5 Reasons For Doing Yoga During Pregnancy

5 Reasons For Doing Yoga During Pregnancy

This is the perfect time to practice Yoga during pregnancy as your body is changing and adjusting to being pregnant. Check out these reasons why.

1. Better Posture

A Pregnancy Yoga class will introduce poses to encourage good posture, balance and stability. The centre of balance and spinal curves change as your bump grows. To maintain a healthy posture an Ante Natal Teacher will suggest poses to strengthen the back muscles and the supporting muscles such as the buttocks and thighs.

2. Reduce Stress and Anxiety

A study shows that doing Yoga during pregnancy may reduce stress and anxiety. It said that those who did yoga felt less anxious about their pregnancy and birth. A weekly class reduces stress hormones in the body by 14%, even after the first yoga class, and can possibly prevent depressive moods, according to the research.

3. Strength for Labour and Birth

Strengthening exercises and poses in Yoga will support you during labour. This is a time where women need a lot of stamina and strength as well as being able to deeply relax between contractions. Yoga classes will teach poses suitable for this time as well as techniques such as relaxation, breathing and meditation.

4. Stay Fit, Strong and Flexible

Yoga is an excellent way to exercise during pregnancy. An Ante Natal Yoga class can still include sequences to build up stamina, muscle tone as well as stretching, whilst accommodating the pregnant body.

5. Easier Post Natal Recovery

If a woman is strong before pregnancy it is easier to maintain fitness levels whilst pregnant. If she is fit during pregnancy the postpartum recovery will be easier too. Pelvic floor exercises are practiced in Ante Natal Yoga. If you are connected with the pelvic floor muscles before giving birth it will be easier to strengthen them after. Strong flexible muscles heal quicker too. The breathing and relaxation techniques are useful afterwards as well. We need to relax in order to restore.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

 

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

 

I thought I would touch on this slightly, due to a couple of ladies in class feeling this in there wrists. So it just gives you an outsight to what it’s all about. You can suffer with it during pregnancy and sometime well into post natal too but does easy.

 

Let’s get started..

 

Carpal Tunnel

 

Causes & Symptoms

 

  • The main nerve that serves your hand and fingers is called the Median Nerve. It passes through the Carpal Tunnel, a narrow space at the front of the wrist. The tendons that bend the fingers and wrist pass through the carpal tunnel so space is limited. Any swelling (in the case of pregnancy and post natal – caused by water retention) in the region will compress or irritate the Median Nerve and interfere with nerve impulses.
  • A loss of sensation or of pins and needles in the hands, wrists and or fingers (especially the thumb and first and second fingers) with sometimes accompanying numbness and weakness.
  • Occasionally the whole hand and forearm are affected and it can occur from conception, throughout pregnancy and sometimes well into the post birth period.

 

 

 

The Benefits of Yoga & Pilates during Pregnancy?

The benefits of Yoga & Pilates during Pregnancy?

I love both of these and the benefits of doing both during a class gives you that extra bonus of mixing poses together which are beneficial or works best for you. Stretching exercises promote circulation of blood and oxygen throughout the body, relaxing both body and mind and promoting a sense of general well-being. So let’s start with

Yoga During Pregnancy

Yoga is great for working our muscles without putting too much strain on your joints. Most of the breathing techniques you’ll use in yoga are a good preparation for giving birth, as they will help you stay calm and breathe steadily through your contractions.

One of the most important benefits of yoga for a pregnant woman is the focus on breathing. Concentrating on breathing properly will teach you to relax your mind and body, even in frightening or high-stress situations, helping you to develop an healthier pregnancy.

You will gain so much more than flexibility, it will improve your posture by strengthening the core muscles and will help ease or relieve back pain, it will aid balance, stability, relaxation, meditation and self-awareness.

When pregnant women tend to shift their pelvis forward in response to the increased weight of baby, which places significant strain on the lower back. Pregnancy can shift the position of the digestive organs, impeding digestion and causing unwanted side effects. Yoga can help reverse this process and restore healthy digestion.

There are some positions which are not ok during pregnancy, so do ensure you choose a pregnancy yoga class with a fully qualified yoga pregnancy teacher.

