Prenatal Exercise

3 Best Exercises for Early Pregnancy Health

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According to The University of North Carolina’s study on pregnant women, fewer than 25% of moms-to-be are meeting healthy exercise recommendations– this means less than 1 in 4 women are exercising during every stage of pregnancy!

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Prenatal exercise boasts tons of benefits, and not just for your muscles: regular exercise can help boost your energy, build strength and endurance for pregnancy & after baby, and now we know it can improve your health AND your baby’s health! Active moms who maintain a healthy body weight through good nutrition and exercise typically have:

  • fewer pregnancy complications
  • faster recovery
  • deliver healthy babies in the ideal weight range, with excellent brain function

For all these benefits and more, participating in an exercise program even before you start trying to conceive (since your eggs begin to mature about 3 months before conception) and in early pregnancy, can help promote a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby! To give you a head start, we’ve assembled the 3 best exercises for early pregnancy health.

 

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1) Forward Rolls: These allow you to stretch your tight abdominals (belly and sides), while strengthening your deep core and your back muscles, both of which take on extra strain during pregnancy! To Perform Forward Rolls:

  1. Start on your knees with the ball positioned close to you. Exhale, tucking your chin towards your chest, and slowly roll the ball out in front of you.
  2. Inhale and hold, breathing into your belly, allowing a stretch.
  3. Exhale as you press your arms into the ball, engaging your core, then tucking your chin and hips to articulate your spine back to starting position.
  4. Repeat for 3 to 5 times

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2) Squats:  An excellent overall lower body strengthening exercise, and great for targeting the pelvic floor & deep core! A strong lower body will help you carry your baby safely and reduce injury during pregnancy and postpartum.

Remember: “A proper squat burns more calories because it engages more muscles than almost any other exercise, especially when you add arm movements too!”

To Perform A Squat:

  1. Stand with your legs wider than shoulder-width and slightly turned out for wide squats, or stand with legs shoulder-width apart for narrow squats.
  2. Inhale as you lower into a comfortable deep squat, keeping your weight in your hips and heels.
  3. Exhale to stand up.
  4. Repeat for 10 to 20 reps

 

 

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3) Walking is a safe option to keep up with cardio, especially when you’re feeling too tired for a high-intensity workout.  It’s also a great way to get some fresh air! There are many safe variations of cardiovascular exercise– whether you’re pre-pregnancy, currently pregnant, or postpartum.  Remember to listen to your body, and perform the Talk Test to ensure you aren’t over-exerting yourself.

“During pregnancy your blood volume increases around 50%! Due to this change, it’s easy to become lightheaded during position changes, so be cautious about moving to rapidly.”

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If you are new to exercise, be sure to talk with your doctor before beginning any exercise program, and remember to start slow, gradually increasing duration and intensity based on your health and how you feel. There is no better time to add these safe exercises to your day than now– whether you’re pregnant, trying to conceive, or have baby(ies) at home! These exercises will help keep you fit, healthy, and happy at any stage.
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WebMD

Prenatal Exercise

5 Tips to Healthy Pregnancy Weight Gain

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Weight gain is a reality of pregnancy… Or is it? Many pregnant women struggle to meet pregnancy weight gain milestones–often leading to anxiety, and unhealthy eating habits. We asked Kristi Angevine, OBGyn, to weigh in on some healthy weight gain tips, and we’re sharing 5 Tips to Ensure Healthy Pregnancy Weight Gain.

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1) Check-Ups

Your suggested weight gain will be based on your health and BMI at conception as determined by your doctor, and this calculation is often a simple estimation. Your body shape, and the number on the scale throughout you pregnancy will be largely based on your body type, diet, and activity level both before and during pregnancy– so talk to your doctor about the most accurate weight-gain timeline specifically for you.

2) Tummy Talk

If you’re experiencing extreme nausea, excessive vomiting, or ongoing sickness into the second trimester, you’re one of many mamas who experience morning sickness (or all-day sickness for many of us!) If this nausea is interfering with your appetite, weight, or energy, you could be suffering from Hypermesis Gravidium– a pregnancy related illness caused by hormonal fluctuation. There are several ways to ease HG, including diet change, keeping hydrated, grazing so you are never ‘over full’ or hungry, light exercise or meditation, and using natural nausea reducers, such as ginger. In severe cases, medication can be prescribed by a physician if necessary.

