Guest blog from Sia Cooper: The Truth About Pregnancy Part One

Thank you so much to Sia for sharing this blog post with bump2mumfitness.com. Read more over at her blog Diary of a Fit Mommy, for more recipes and workout ideas.

 
Pregnancy is an awesome thing.
 
It’s probably the most amazing and beautiful thing I’ve ever been through. Think about it. You spend all this time creating another HUMAN that you get to carry around with you in your belly for almost a year!
 
I am officially halfway through and I have a lot to say about pregnancy-the good, the bad, and the truth! Granted, I have thankfully had a very easy pregnancy so far-I have not been sick hardly any. But there are some other side effects of pregnancy that people don’t tend to tell you!

These are my truths about the first half of pregnancy


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Pregnancy is not 9, but 10 months long!

I am not entirely sure or why they say “9 months” but technically, pregnancy begins right after your last menstrual period-two weeks before you actually conceive. Most women’s pregnancy last a duration or 40 weeks or ten months. So when you get to 9 months, and dont go into labor just yet-dont fret! 9 months or 36 weeks just means you have reached full term and that its “ok” to deliver at any time.
 
Ouch! My butt hurts!
No, I am not talking about hemorrhoids-another health issue women tend to deal with during pregnancy (thats said to come way later). I am talking about Sciatic pain! Oh boy, this is a lot of fun. Try walking or sitting or laying with a twinge of pain starting in either or both butt cheeks that run down your leg! As baby grows, they put pressure on your sciatic nerve, which starts at both buttocks and runs downward towards your calf muscles. It can not only cause pain, but numbness and tingling. This only lasted 3-4 weeks with me and it went away shortly after. 
 
Whoops! That was a smelly one!
This makes me laugh to even think about writing. 
Have you ever heard that all pregnant women fart… alot? Guess how true that is? VERY TRUE! Embarrassing, yes, but thanks to the slowed digestion to increase nutrient absorption during pregnancy, this increases gas-and lots of it! My poor husband, he must really love me to be able to sit near me sometimes! You honestly cannot help it. There is nothing you can do to stop it either! Have fun!
 
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Did you just poke me!?

The first time I felt my baby kick was right at 16 weeks. I was not too sure at first because it was only a one time thing-I did not feel it again that day. But it was a feeling I have never felt before. I was laying on my tummy, texting my family-this was a couple hours after finding out he was a BOY! I was very excited and happy. And then, I felt a little poke from the inside! It was very strange. Some women says it feels like gas, but not to me. I was very sure it was him. A few days later, I felt the same thing. A few days later, I would feel it a couple times a day, getting stronger and stronger. Now, at 19 weeks and 2 days, I feel it several times a day! Sometimes, they are such strong little pokes that they catch me off guard. My husband has been able to feel the movement with his hands a couple of times so far. It is the most amazing feeling ever. Now I feel it when I laugh, eat, and talk.

 
Flat by morning, HUGE by night
This is probably the strangest phenomenon I have ever experienced! Throughout your first half of pregnancy, you will notice that no matter what month you are, you will wake up with a flat tummy and go to bed looking 6 months pregnant. I still had visible abs at 4 months pregnant! Now, at around 5 months, I have developed a real bump that I wake up with now. I remember waking up one morning in tears because I thought my baby was shrinking! But surely enough like clockwork, with everything I ate and drank throughout the day, my bump slowly formed and came back. This is just due to a lot of water retention throughout pregnancy! You will know its the real thing when you wake up with it. Instead of it doing a disappearing act.
 

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My boobs are on FIRE!!

Your breasts start growing the moment those HCG hormones start rolling in. And guess what?
THEY DONT STOP!
They grow so much that they no longer fit in anything you own! Say hello to new bras. Target has amazing and comfy nursing bras that are inexpensive that I would suggest. My biggest piece of advice is to sleeping in a supportive bra, because if you dont, your breasts will feel like they are on fire! The pain subsides a little in the 2nd trimester, but still hurts me at 19 weeks.
 
“I will take a pizza, sushi, fries, ice cream, and a cheeseburger, please?”
Yes! Food cravings are true. At least in the first trimester. I had no sickness so I was able to eat and crave things. I did not crave sweets very much, but I did crave CHEESE and SUSHI. I had to have it. I craved it so much that if I did not get it when I wanted it-my whole night was ruined! Yup. Thank youuuuu, hormones! They can turn you into a bitch if you are not one already. However, I controlled mine pretty well. Sometimes, I dont even feel pregnant! But according to what I hear, its a rarity to not get sick. I credit it to my staying health, gym going, and clean eating.
 