Pilates during Pregnancy

Pilates can be very beneficial for pregnant women, helping you to maintain good posture, alleviate some of the aches and pains and become more aware of your changing body. It also helps you to follow a safe and effective exercise program throughout the whole of your pregnancy, which can be adapted to meet each stage of your pregnancy and energy levels day to day.

Pilates targets the very muscles which get weakened by pregnancy itself eg the pelvic floor and core. It also helps you breathe (great for labour), puts your body in an optimal postural position and relieves tension in your neck, shoulders, hips and lower back.

The benefits are similar to Yoga, tone your abdominals/core muscles, realign your posture, become more flexible, strengthen your pelvic floor, relieve tension in tight muscles, strengthen your back, works on your breathe and finally relaxation.

Loosening Joints and Ligaments in your Pelvis

Loosening Joints and Ligaments in your Pelvis

The past few weeks this topic has been mentioned in class, so I thought I would explain in more detail.

The pubic bone is actually made up of two separate bones joined together in the middle of the pubic area by a strong ligament. Under the influence of relaxin, a hormone released in increasingly greater amounts throughout pregnancy, this ligament can become so soft and unstable that the two bones may literally separate. It sounds bad, but this phenomenon is actually desirable, because it increases the dimensions of your pelvis and creates more room for your baby to pass through the birth canal during childbirth.

Be warned, however, a number of pesky ailments can also crop up as a result of pelvic shift. In fact, if you’re starting to feel funny little pains on the edges of your pelvis, you’re already experiencing one of the most common side effects: round ligament pain. Ranging anywhere from mildly cramp like to sharp and stabbing, round ligament pain is usually worst when you get out of bed or up from a chair. Rest will generally alleviate the pain and learning the correct way to get up from a sitting or lying down position can help avoid the problem. To stand up from a chair, put your hands on your legs just above your knees, lean forward, and push yourself up slowly with your arms. To lie down, or to stand up after lying down, roll over onto one hip and use your arms to lower or lift your body.

For particularly annoying cases, try the following exercise, which was shown by researchers at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, to be effective in relieving both the intensity and duration of round ligament pain:

Stand barefoot with your feet together, one hand holding the back of a chair or touching a wall for support. Keeping both legs straight, raise your right leg up by lifting your right hip so your right foot is about 2 inches off the floor. Keep your shoulders and the bottom of your right foot parallel to the floor. Hold the right leg in the air for 6 seconds, then lower. Repeat 10 times on the right, then switch to the left. This movement tilts your hip and pelvis about 30 degrees, which releases and relaxes the irritated ligament.

A small number of women have a large degree of pelvic separation, which can cause severe pain in the center of the pubic area, a condition known as pubic symphysis pain. Now this is another topic and will be cover next time.

Hope this has helped you understand a bit more.

Packing your Hospital Bag

Packing your Hospital Bag

This is a question that I get asked quite a lot, so I thought I would do a little article about what you will/may need. The next burning question is when to pack it, some say 2 weeks before but if you like to be organised like me and be prepared, I would do it about 4 weeks before. Even if your having a home birth I would recommend you have one packed to be on the safe side.

On my experiences I would pack extra, just in case you have to stay in. This bit I wasn’t prepared for, I had planned a water birth and it went pear shape and ended up having an emergency c-section, so I was in a sleeveless t shirt and pants and ended up telling them to where I told them to cut off because I had enough and couldn’t lift myself up. They only cut my pants off (lol, their faces were funny at the time). So wear old things during labour….

So let’s get cracking

What to pack For You 

  • Antenatal notes are needed for hospital

  • Money for car parking and vending machines

  • Comfortable and loose clothing during labour, something that doesn’t make you too hot and you can move about in.

  • 2 or 3 comfortable and supportive bras, including nursing bras if you are planning to breastfeed. Remember your breasts will be larger than usual. (That’s if you haven’t already noticed them..)

  • A pack of super absorbent sanitary towels.

