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  • Writer's pictureArina Hunter

For the mamas to be!

This is for the mamas to be!

Whether that is you or someone you know and love:


(Know a mama to be, send them this!

Hit that forward button and send them this little boost of support, hey I think this might be a useful resource for you.)


Overwhelm is a huge topic that comes up for my pregnant clients, mamas to be, and brand new mamas.


They feel unsure about what they should be doing, what is safe to do, what they can still do, what is a good and safe amount of challenge, can I still do x thing…


Top things to know about Exercise and Health During Pregnancy:

-Listen to your body. It will tell you!

-Know you can move. Strength training, exercising, moving with intention will help through pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and for baby’s wellbeing.

-Find a coach who can take away some of the overwhelm, who you trust to have done the research for you. So you have one less thing to research and worry about.

-Use your overall health care team. These pieces should feel like parts of a puzzle that lock together and work, not like separate pieces.

-Breath! Both for mindful release and for strength intention. Your breath will play a powerful role for your core, pelvic floor, diastasis recti, stability, and overall experience. 


Your body will tell you when things need to shift!

And your coach and help care team will help guide you as you learn to listen.


First:

Your pregnancy experience is yours.

It is okay if it is different from your friends, family, the portrayal in media, tv shows, your moms, your previous pregnancies.


It is okay if some days things have to shift.

Maybe your workouts have less hinging, jumping, or moving up and down of the head when you are nauseous.

Maybe your workout is more steady and focused on core/pelvis control when you are experiencing pelvic or back pain.


Your nutrition might shift. As you manage craving; aversions; changes in taste, hunger levels, and needs.


There will likely be something that feels different during pregnancy:

-The stretching sensation of the tummy/belly/abs as baby grows

-Changes in your pelvis, hips, low back as your hormones increase your mobility

-A shift in your center of gravity. Think about if you were to walk, do a plank, lunge, get up from bed with a 10-20lb weight wrapped to your belly. Things would feel a bit different, right?

-Your breathing will shift. It might feel harder to breath. Like something is in the way. You might feel more out of breath. Your breath is doing powerful things, sending blood flow, nutrients, and support to baby and you! That’s a heck of a lot for our breath to be doing.

-Your energy levels might shift. Depending on the day, the week, the moment.

-Your focus and priorities may shift.


It is normal for your body and life to shift a little with pregnancy.

Normal for your body to change postpartum.

Once you have had a baby, your body is a body that has had a baby.

A body that has done incredible amazing things.

Our bodies should change overtime. That is human.


There will be overwhelming amounts of information, opinions, research, thoughts, and stories all around you through every stage of pregnancy into postpartum and motherhood.


Ways to reduce and limit the overwhelm and influx noise around Pregnancy:

-Know your core values and priorities

-Take each thing as one option. Not the one and only.

-Know that you do not have to follow things that do not match your values, needs, goals, or desires.

You don’t eat meat? You do not have to in order to get protein. There are many many other choices even if Stacy says x, y, or z. There is always a way to find an option that works for you.

-Create a filter system for yourself. Whether that is using your health care team, coach, therapist, or trainer. Or setting limits around the types of opinions and stories you let into your sphere. Or setting boundaries around what is shared with you, what you will research, what you will read; the sources, how much, and the way you will respond.


You can bring in as many pieces to your health, care, and support team as feels useful, doable, and beneficial to you. Everyone’s experience, access, needs, and benefits are different. Let’s see what pieces might be a fit for you. Knowing they can change and grow through the different stages.


Potential pieces of your Pregnancy Health and Care Team:

-OBGYN (Obstetrician-Gynecologist)

-Primary Care, General Practitioner, or Family Physician 

-Midwife, doula

-Health and Wellness Coach

-Personal Trainer

-Nutrition Coach

-Physical Therapist: Pelvic Floor, SI Joint, Pelvic Health, Orthopedic 

-Chiropractor -with pregnancy specialization

-Prenatal Massage Therapist

-Postpartum Doula

-Nurse Practitioner

-Acupuncturist

-Urologist

-Urogynecologist

-Mental Health Professional

-Registered Dietitian

-Your support network: family, friends, spouse, partner, neighborhood community, nanny, cleaner, mom group.


Let’s dive deeper into exercise, movement, and the physical parts of pregnancy.


Pregnancy and Exercise Top 6 Things to Know:


How do I know if I am working at a safe intensity level?

Perceived exertion: Talking is a wonderful tool to manage breathing and exertion level. If you can comfortably talk (without gasping for air between words), it is a good indicator of your heart rate and push level.


Can I lay on my back through pregnancy?

As long as you feel good you can lay on your back. Signs you need to shift from your back: lightheadedness, dizziness, nausea, difficulty breathing. 

In later trimesters: depending on your unique body and experience, you can still be on your back for shorter amounts of time as long as you do not have the signs above. This is great for being able to do gentle stretches on your back -such as spine twists, hello tight hips, SI joint, glutes, low back.


How much weight can I lift during pregnancy?