But I must eat for 2!
NO-you do not. Biggest myth ever. Yes, you are hungry and having cravings, but you must remember that everything you eat-baby eats too. That does not mean you need double. You should only take in 300 extra cals the first tri, 300 the second tri, and 500 in the 3rd tri and when you are nursing. This myth has been the cause of unnecessary weight gain and makes it that much harder for the baby weight to fall off. I am 19 weeks and my weight gain is at 3lbs. I eat around 2,300 cals a day and workout 4-5 times a week. I do eat clean but I do have my cheat day once a week!
 
I gotta go potty
Ahhh you and the potty will get very acquainted. My biggest tip? Do not drink fluids one hour before bedtime, and make sure you go to the bathroom right before you jump into bed. Dont get me wrong- you will still go several times a night, but it makes it one trip less. 

Can I do sit ups during pregnancy?

The answer to this is yes and no!

You can carry on working your tummy muscles doing sit up style exercises up to around 16 weeks (or after the first trimester if they become any way uncomfortable). These will keep your rectus abdominis muscles (the top-most layer of abs) strong during early pregnancy. However, from the start of your pregnancy you should also be working your deep, core muscles (your transverses abdominis or ‘TVA’) and this is safe to continue for the whole of your pregnancy. You do this with moves like ab squeezes and superman raises (see the 3-Plan for loads of ideas), keeping your tummy muscles pulled in tight.

After 16 weeks you should avoid doing sit ups for two reasons.

  • Firstly, your bump will be growing and laying on your back for a prolonged period of time may make you feel light headed or restrict blood flow to your baby.
  • Secondly your rectus abdominis muscles will become thinner and weaker as your pregnancy progresses and your bump gets bigger. There’s nothing you can do about this! They may separate (diastasis recti) and doing sit-ups will make this worse and may cause a hernia.

You are much better of during trimester two and three focussing on working your core muscles and pelvic floor muscles using exercises which are stable and safe (again see the 3-Plan for loads of ideas). There will be plenty of time to do crunches until your heart’s content once your baby is born, although you need to wait until any abdominal separation has closed to less than two-fingers width.

I have seen a few web sites which recommend doing the plank during pregnancy. I would strongly advise against doing planks during pregnancy as the moves quickly raises the blood pressure and is pretty intense for most women with a bump (or without!) If you really want to continue then do a modified plank standing against the wall or on your knees.

Remember working your tummy won’t ‘squeeze’ your baby, give them less room or bring on labour. It will help your regain your shape more easily after the birth. Remember to try to do ab squeezes to work your floor and pelvic floor exercises most days; you’ll be glad you did!

Complete pregnancy and postnatal fitness plan on your ipad

I haven’t talked about it for a while but don’t forget you can buy The 3-plan: your complete pregnancy and postnatal exercise plan for your ipad for just £4.99!

Click here to buy from the apple bookstore

The 3-Plan is a comprehensive exercise plan with over 75 exercises and exercise combinations for pregnancy and the 9 month postnatal period. Flexible and easy to follow, the 3-Plan will have you feeling fab in just 3 hours a week! The only book you need from the first days of your pregnancy to slipping back into your pre-pregnancy wardrobe. Enjoy your pregnancy, embrace your changing shape, get your body strong and healthy for a smooth labour and delivery and become fit, toned, healthy and full of energy as new mum.

Cheap | safe | effective | flexible | fun | for all levels | real results | flat tum – what more could you want from a pregnancy and new mum exercise plan?!

If you don’t want an ipad version and prefer good old fashioned paper then there are lots of other places to buy the book.

My app PregnancyFit 250 is live on the apple App store!

I can’t believe it – after months of hard work writing and developing the app it is now live for everyone to buy around the world! I wrote the app to be a useful tool for women in pregnancy; not just about exercise (although there are tons of tips about exercise!) but also about making sure you are getting all the right elements in your diet, you know what is going on with your (often strange) body and are mentally and practically prepared for the challenges ahead. I hope you like it and share it with your friends. More detail below…..

All the information you need for a fit, healthy pregnancy.

This pregnancy app gives you a daily tip, fact or snippet covering EVERYTHING you need to know about exercise, diet, staying sane, lifestyle and your body during pregnancy. You can view one a day, read them all in one go, search for something you are interested in or browse by category. Most tips are related to that point of your pregnancy, some are just plain interesting!

Includes:

  • what types of exercise are safe during pregnancy, including classes, types, equipment and how much you can do safely
  • exercise ideas
  • what you should and shouldn’t eat
  • common ailments and advice
  • what to expect from your changing body
  • lifestyle tips
  • recommendations for health, fitness and nutrition
  • postnatal advice
  • ideas to calm your mind
  • tips about labour and birth
  • practical tips
  • five myths busted

Tips are divided into five categories:

  • Body and common ailments
  • Exercise and fitness
  • Diet and nutrition
  • Headspace and wellbeing
  • Lifestyle and practical

You can read what a Midwife of 20 years said and see some example tips on the app page.