  • Wash bag, with flannel, toothbrush, tooth paste, soap etc

  • Towels

  • Magazines, book, Ipad etc something to pass the time away

  • Nursing tops if you are planning on breastfeeding, and breast pads

  • Dressing gown and slippers

  • Pack of big pants (Not only will you feel sexy not… but to hold those super absorbent sanitary towels in. Oh the joys..)

  • A loose, comfortable outfit for going home in after giving birth. Remember you may still have a baby bump.

  • A camera

  • Drinks and snacks to keep you going through your labour

 What to pack For Baby

  • A pack of newborn nappies and wipes. Some say cotton wool..

  • Vests and babygros

  • A hat, scratch mittens and socks

  • A shawl or blanket

It’s a mind field but hope that’s helped you out. The only other thing is let your other half pack it for you and god knows what you will end up with…

If there is any other burning questions you want answering then drop me a line and I will do my best to help you out.

Enjoy and thank you.

How will I know if I’m in Labour

How will I know if I’m in Labour

Being a first time mummy can be worrying when it comes to labour and birth. It’s the not knowing when do you go into hospital or when is your baby going to arrive that makes it worst and then wondering if it’s Braxton Hicks (These are when your tummy tightens for a few seconds. They can be quite powerful and can easily be mistaken for labour contractions. If your worried phone your midwife or hospital labour ward for advice). Or your labour contractions have started.

So I thought I would do a little article to try and ease your mind. So here we go…

Early contractions may feel a bit like period pains, or you may wonder if they are more like Braxton Hicks contractions. Sometimes you may feel pain in your back and thighs instead of, or as well as pain in the front of your bump.

During a contraction your abdomen will feel hard as the muscles of your womb tense up and work to gradually open up your cervix and push your baby out. As your labour progresses, the contractions will become more intense and, as your muscles relax after each one, the pain will fade.

Typical Signs that your in Labour

  • When your having regular contractions that last more than 30 seconds and begin to feel stronger, labour may have started. Your contractions will become longer, stronger and more frequent.
  • Three contractions every ten minutes over two or three hours.
  • Backache or the aching, heavy feeling that you may of had during your monthly period.
  • The “Show” – the plug of mucus in the cervix, which has helped to seal the uterus during pregnancy, comes away and out of your vagina. This small amount of sticky pink mucus is called the ‘Show’. It usually comes away before or in early labour. There should only be a little blood mixed in with the mucus. If you are losing more blood, it may be a sign that something is wrong, phone your midwife or hospital straight away.
  • Your waters break – The bag of water surrounding your baby may break before labour starts. To prepare for this, you could keep a sanitary towel (not a tampon) handy if you are going out, and put a plastic sheet on your bed. If your water breaks before labour starts, you will notice either a slow trickle from your vagina or a sudden gush of water which you cannot control. Phone your midwife or hospital.
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhoea

What to do when in Labour 

  • Firstly don’t panic
  • Write down how far your contractions are and how long each one lasts
  • Phone your midwife or hospital
  • If your having a home birth, let your midwife know that you think labour has started
  • If you have other children, let your babysitter know
  • Check you have everything you need, hospital and baby bag, car keys to hand, money for car park and vending machine, favourite CD or book
  • Your hospital notes

 

 

 

 

3 Gentle Exercises During Pregnancy

3 Gentle Exercises During Pregnancy

Doing these in your daily routine, will help strengthen your muscles to help carry that extra weight, make your joints stronger, ease backache, improve circulation and make you feel better. You should be doing your pelvic floor exercises daily. See my previous newsletter about how to do these, if you aren’t doing them already or as a refresher.

Cat Stretch

  1. Start on all fours, wrists, shoulders in alignment and knees, hips in alignment, Fingers facing forward, baby into spine (stomach muscles lifted) nice flat back, (ensure you don’t sag)

  2. Slowly pulled in your stomach muscles and round your back up towards the ceiling, your head looks towards your knees/stomach. Don’t lock out your elbows

  3. Hold for a few seconds then lower to start position

  4. Do not hollow your back, bring it back to a flat back/neutral position

  5. Do 10 times, nice and slowly

 Pelvic Tilts Standing

  1. Stand with your shoulders and back against the wall

  2. Knees soft

  3. Bring your belly button towards your spine (Baby to spine), your back should flatten against the wall

  4. Hold for 5 seconds and release

  5. Do 10 times

Foot Exercises 

These can be done either standing, sitting or lying down. They improve blood circulation, reduce swelling in the ankles and prevent cramp in the calf muscles.