Nausea, of any severity, can cause reduced weight gain– and even weight loss– in the first trimester, but rest assured as long as you are eating healthy, taking vitamins, and staying hydrated, baby will get enough nutrients to develop normally!

3) Understanding ‘Diet’

When we talk about diet, we associate it with deprivation, ‘rabbit food’, and trying to lose weight, which causes a lot of confusion– especially for pregnant women, since they are being weighed every month (or more often!). Traditionally, ‘diet’ simply refers to what is being consumed by an individual, and everyone should use this more organic definition. When moms understand that their diet can have a strong impact on their pregnancy, and better understand how food fuels the body, they can have a healthier pregnancy.

With that being said, Dr. Angevine has collaborated with us to develop these additional guidelines for pregnant women struggling to gain the recommended amount of weight.

4) Fats & Carbs

A ‘diet’ that demands fats and carbs? Yes Please! But to be more specific, we’re talking healthy fats and adding additional carbohydrates that are also more closely naturally derived from plants.

Some Excellent Food to Try:

Real Organic Nut Butters

Walnuts, Pumpkin/Sunflower Seeds, Almonds, Pistachios

Steel Cut Oats

Flax Seed

Greek Yogurt

Olive (no heat) or Coconut (low heat) Oil

Real Butter (forget the processed stuff, opt for organic, natural types)

Additional carbs in your diet as a pregnant or nursing mama are essential to maintaining energy and health. While we typically think of limiting these items in our diet, fats and carbohydrates provide heart healthy properties and essential nutrients that will help you stay strong, and help fuel you and your baby, both during pregnancy, and while breastfeeding.

Lots of moms are concerned about eating too much, but the bigger concern is eating too much of the wrong things! So go ahead, finish off that delicious avocado or quinoa salad… Just skip on that second serving of ice cream!

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5) Flex a Little

Working out to help gain weight– it has a TON of benefits. You’ll feel more energized, you’ll be in great shape during pregnancy and have more endurance (this will help during labor!), many pregnant moms who exercise find their body bounces back better after delivery, and surprisingly, weighted exercises will help you gain healthy weight– Muscle! It is safe to perform almost all weight lifting and weight bearing exercises you did before pregnancy, as long as you’re using proper body mechanics & listening to your body. If you weren’t previously doing weight-training, talk to your doctor about your personal limitations, and seek out a specialized prenatal exercise program like Knocked-Up Fitness Prenatal DVDs. Remember, exercising to build muscle and gain energy can help your pregnancy progress healthfully, but never exercise yourself to exhaustion!

Finally, since we’re talking about weight– remember that pregnancy is a time to gain weight healthfully, it’s all for your beautiful baby (or babies!!). If you’re concerned you are gaining too little, or too much, be sure to talk to your doctor to review what is a healthy weight range for your pregnancy!

Julianna

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Prenatal Exercise

Delivery Methods: 1 Crazy (But Awesome) Tip To Improve Baby’s Health

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For many moms, planning for your baby’s arrival can even start before you find out you’re pregnant. Not surprisingly, delivery brings great excitement, along with questions and concerns for both mom and baby’s health and safety. The CDC estimates about 3 of 4 women have a vaginal delivery with minimal complications– but in the U.S. 33% of moms are delivering via cesarean.

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Cesarean births have increased by nearly 60% since 1996. For moms with complications like placenta previa or fetal distress, a cesarean can save the life of mom and baby– which is amazing! But the CDC estimates as many as 30% of cesarean births are unnecessary or elective– with many doctors and women alike siting the cesarean delivery felt ‘safer’ or ‘easier’. But this is not the case.

A typical, vaginal delivery does come with some risks too, like tearing or minor lacerations, and of course pain–not to mention it can happen anywhere, anytime! It isn’t hard to see why an elective cesarean might seem like a good option– but many complications are increased with cesareans in comparison to natural deliveries, these include:

  • maternal organ damage
  • excessive blood loss
  • blood clots
  • infection
  • long-term pain
  • extended recovery time
  • a doubled mortality rate for baby versus vaginal deliveries that proceed naturally

 

PLUS.. Due to the nature of a cesarean, it also takes longer for women to return to an active routine, making postnatal health and fitness more difficult! 