Typically 80% is a good recommendation, stopping when you have 2-6 reps left instead of 0-1. Your breath will continue to be a good indicator here. Are you breathing comfortably without extreme strain, could you say a full sentence without gasping for air?


Can I jump, run, do high impact?

If you have been and do not feel pain. Likely yes! Things we want to listen for: discomfort in your pelvic floor, pelvis, low belly, or back.


Can I start to exercise during pregnancy?

Yes!! And very likely your doctor will recommend it.

If you have been working out, you typically are safe to continue your routine with small adjustments.

If you are just starting to exercise, you can ease in and safely build a workout routine through pregnancy and into recovery.

Yes you can still lift and start to strength train during pregnancy!


Can I do my favorite exercise movement, class, activity?

Likely yes with small adjustments. Have a yoga class you love? Small shifts in your go to class or a prenatal focused class will let you keep enjoying it. Love doing deadlifts or pull-ups or heavy lifts? In early trimesters, as long as you feel okay and your doctor has not told you that you have any contraindications (reasons for concern), go for it. Pull back just slightly from 100% max to that 80-90%, I still could do just a little bit more and have gas left in my tank. Think of it as aiming to get to where you feel like you could do 2-5 reps but not 6-10 or more.


Exercise during pregnancy helps to:

-Promotes baby health.

-Helps reduce the chance of gestational diabetes.

-Decrease risk and severity of low back pain.

-Manage and decrease urinary incontinence.

-Building muscles and strength to support motherhood. There is lots of lifting, carrying, picking up, moving, and strength involved in mom life!

-Maintaining healthy weight gain through pregnancy.

-There is evidence that exercise during pregnancy helps through pregnancy, labor, and recovery.


Things to know about working out during pregnancy and early postpartum recovery:


-Listen to your body. It will tell you when you need to make small shifts: Feeling nauseous, avoid moves that take your head up, down and all around.


-Your breathing is even more powerful! Use a perceived exertion check in. If you can still speak a sentence and breath comfortably, you are within a safe pushing zone. If you are gasping for breath and cannot get words out, take a couple moments to let your breath catch and body recover. Your breathing will also be a powerful tool for your pelvic floor, core, diastasis recti, providing baby with blood flow, and more!


-Your body is doing amazing things! It’s okay if you need a day or rest and recovery. If you have an off week. If things shift and change. If things do not go perfectly to plan. Your body is going to change. Your workout will slightly shift. These changes are normal and to be expected!


-Acknowledge all that your body is doing. Doing a plank, going for a walk feeling harder? Feeling discouraged by the weights you are lifting? Feeling like you are not challenging yourself enough? First remember that our challenge levels can change with many things in life menstrual cycles, fatigue, how well or much we slept, our busy week, stress levels, the list goes on -and those don’t even include pregnancy yet! My clients and I have found that acknowledging the added weight they are carrying all the time. 

You’ve gained 15-20lbs? Add that into those weights you are lifting. So you are doing a squat with two 10lb dumbbells, that’s 20 pounds. Add in baby and you are lifting 30-40 pounds -that’s like holding the 15-20lb dumbbells.


-You can still lift heavy things, get in a challenging workout, prioritize your fitness and health throughout pregnancy and into postpartum.


You might have some days or weeks when you need to listen to your body, rest, and know that your body is still doing incredible things.


Building your mama muscles 💪


The ones that will help you to carry, lift and take care of baby.


Along with the ones that will help you through delivery.


And to recover smoothly postpartum.


Exercising pre baby (both during pregnancy and everything before) helps support you as your body goes through incredible changes and shifts.


That's right if you are planning to have a baby in the future, any exercise and focus on your health/wellbeing you are doing now is a foundation that will support you in the future!


What muscles do you think of as mama muscles?


Your,

Arms,

Back,

Hips,

Core,

Legs,

Pelvic floor?


Your mama muscles help you to:

Lift

Stabilize

Carry

Pick up

Move

Stand

Sit

Lay down

Get up from the floor

Play

Hold


Your mama muscles allow you to take care of baby throughout pregnancy, birth, newborn days, and as they grow.


Mama muscles are not only for new mamas, they help support you through all stages of motherhood 😊


Because once you are postpartum, you are always postpartum. Your body did the thing. The incredible, amazing, super human thing.


You can build and use your mama muscles to support your overall wellbeing and enjoyment of life at all stages of motherhood.


Let’s talk about Diastasis Recti and Pelvic Floor!

These are two big things that will shift during your pregnancy and postpartum.


Intentional exercise will help to reduce issues, to manage, and maintain these through pregnancy, birth, and postpartum.


Wait, what is DR/Diastasis Recti? 

This is the separation of the front abdominals -the rectus abdominis.

 

It is a separation of your abdominal muscles. 

 

The linea alba is the connective tissue between the sides of your rectus abdominis.

(Your front ‘six pack’ abs)

 

There is naturally a small separation between the sides of your front core muscles (your rectus abdominis). 

 

During things such as pregnancy, those abdominal muscles separate to make room for baby.

 

Know that this separation is a normal thing that happens.


Every single pregnant woman in her third trimester has some diastasis separation. Because baby is taking up space, so those abs have to make some room! This is totally normal and will return back with intentional breathing and movement.