  1. Point and flex your foot vigorously up and down 30 times, then change foot

  2. Rotate your foot round one way and then the other, 10 times each side then swop foot

 

 

 

 

3 Top Exercises to Ease Cramp During Pregnancy

3 Top Exercises To Ease Cramp During Pregnancy

Oh no the dreaded Cramp! How I remember this while I was pregnant, especially during the night. That tightness in the lower leg, Ouch. Well here’s my tips

Cramp can be eased with regular exercises to increase circulation. Before bed have your feet lifted and circle your ankles, if you do cramp then point and flex your foot or better still get your husband or partner to move your foot around and massage your calf.

Calf Raises/Pedalling – Improve circulation and strengthen the ankles

Standing tall feet hip width apart, shoulders down and back, bring baby to spine and switch on your pelvic floor. Hands on hips to ensure pelvis stays in alignment throughout the movement. Slowly lift one heel off the floor, ensure hips are level during movement, lower down and change foot. If feeling unbalanced hold onto a chair, worktop or wall. Perform 10-15 on alternate legs.

Calf Stretches – Stretch the calf

Stand tall, shoulders down and back, draw abdominals and pelvic floor in and up, slowly step 1 leg back, keep back leg straight, front leg is bent, knee in line with ankle, hold stretch for 10-15 seconds then change legs. For a deeper stretch or if feeling unbalanced, use a wall or chair for support.

Seated Ankle Rotations – Mobilise the ankle and improves circulation

Sitting tall, shoulders down and back, ensure baby into spine, slowly lift one foot off the floor and rotate around in a circular motion one way then change direction, change legs. Perform 10 circles each way on each leg and repeat twice.

A lady who attended my Ante Natal Yoga/Pilates Classes, suffered a lot with cramp, she did the exercises and also started having Almond milk, it seemed to ease and didn’t keep reoccurring, so why not try Almond milk as well.

How to do Pelvic Floor Exercises

How to do Pelvic Floor Exercises

There are 2 types of exercises – Slow Twitch and Fast Twitch. It’s important that you do a mixture of these everyday and start with Slow Twitch then Fast Twitch. (You will usually see me in class using my hands to demonstrate the exercises, which is always amusing)

To Perform the Slow Twitch exercise:

You may not be able to hold this squeeze long at first but keep building up the time. Ensure you release slowly.

  1. Slowly close and draw up the muscles around back passage, as if you are trying to stop passing wind. (Not a problem if you!!! I always say better out than in) Make sure you don’t clench/squeeze your butt cheeks while you do this.
  2. Now close and draw up the muscles around your vagina and urethra, as though you are trying to stop the flow of urine.
  3. Hold for a count of Five. Do not hold your breath, breathe normally.
  4. Slowly relax and release.
  5. Repeat 5 times, increasing to 10 squeezes five times a day. 50 in total.

 To Perform the Fast Twitch exercise:

 Perform each repetition with the same speed and strength as the first.

  1. Tighten and pull up the pelvic floor muscles as before but in one quick contraction.
  2. Hold for 1 second and the relax.
  3. Repeat 5-10 times or until your muscles feel tired. 50 in total.

The pelvic floor muscles tire easily and you may find you have to concentrate more to begin with to ensure you doing the exercises correctly.

If you find the muscles “Let go” too quickly and you cannot hold for a count of 5, hold them for as long as you can. Example if can only hold for count of 3, then do so and gradually build up to 4, then 5.

Remember it’s important to try not to:

  1. Squeeze your buttocks together
  2. Hold your breath
  3. Bring your knees together
  4. Lift your shoulders/eyebrows or toes upwards.

If you do any of these, then you are not tightening your muscles properly.

It will take several weeks to of regular exercise to regain the strength in your pelvic floor muscles. You need to do these for the rest of your life. If you stop exercising them, your problems will return.