Pregnancy is hard work! I never really grasped this concept until going through the process myself. From insatiable fatigue, nausea, swollen feet and backache, I’m often asked, “Where’s the glow?” As a Paediatric and Pregnancy Chiropractor, I have mums-to-be expressing to me on a regular basis, the difficulty they feel both physically and emotionally during pregnancy.
Here are my top 5 tips to get your body through pregnancy. Let’s find that “pregnancy glow”!
1. Exercise! Exercise! Exercise!
20-30 minutes of moderate exercise every day, helps to keep your lower-back and hip-joints moving freely. It also helps keep the blood flow to the uterus at its optimum. Walking is always a good start! I also recommend Pregnancy Pilates or Yoga. It is a great way to keep general tone in your body and also strengthen those muscles that you will need for childbirth. It’s all about the core and pelvic floor! Having the ability to know how to engage and release your pelvic floor muscles will help you relax the muscles down in your perineum (muscles in the birth canal), which will help with an easier labour! Swimming is also a great in pregnancy. I would steer clear of breaststroke however, as it put a lot of pressure on your groin and can trigger pubic bone irritation – not fun!
2. Watch your posture!
This is important when sitting at work, walking around and sleeping at night! As your centre of gravity changes, so will your posture. For sitting at work, you may find a lumbar support cushion gives you added support to your increasing lumbar arch! If you work in an office setting where you are sitting most of the day: take a break at least every thirty minutes to get out of your chair, do a few stretches, a small walk around and sit back down. Get the blood flowing back into your legs. I often tell patients to have a 2 litre drink bottle on their desk, the more you drink the more you will forced to get up and move around. (for toilet breaks!)
When sleeping, it is best to avoid tummy and back sleeping, try sleeping on your left side with a nice thick pillow between your knees. This will help keep your pelvis in alignment, and also prevent you from rolling around! If you are suffering upper back and neck pain, a good memory foam or latex contour pillow can help support your changing body due to their moulding capacity!
When standing, particularly in later stages of pregnancy, try to prevent your tummy from sinking right forward and increasing your back arch; it leads to muscle fatigue and ligamentous stretching in the belly. Imagine you have a piece of string pulling you up from the top of your head trying to make you taller! The concept of ‘pelvic neutral’ is vitally important in pregnancy, another trick you can learn in Pilates!
3.Rest and recharge
The hardest concept for me during my pregnancy was not feeling ‘guilty’ about a nap in the middle of the day! It’s usually the first and third trimester where you feel you could sleep forever! Research has now shown that rest, particularly during the day, facilitates neonatal growth and development! It is important to give your body time to rest to provide your growing baby with a strong healthy environment to thrive in. Take 20 minutes in your lunch break to close your eyes in a quiet place. Meditation can also be a good one to squeeze in during the day at work!
4. Focus on a healthy diet and reduce toxic load
A balanced diet is crucial in pregnancy! Your baby is sucking all the nutrients and vitamins out of you on a daily basis, so you need to replenish these with a healthy diet! Dairy and wheat have been shown to be the two greatest allergens in the human diet, and can contribute to food sensitivities and asthma in children. A great book to explore this more is ‘Gentle birth Method’ by Dr Gowri Motha. It explores some great ideas on how to prepare you for a shorter, easier labour!
Increase your water intake during pregnancy to 3 litres per day and limit highly sugary and caffeinated drinks. Remember that everything that goes in your mouth also goes to your baby, so try to limit those indulgent cravings!
Be conscious of toxic products around the house and in the workplace. Also avoid risky foods, caffeine and alcohol.
5. Read and learn about pregnancy!
Knowledge is power! Having an understanding of how your baby develop allows you to nurture their growing needs. I recommend reading a variety of books to give you the tools to survive pregnancy and also get you thinking about birth. Some of my favourites include;
– Well Adjusted Babies: Dr Jennifer Barham-Floreani (this was my bible!)
– Gentle Birth Methods: Dr Gowri Motha & Karen Swan MacLeod
– Up the duff: Kaz Cook (lighter read and a bit of fun!)
Don’t forget at Thrive Health Co. our dedicated pregnancy team help to soothe your aches and pains and prepare your body for birth and beyond! If muscles and joints are moving well, it makes sense that births are more straightforward. Our services include: Pregnancy Chiropractic & Physiotherapy, Pregnancy & Postnatal Massage Therapy, Pregnancy & Postnatal Pilates and Pelvic Floor Personal Training. Come and see why Thrive Health Co. is Brisbane’s Most Comprehensive Centre for Pregnancy Health & Wellness.
Written by Dr. Jemima Nelson
B. Science/Psychology + Masters Chiropractic
Diplomate in Chiropractic Paediatrics Australia