A wider DR separation can happen postpartum, and can still be shifted with purposeful work.

 

Know if you experience this separation post delivery, we can work to reintegrate the core, reconnect, and to rebuild that strength and connection in your core. 

 

Diastasis Recti is normal during pregnancy. 

However it is not something you have to live with and just deal with discomfort from.

 

We can work to heal and recover from this separation postpartum whether fresh from labor or long term mother. 


Exercise leading up to pregnancy, throughout pregnancy, and as part of recovery can all help to recover more smoothly!


Have questions about diastasis recti or exercise during pregnancy or postpartum? Hit reply and send your questions over!


And my pelvic floor?

Many of my clients come in never hearing about the pelvic floor, only recently, or just slightly.

Never heard of it, heard the name but not totally sure what it is referring to, have a vague idea, you are not alone.

So let’s talk through some basics together!


If your pelvis was a basket, your pelvic floor would make up the bottom weaves of the basket.

Or like a hammock from your tailbone to the front of your pelvis.

Another image is that your core is a consider: the diaphragm/your ribs are the top, the abdominal core muscles wrap the sides, and your pelvic floor muscles form the base/bottom of the canister.

It holds your inner organs inside you. Helping them to not fall down.

You can think of it as the muscular base to your core muscles.


During pregnancy, we can work on strength to support you lifting weights, moving, carrying, living life, and your growing baby. Along with release and relaxation for birth.


I recommend working with a pelvic floor physical therapist and a Coach/Personal Trainer who is trained in the pelvic floor during exercise.


Your pelvic floor helps you to:

-Use the restroom

-Enjoy s*x

-Move through life

-Stabilize your core, your trunk, your spine

-Support your SI joints

-Control your lumbar spine and pelvis

-Support your pelvic organs. Stop things from falling out!

-Helps to regulate intra-abdominal pressure (the pressure within your body that shifts with things like breathing and exertion)

-Through pregnancy, labor, birth, and recovery


Pelvic floor struggles, challenges, and issues affect women and men.


Signs there might be something happening with your pelvic floor:

-Leaking

-Pain during s*x

-Feeling like you cannot jump, run, workout, play with the kids, lift heavy things, cough, sneeze, move for fear of leaking

-Constipation

-Difficulty starting to pee, emptying bladder or bowels

-Feeling like you have to pee immediately, all the time. When you barely have any pee in you

-SI Joint pain, hip, low back pain

-Difficult inserting a tampon

-Heavy feeling down there


The good news!

We can do something about it. You do not have to just live with pelvic floor pain. To just accept that you might leak or avoid doing things for fear of it.

There are exercises, tools, and techniques we can use to relieve, aid, retrain, strengthen, and better understand your unique pelvic floor.


Whew that’s a bit ain’t it?!


Remember your pregnancy is yours.

Just like your health, lifestyle, personality, values, life experiences are yours.

Your body is uniquely yours and what works for someone else might not be what works best for you. Fitness, nutrition, and health are often an exploration to discover what options work best for you now and as life shifts and changes.

They are unique, detailed, and meaningful to you.

You got this mama!


Know a mama to be, send them this!

Hit that forward button and send them this little boost of support, hey I think this might be a useful resource for you.


Remember, your pregnancy is yours. Your version and experience of motherhood is yours. 

It can feel very overwhelming looking through all of the different research, ideas, and options out there surrounding pregnancy and motherhood.


And chatting with a coach is a wonderful way to distill all of this information down and focus in on what works best for you 😊


I have spots opening in my online coaching programs this coming month. Send me a quick hi if you would be interested in seeing if we are the right fit for what you need! 🙂



Your Coach,


Arina


I help women who struggle with their relationship with their body, food and health build a sustainable routine to prioritize their wellbeing. So they can feel strong, capable, pain free, and at home in their body.






P.S.

Mama to be,

Anything that you are doing is supporting your pregnancy, birth, labor, and recovery.

Getting in a workout.

Going for a walk.

Working with a personal trainer.

Moving your body as feels good.

Strength training.

Stretching.

Pilates.

Yoga.

Moving.

Eating food that nourishes you.

Any movement and exercise you are doing now is supporting you, baby, and your recovery.

There might be days or weeks where you just do everyday living movement and exercise, and that is okay.

It does not take away or ruin or stop all the work and progress you are making.

There might be days or weeks where all you can do is make it through. 

Within that you are moving, listening to your body, and caring for yourself and baby.


Getting your body moving is supporting you now, your pregnancy and baby, and your recovery.


Women who exercise during pregnancy often have smoother births and recovery. 


Exercising helps both you and baby -through pregnancy and the years post birth.


My clients have felt overwhelmed when given general recommendations -that while well intended are not personalized and can feel impossible within real daily life. Sometimes simply talking through the guidelines can break them down into what you are actually doing, what to do, and what is doable right now within your life and all it’s pieces.


Mama to be,

New mom,

Long time mama,

You got this.

You are doing it.

You can do it.

You are strong, powerful, unstoppable, and oh so very capable.

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