 

What The Birth Canal Is Built For & What Moms (& Docs) Are Doing

Scientists are now studying the stage of birth, as baby is progressing through the birth canal. Newer studies are proving the prescence of good bacteria– bacteria that colonizes baby’s tummy and strengthens their system for the outside world in a natural delivery. The Journal of Pediatrics published a doctorate paper researching the high concentration of bacteria in the vaginal canal, and found that it may help reduce complications for baby such as:

  • colic
  • milk intolerances
  • athsma
  • immune complications
  • food allergies
  • celiac disease
  • obesity
  • diabetes

These studies have so astoundingly proven the benefits to baby that some doctors and moms are practicing a post cesarean colonization– yes– innoculating babies with bacteria from the vaginal canal, or by rubbing vaginal fluid on the breasts while in the early stages of nursing, to introduce these necessary bacteria to baby. So if you do require a cesarean, there are still ways to help your baby reap the benefits of what your body naturally provides.

While these methods might surprise you, the last decade has shown a three-fold in the prevalence of many of the related health issues in North America, and we want to make sure that every mom has access to information about postnatal and neonatal health.

We hope that you can choose the safest delivery method for you, and encourage you to talk to your doctor about any of your concerns regarding delivery and recovery.

 

Julianna

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If You Liked This, Check Out These Other Knocked-Up Fitness Posts:

 

 

 

Sources:
National Institute of Health

Pediatric Health

 

Prenatal Exercise

9 Surprising Tips: Pregnancy Digestive Health

Natural health has become very popular among pregnant women and moms lately– and for good reason!

Mom’s are now more aware than ever that our diet, exercise routines, and environments affect our pregnancy and our children, not just our own health! Since digestion, your tummy, and your whole gut system is affected by so many factors, especially during pregnancy, here are some great tips to creating and maintaining digestive system health through your pregnancy and beyond.

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Digestive System Bacteria– What you NEED to Know

Probiotic, now a hype word, was once a topic only discussed among “holistic” health practitioners has become center stage in the topic of many health discussions, since probiotics contribute to healthy digestion and intestinal balance. Our gut is filled with hundreds of different species of good bacteria. In fact, there are more of them in a healthy gut than there are cells in the entire body! The intestinal flora is also a key contributor in detoxification, ridding the body of 40 percent of the toxins in food. If the gut didn’t have the intestinal flora, the liver would have to work almost twice as hard.
Avoid These Things to Maintain the Balance in Your Belly:

1. C-sections
While often absolutely necessary, today, too many women are induced. This leads to C-sections that would not have been necessary if the natural process of labor had been respected and allowed to proceed without disruption. A baby in the womb is sterile, but when passing through the birth canal, it is exposed to bacteria, mouth first. These bacteria are supposed to colonize the gut, nature’s first vaccination of sorts. This does not happen during a C-Section.

2. Antibiotics
Antibiotics are the second (and often most commonly seen) problem the intestinal flora often face. While our culture is beginning to become aware of our over-prescribing of antibiotics, it is still often the case that children (and adults for that matter) are given antibiotics for every kind of infection-many of which if given the proper time and rest would resolve on their own. In fact, because this antibiotic regime starts early, many of us have always lived with compromised intestinal flora and have never been truly healthy.

3. Chemicals in Your Food
The chemicals found in our food is the most common way that we make trouble for our intestinal flora on a day-to-day basis. A trip to the doctor isn’t the only place you’ll find antibiotics, some of the same antibiotics doctors prescribe to humans are administered to livestock by the food industry. This goes for processed and packaged foods in boxes, jars, bags, tubes, and bottles. The food industry calls them preservatives, but in essence they act as antibiotics. These antibiotics kill the friendly flora naturally found in your digestive system.

4. Chlorinated Water
Tap water and shower water are two places that can cause problems for our intestinal flora. The water we shower with is absorbed through the skin and ends up in our circulatory systems, just like the water we drink. Recent reports reveal that your shower and tap water may contain increasingly detectable levels of most of the popular prescription medications such as antidepressants, antibiotics, hormones, and immuno-suppressants, all serious problems for the good bacteria in our gut.

5. Stress
Research is beginning to suggest that stress itself can cause significant changes to the diversity, composition, and number of gut microorgansims. Stress has been linked to a variety of conditions such as food allergies, GERD, and IBS.² Stress has also been shown to slow bowel transit time, which encourages the growth of bad bacteria!

