Growing a baby is exhausting! With Mother's Day right around the corner, it's important to remember to take time for yourself and to take care of your own health and wellness -- for the sake of you and your baby bump.
To help make life a little easier, the team and I at West End Mamas have developed a list of simple tips that can make a big difference in keeping your body and your baby healthy and pain-free throughout your pregnancy:
Unplug From Your Desk
If you have a desk job, it's easy to be tempted to park yourself in your chair all day, but this puts unnecessary stress on your low back.
Add a note to your calendar to reminder you to getting up every 30 minutes. You don't have to do much -- a quick walk around the office mixed with a few breathes of fresh air will do you a world of good.
For an even better body break, try a quick hamstring stretch after your walk. Put your heel up on a chair and hold for 30 seconds each leg. Make sure to balance yourself by putting your hand against a table or a wall. It's that simple.
A pregnant woman needs approximately 10 cups of water a day. That seems like a lot! But if you remember to refill your glass every time you get up for a walk, that will help to remind you to stay hydrated. It will also motivate you to get up for those bathroom breaks regularly.
Move Your Body to Clear Your Mind
The last thing many pregnant women feel like doing at the end of the day is going for a workout -- trust me, I've been there. But it's important to keep moving, especially if you were already an active person before your pregnancy.
I like to tell my patients to redefine what it means to "work out." Pushing your body to its limits is not the goal of prenatal exercise. The goal should be to keep your body healthy and strong while helping it adjust to the major changes you are going through. It will also help to keep your mind calm and focused. I recommend moving your body at the end of the day for at least three days a week, ideally five days or more.
Choice Your Exercises Wisely
Swimming and walking are incredible, low impact exercises. Yoga and fitness classes can be good choices, however, it's important to find a class taught by a qualified prenatal instructor. There is a common myth that crunches and planks are fine during the first trimester, but even then, your uterus is changing rapidly and this causes unnecessary strain and increase the chances of your ab muscles separating (called rectus diastasis). So please, don't take a regular class and DIY your modifications.
Ending the day with swimming or a yoga class with a qualified prenatal instructor are great ways to help keep your mind and body safe and limber.
See You Later, Chaise
I see a lot of women suffering from shooting pelvic pain as early as their first trimester. These pains are no mystery. In fact, they often caused by pelvic instability. Sure, we all want to sit down at the end of the day -- after all, doesn't that chaise lounge look tempting?
Almost all of my patients like to sit on the couch at the end of the day with their backs supported and their legs outstretched in front of them. However, this position may lead to lower back and pelvic pain. If you must sit, sit with your bum at the front of the chair, nice and supported, or on an exercise ball. Remember to get up often, no matter how you are sitting. The best posture is posture that is always changing! Lying on your side is another good option, and just as relaxing as your chaise, I promise!
Fight "Mom Bum"
A lot of my patients complain they lose their bums post-partum. This is often the result of the waddling gait we see in the final trimester where you walk with your toes turned outward. This essentially shuts down your glute muscles and their ability to stabilize your lower back and help your pelvis function the way it should. And you know the old saying: if you don't use it, you lose it; so it's bye-bye bum muscles.
Make a conscious effort to keep your toes pointing forward when you walk will help to prevent back pain along with keeping your jeans from falling down post-partum!
As you can see, you may not need to make huge lifestyle changes to adjust how you feel during pregnancy, but small tweaks to the way you sit, walk and work out can benefit you even after you bring your little bundle of joy home. So take a moment to breathe, and slow down to savour this incredible time your motherhood journey.
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