Trimester 1 pregnancy exercise: how you are feeling, safety and examples

Introduction

You should always consult your doctor or midwife before undertaking any kind of exercise programme during pregnancy. Chances are if you are having a low risk/uncomplicated pregnancy then you will be fine to go ahead. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE)

Say that moderate to high intensity physical activity will not harm an expectant mum or her unborn child and at least 30 minutes per day of moderate intensity activity is recommended. Remember every woman and every pregnancy is different; when doing any activity when pregnant make sure you listen to your body and stop if you feel uncomfortable.

Benefits

Exercise in pregnancy has a wealth of benefits and is the perfect time to make regular exercise part of your life! Possible benefits include:

•A shorter labour, with less likelihood of complications – I had quite enjoyable pregnancies with no sick days from work, straightforward and short labours (both under 5 hours) vaginal deliveries and a very quick recovery, was active within a couple of days!

•Less likely to suffer from nausea and morning sickness

•Improved core strength and stability

•A stronger back and reduction in back pain

•Better posture

•Stronger pelvic floors

•Better circulation, less likely to suffer from varicose veins, swelling and high blood pressure

•Stronger bones

•Avoid excessive weight gain and easier to get back into shape after the birth

•More energy and self confidence – lift your mood and feel great!

•Strengthen the muscles used in childbirth

•It will help you sleep

•Improved cardio-vascular fitness and muscle tone

•Lessen the likelihood of developing gestational diabetes

How you might be feeling in trimester 1

Although you won’t look especially different in trimester 1, you’ll be feeling very different! During the first three months of pregnancy the chances are you will feel pretty shattered. In addition to tiredness you may feel sick and be suffering from heartburn, constipation and achy boobs. You might also feel as though you are spending a lot of time on the loo and be quite windy – thhrrrruummp! Remember; doing some activity may help ease some of these early symptoms, so do your best to stick to your exercise plan. Exercise can actually give you more energy! You are not limited by your body shape in this first trimester, so try to continue exercising if you enjoy it. Try some outdoor or new activities to give your exercise plan a real boost. This is the start of the rest of your life, so try and enjoy it! What better time to improve your health and fitness than on your journey into motherhood?

Trimester 1 safety

You can still do more or less what you were doing before you became pregnant, just use your common sense – nothing very high intensity or dangerous. If you are completely new to exercise, start by walking and swimming, starting some gentle resistance training in Trimester 2.

Start working your core abs now – Get to know your TVA!

That what?! The TVA (transversus abdominis) is the deepest abdominal muscle, which you can think of as the body’s own internal corset. You can activate it simply by first breathing in deeply and letting your chest expand then as you exhale, pulling in your tummy all the way round (as if you are wearing a corset!) and holding it in for a couple of seconds, then releasing. Make sure as you do so you can still breathe deeply and slowly. Getting control over the TVA and working it as often as possible is key to having a flat tum after you have had your baby. Do these ab squeezes as often as possible! Aim for 50 a day.

Pay attention to your pelvic floors

The pelvic floor muscles are located between your legs, and run from your pubic bone at the front to the base of your spine at the back. They give you control over your bladder and can be weakened by having children. But fear not! By doing some simple, regular exercise you will be able to strengthen them. Not only will these exercises help your bladder control, they may also increase the pleasure of having sex – so get started! While doing any pelvic floor exercises, put your hands on your belly and buttocks to make sure you can’t feel your belly, thighs, or buttocks moving (unless exercise specifies otherwise). Breathe normally and relax all other muscles. Don’t squeeze your knees together or tense any other part of your body. A quick way of finding the right muscles is by trying to stop the flow of urine when you’re in the toilet and the correct movement is an upward and inward contraction. Don’t make a habit of this though as it is not good for you! Try to do pelvic floor exercises 5-7 times a week (or more often if you can!) Make it easy for yourself – at work, on the bus or sitting watching TV. Here are a couple of ideas. Aim for 50 a day.

10 Minute Workout for Trimester One

Enjoy my exercises for pregnant women designed to fit into a busy lifestyle. These exercises will help maintain your fitness in pregnancy although ideally they should be part of a longer routine that includes some cardiovascular exercise as well. Now is a good time to establish a regular exercise routine and a sensible diet during pregnancy to help maintain your ideal pregnancy weight, optimum fitness levels and a healthy pregnancy! Remember to warm up and cool down and follow the instructions for your fitness level.

Want some more? Try the book.