that is trained during Pilates.  When taught properly the pelvic floor is strengthened, but more importantly learns how relax.

A strong, supple pelvic floor will be able to relax with more ease. Thus lending itself nicely to opening and creating more space for baby to descend.

If you've never tried Pilates, pregnancy can be a great time to start. The safest way to do this is by getting one-on-one instruction by a prenatal Pilates specialist (wink, wink)!!!

HAPPY BIRTHING!

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!!!

Survive Camping While Pregnant

Living so close to the White Mountains of New Hampshire is such a joy.

My husband and I loved getting up to hike and bike before our daughter was born and now that our house renovations (that we are doing ourselves) are winding down our weekends are opening up to get back up there to share with our daughter.

We ventured up to the Whites this past weekend to camp with my brother and family and my parents.

The weekend started off raining, so luckily my parents were able to set up our tent prior to arriving, but I wanted to go over to tips on how to survive camping (and I mean tenting) for a weekend while pregnant.

We knew the nights were going to be on the cool end, so we needed to bring extra blankets and decided the most comfortable way to go would to bring our air mattress.  I don't know if I would do this again.

Here's why...

Air mattresses deflate and move whenever the other person (or in my case people, yes our daughter slept between us) shift. So I a nice firm mattress in the beginning of the night may not be so by the morning.

I found that every time I needed to shift positions I had a hard time getting enough leverage to rotate without disturbing my daughter.

Plus my hips were sore by the morning even with the support of a pillow between my legs.

Tip #1

Make sure the surface that you are sleeping on is comfortable.

There is nothing worse that sleeping outside while pregnant if you are waking up in the morning super stiff or in pain and can't enjoy the activities planned for that day.

So try out an air mattress at home. If you are early enough in pregnancy and a back sleeper, great. You may not have this issue, but for those who need to sleep on your side or are a side sleeper, make sure you have extra pillows to support you or see how your hips do with the stiff or deflated mattress.

If you are using a sleeping pad instead, again, try it out at home first. Especially if you have to sleep on your side. Our hips expand during pregnancy and the pad may not be enough cushion to reduce the pressure point on them.  You also have the option of building up a ramp to sleep on your back, if you have room in the car to bring extra blankets and pillows. So try this out at home as well.

No matter the surface you are sleeping on it is wise to do a wake up stretching routine.

Tip #2

Stretch in the morning.

When we camp, we go on hikes or swim or are extra active.

Then we tend to stay up later and may not get the greatest night sleep.

Thus, morning stiffness can be more of a problem, regardless of your sleeping environment.

So when that sun wakes you up, crawl out of the tent (or stay in the tent) and stretch your body.

 

Make sure you target multiple areas of the body....hips, side trunk, chest.

Think standing up, reaching for the sky with both hands then bending to the one side.

By warming up your muscles with gentle stretches your setting yourself up to enjoy the other activities lined up for the day.

I don't think I can say this enough......drink water!

Tip #3

Make sure you have another potable water.

Water is the best way to stay hydrated, which is even  more important while pregnant.

If your camp sight does not have potable water, you need to bring enough for your whole stay or having an appropriate method of sanitizing the water. This could be boiling the water or filtering it, the CDC has more information on appropriate water sanitizing while camping.

Other than water, what you eat will also be a factor while you camp.

If the mornings are cool, water water with a lemon is a great way to start the day.

Tip #4

Make sure you plan out your meals so you know you're getting in enough vital vitamins, minerals, calories and proteins.

Of course when you are tenting you don't have all the luxuries of a kitchen, so be reasonable with the meals you pick.

Oatmeal with added goodies like almond butter, flax seeds, cinnamon and dried fruit can be an excellent breakfast.

You can also prepare some food prior to leaving the house. This can help cut down on the dirty dishes. Just make sure you keep the perishable foods cold!

Then once you've figured out your meals you can add in snacks. Easy fruits like apples and bananas are easy to pack and carry around with you. Nuts, roasted chickpeas, sugar snap peas, dried fruit, sandwich crackers are all great snacks to munch on.

And lastly, once all the logistics are figured out....

Tip #5

Have FUN!

Not everything is going to go to plan and while camping you have to have a degree of "let it go" attitude.

Our daughter stayed up much later than we would usually allow her to. But we knew she would be okay and she could take a nap the next day (if she really needed it).

If you want to learn more about safe stretches and a morning routine to get ready for the day while you are pregnant reach out to learn more about my solutions!

So if you are near mountains or pitch a tent in the backyard have fun camping even while pregnant!

Hiking While Pregnant

Being out in nature is a wonderful way to enjoy fresh air while staying active during pregnancy.

Hiking is one way to be in nature.

We are moving into my favorite time of year for hiking, the weather cools off, the streams and rivers still feel refreshing, the leaves start to turn to vibrate reds, oranges and yellows and warm teas are so much more enjoyable.

After camping over the weekend, my daughter went to my brother's for the week to visit more with her cousins and my husband and I decided to go for a hike. We chose our hike without much thought and as we were hiking we discovered the hike was more vertical than expected.

I want you to learn from my hike that day.

Tip #1

Avoid hiking above 6,500 feet  above sea level.

In higher altitudes oxygen levels drop. During pregnancy the demand for oxygen increases, to accommodate this we breath more and our blood volume increases to get the available oxygen in our blood to the fetus, our organs and muscles.

When there is less oxygen in the air it is more challenging for our body to get enough, which puts mom and baby at risk.

To avoid this risk, pick hikes that are below 6,500 feet.

This is easily done on the east coast, but for those who live in or near the Rockies, consider this you're body could already be used to the elevation, so chat with your provider if you are an avid hiker to see if you can continue hiking at higher altitudes.

Tip #2

Don't hike anything more intense than what you were regularly hiking pre-pregnancy.

So if you were an avid hiker prior to being pregnant and were hiking 10 miles hikes, baring no medical complications you can keep hiking 10 mile trails.

Don't get discouraged though, if you have never hiked before, there are plenty of level trails with beautiful views all over the country. Instead of walking around your neighborhood you can take a stroll along a dirt, pine needle and leaf padded trail.....because psst this is a hike!

Research the trail prior to starting and make sure you know what you are getting into.

Tip #3

Warm up and cool down.

Just like any workout, warming up your muscles with dynamic stretching, reduces risk of injury.

It tells your muscles and joints "get ready to move."

It makes it easier for your joints to bend and your muscles to stretch and contract.

Then once you finished your hike, cooling down your muscles with some stretches will help reduce soreness.

Target the following muscle groups...

....quadriceps, hamstrings, hip flexors, glutes, shins and calves.

Tip #4

Use MINDFUL MOVEMENT

Our joints are more susceptible to injury during pregnancy because of the relaxin that prepares our bodies for birth.

What this means is we need to take care of them with proper modifications, muscle control and support.

Hiking trails can be strewn with roots, branches, rocks and uneven terrain.

So pay attention to where you are placing your feet, use your whole foot, and keep a bend in your knees.

Use hiking poles to soften the descent and reduce the strain on your legs.

Tip #5

No matter your ability...take breaks!

Lastly, this should really go without saying, but bring more water than you think you should and plenty of snacks.

Go enjoy the great outdoors!