Bridge to Health Blog
Bridge to Health Blog

Pregnancy: Keeping yourself posturally and physically fit

Written by Sian Smith   Posted in:Pregnancy   March 17, 2015

Pregnancy: Keeping yourself posturally and physically fit

A woman's body will experience huge changes in the relatively small 9 months that she is carrying a baby. It goes without saying that being fit and healthy throughout this time can help your body better adapt to the changing demands that will be placed on it. The following are a few tips to help you maintain optimal physical and postural health ensuring your body is able to cope as best it can throughout this time.

1) Core strength exercises are vital!
Everyone knows these are important exercises but unfortunately many people still neglect them. Why is good core strength so important? When these deep abdominal and back muscles are strong and regularly contracted they prevent more superficial low back and pelvic muscles from becoming overstrained, reducing the incidence of 'pulling' your back and other spinal problems such as disc prolapses and sciatica. When well engaged, they also promote healthy upright posture which will help counteract the pull of the uterus as it grows up and out of your abdomen in the second trimester. A certain degree of spinal curve changes will naturally occur during pregnancy but good core fitness will prevent these from becoming too accentuated and problematic. An Osteopath can help work through a specific core strength programme that is most suited to your needs and abilities.

2) Strengthen hip and buttock muscles.
As your hormone levels are fluctuating, one particular hormone, Relaxin, is circulating in abundance with the primary task of allowing the ligaments and connective tissue of the pelvic girdle to 'relax', aiding the birth process. However, this can also cause your pelvic and lower back joints to become extra mobile quite early on during pregnancy. Specific strengthening exercises of the gluteal, low back and hip muscles will help to keep the pelvis strong and supported through these important changes. Side lying leg abduction exercises are suitable to do throughout all stages of pregnancy and the bridge exercise (laying on your back with knees bent and squeezing your buttock muscles as you raise your pelvis) can be done until the second trimester - be careful of laying on your back for long periods after this point as the weight of the uterus can interrupt blood flow to and from your lower limbs.

3) Do your pelvic floor exercises!
It is never too early to start doing these, although a lot of people either forget to do them, find them too boring or think 'I'll do them after the baby is born'. As these muscles are essentially a supportive sling for the pelvic organs it is imperative that they are kept activated throughout pregnancy as the growing baby, placenta and fluids place a substantial additional load on them. Without regular exercise these muscles become weak and can start to droop due to the increased weight they are trying to hold up, leading to an increased risk of incontinence and in more severe cases, organ prolapse. Gentle regular contractions of the muscles you use to stop yourself urinating will help keep this strong and also facilitate the birth process by aiding the baby's movement through the birth canal. A good basic routine is 3 slow contractions of 10 seconds at least 2-3 times a day. Varying the intensity (holding for 2 seconds x 20) will further strengthen and support the area.

4) Maintain your stamina.
Whilst it is important to not introduce anything of a particularly high intensity (especially if you didn't before pregnancy!), it is still possible and hugely beneficial to maintain and even increase your stamina with gentle and regular exercise. Staying fit and active will improve muscle strength which can make giving birth easier and also reduces the likelihood of pre and post-natal depression. Throughout pregnancy the most widely promoted exercises are swimming, brisk walking and pregnancy-specific yoga, and for good reason. Both swimming and walking boost circulation and increase drainage (good for reducing puffy ankles in the later stages) and help to strengthen most muscle groups, whilst yoga helps you to stay in touch with your changing body, focusing on improving strength both physically and mentally and increasing endorphin production.

If you found this article interesting and would like further information on how to keep yourself fit both physically and posturally throughout your pregnancy, contact Sian on 07970133658.

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