Tips to Keep Your Tummy Happy:

1. Eat chemical-free whole foods and use chemical-free products. You have heard this before and it is worth repeating. Look for whole foods free of preservatives, conservatives, and coloring agents. Use chemical-free makeup, body-care, and cleaning products. I so often hear of the expense that comes along with eating organic whole foods and my thoughts on this are pay now or pay later. You really are what you eat… and so is your baby!! Decreased exposure to pesticides, added hormones, and antibiotics is good for you & baby.

2. Take a multi-strain probiotic. The truth is we are still learning about which probiotics are the most useful and in what quantities. We do know that probiotics support the intestinal flora. I recommend rotating your probiotics to include different strains and different amounts. The brands I have found most reliable are VSL #3 and Primal Defense by Garden of Life

3. Filter your tap & shower waters. Keep chlorine and other chemicals from being absorbed and damaging your microflora by using a shower and drinking water filter. On top of decreased exposure as an added bonus you may notice softer skin!

4. This is SO IMPORTANT while pregnant. Reduce stress. There are many strategies to help reduce stress, so find one that works for you and use it.

On top of these things, don’t forget that healthy eating, staying hydrated, safe and effective exercises, and above all– plenty of rest, will help your total body health. Avoiding the chemicals and toxins that bombard your daily life can seem overwhelming, but when you know where to look for them, how to avoid them, and alternative lifestyle choices, you can have a happier healthy pregnancy and beyond!

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Other Posts by Knocked-Up Fitness:

5 Tips for Fighting Pregnancy Fatigue
Healthy Product Talk with Mommy Greenest
Getting Pregnant: 7 Pre-Pregnancy Health Tips

 

 

References

1. Clean Gut by Dr. A. Junger

2. http://www.jpp.krakow.pl/journal/archive/12_11/pdf/591_12_11_article.pdf

Prenatal Exercise

Worth the Weight: How Prenatal Exercise Can Help You Achieve Your Postpartum Weight Goals

If you’re one of many Knocked-Up mommas waiting for baby, and wondering how your body will react to pregnancy and delivery, you’re in luck!

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A study out of The American College of Sports Medicine shows an exciting new positive correlation between prenatal exercise and postpartum weight. Researchers found that women who practice moderate exercise and healthful eating habits are 75% more likely to reach their pre-pregnancy weight at 2 months postpartum! What’s even more amazing is that exercise and healthy eating during pregnancy yielded similar results in all moms-to-be –whether they practiced healthy habits before pregnancy, or only began exercising during early pregnancy. The study also confirmed that a healthy diet and exercise program does not contribute to low birth weight in babies, instead, it contributes to babies being born within a normal, healthy weight range!

This is an exciting breakthrough, since so many women (up to 70% in North America) struggle with postpartum weight loss. By proactively targeting strength and stamina activities during pregnancy, prenatal exercise gives women an opportunity to jump-start their postpartum fitness and reach their after-baby weight goals faster. Several studies show that hanging on to excess weight after baby can contribute to health complications and emotional stress (including postpartum depression), both of which can be significantly reduced by prenatal exercise. These amazing benefits can be reached in just a few workouts a week, and by implementing healthy eating habits.

If your doctor approves you for exercise during pregnancy try starting with some of the Knocked-Up Fitness simple, effective exercises, including Exercising During Pregnancy Can Help Prepare You for Life as a Mom! and remember to listen to your body

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Source:

American College of Sports Medicine

Prenatal Exercise

My 3rd Pregnancy {Being Induced}

My 3rd Pregnancy gave me an introduction to induction. While I was nervous at first to be induced, I researched my options and embraced the induction process. I’m thankful for my healthy baby girl. Watch the video below for the full story, with lots of information about being induced!

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Prenatal Exercise

Episiotomies, Epidurals & Exercise {Video}

There are many important things to consider about episiotomies and epidurals as you enter your pregnancy, and specifically your labor process. Watch the video below to learn more on episiotomies & epidurals, and to learn how exercise plays a part in this.

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Prenatal Exercise

My 2nd Pregnancy {Push Prep}

Though my second pregnancy was fairly easy, my second time going into labor took a scary turn when my son’s heart rate dropped with each push. Watch the video below to hear how exercising and my Push Prep helped saved me from an emergency C-Section.

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