Pelvic floor exercises to stop you wetting yourself!

Pelvic floor exercisers don’t have to be boring and they will stop you weeing yourself!

The pelvic floor (PF) muscles are located between your legs and run from your pubic bone at the front to the base of your spine at the back. You can think of them as a shopping bag or hammock which supports all of your internal organs – an important job. To stick with this analogy, if you imagine you keep loading up your shopping bag its base will come under more and more strain. In the same way, the weight of your growing baby will put increased pressure on these muscles. They can also be weakened and experience some trauma through childbirth.

Read more about the function of your pelvic floor and get tons of exercises on my latest page.

Do’s and don’ts of exercising while pregnant

Guest post from Patricia Hogenes

Isn’t it an exciting time when you’re pregnant? While you are carrying, you want to think about exercise, because any fitness you build will help later on. For instance, doing bicep curls will be helpful when you are carrying the baby around the house. So what are the do’s and don’ts for pregnancy?

Do be moderate. If you exercised before the pregnancy, it is great to continue your workout routine, but just be moderate. If you used a weight workout regimen before pregnancy, it’s fine to continue that through the first trimester and even into the second. But by the third trimester, you’ll want to be cutting down on your use of weights. Here are some excellent resources with more information:

Do think of alternatives. If you were a runner before you were pregnant, but it’s now midsummer and really hot outside, maybe there is another way to get in a great aerobic routine, without facing the summer heat. Consider water aerobics. To replace the running, think about aqua walking. Just go to the community pool when the lap lanes are open and walk up and down the lap lanes. For more exertion, pick up the pace to aqua jogging. Do keep a water bottle at the end of the lane, to stay well hydrated.

Do use exercise for relaxation. With the stresses your body will be going through over the term of the pregnancy, exercise will function as a great relaxer. Your body sends out signals of calm and exuberance while you work out, and those will be transmitted to the baby, as well as making you relax more. You’ll be using that workout for double duty – keeping yourself peaceful, and helping grow a strong and happy baby.

Don’t overdo it. If you haven’t exercised much, and decide to start during pregnancy, it is perfectly fine to do that. A recommendation by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology is to engage in 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise per day, unless there is a complication. This is an excellent goal to strive for, but start by checking with your medical professional to make sure you’re cleared to begin exercise. Tell the doctor your plan, and make sure it will work for you. Begin with a low level of exercise, and gradually work up to higher levels over time. Don’t try to start with more than you can handle.

Don’t do really strenuous exercises. Be respectful of the changes your body is going through. Yes, it’s fine to exercise, but put some thought into the kinds of exercise which will be appropriate. For instance, there are some types of exercise that could put the belly at risk for trauma. Among those, off-road biking, horseback riding, gymnastics and downhill skiing are exercises that you might want to try later, after you’ve recovered from the pregnancy.

Don’t wait until later. With a lot of things happening in your world during the pregnancy, it would be easy to say “I do mean to work out, but I’ll just get started next week.” Putting things off is a common tendency, but during your pregnancy, time will be going fast, and it would be easy to quickly find yourself in the third trimester, not having worked out, and wishing you had. Start early, or if you’ve already been working out, don’t allow a break in your workout routine. You’ll be glad you did when it comes to the delivery, and after the child is born.

Smile when you think of your pregnancy, and how your exercise routine is making it a more powerful and positive experience.

Patricia Hogenes writes for AnApplePerDay.com, about kids, parenting, exercise and health. She is avid about her workouts, which have ranged from aqua jogging to marathon training to cycling. She and her husband also enjoy entertaining, and taking vacations with their kids.

You won’t believe what goes on inside your pregnant body without you even realising! Hormone changes and incredible adaptations

Red blood cells

Pregnancy can be a tough time, but try to remember how remarkable your body is. The journey to motherhood is incredible if you look at how your body changes and adapts to make its environment just right for your growing baby. This week we are going to look at what hormones are released in pregnancy and how they impact on exercise and the other changes that are going on inside your body that you should be aware of and reassured about in relation to safe exercising in pregnancy.

 

Hormones

Let’s look at four of the big players: relaxin, oestrogen, progesterone and insulin.

1. Relaxin

The role of relaxin is to relax the ligaments of the pelvis to enable the joints to separate to accommodate your growing baby. Later, for your pelvis to open up and your baby to be born.

However clever relaxin may be, it is not able to target the relaxing effect on just the pelvic area. It can cause joint laxity on ligaments and fibrous tissue anywhere in the body, including your back, hip joints, knees and ankles, which all become slightly more prone to injury. Its relaxing effect can also mean there is significant movement between pelvic joints which can range from mildly uncomfortably to excruciatingly painful.

Pregnant women may find that they have greater range of movement during pregnancy due to relaxin. This means it is really important not to overstretch when moving or stretching and stay within a normal range of movement. The effects of relaxin are less noticeable in first time mums; more so in subsequent and multiple pregnancies. It can take six months to return to normal levels (a small amount is always present in the body) but longer if you are breastfeeding, so relaxin is also a factor to consider in postnatal exercise prescription.

2. Oestrogen

Oestrogen has many important functions in pregnancy, including promoting growth of various bits and bobs like your uterus, breasts and your left ventricle (how marvellous!) It also has roles in regulating progesterone, the development of your placenta and baby and colostrum production.

Oestrogen also contributes to the increase in your metabolic rate and oedema (fluid retention), which both have an impact on your exercise programme. Regular exercise can help reduce fluid retention. Be mindful of your increased metabolic rate; you’ll need to take on extra calories if you are exercising (200-300 a day from healthy foods) and also have a slightly higher core temperature, so take care when working out not to overheat.

3. Progesterone

The roles of progesterone, like oestrogen, are many and varied. Levels of both increase steadily as pregnancy progresses. A function which will have a significant impact on working out is the way progesterone makes smooth muscle relax. This includes your oesophagus, blood vessels and digestive system (the reason for some of the delightful pregnancy ailments such as heartburn, varicose veins and piles).

Also impacting your exercise programme is the fact that progesterone helps to stabilise your blood pressure by relaxing your blood vessels and reducing venous return, meaning you may feel dizzy or light headed due to lower blood pressure.

It also increases your sensitivity to CO2, increasing oxygen levels when you breathe through an elevated breathing rate. This means you shouldn’t try and continue at pre-pregnancy exercise levels as you may be panting before you start!

Finally progesterone has the essential role of stopping important things happening before they should, including lactation and contractions.

4. Insulin

Insulin resistance increases in all women during pregnancy making their pattern of energy usage similar to that of a mild diabetic. This is actually your body’s way of making sure that blood glucose circulates for longer so that it can be properly absorbed by the placenta and the baby, so is not a bad thing! However, around 2-4% of women will develop gestational diabetes (which only lasts for the duration of the pregnancy) which may cause some birth defects and result in babies having to be delivered early by caesarean.

Gestational diabetes is usually treated through diet and exercise; overweight women are more likely to develop it. If you do suffer your Midwife will advise on treatment, but it will likely include healthy eating and regular exercise; what we should all be doing anyway!

The main thing to be aware of with exercise and pregnancy insulin levels is that regular training encourages increased insulin sensitivity, which could result in a drop in glucose being available to the baby during exercise. Just remember if you are working out to eat regularly and have a healthy snack before and after exercising.

If you have existing diabetes make sure you discuss your management plan with your Midwife so they can give you appropriate advice and support.

 

Your changing body during pregnancy

As you can see from our quick run down on the hormones there are lots of changes going on in your body during pregnancy, but this doesn’t mean you can’t be active. However, there are a few things to bear in mind. Just to make sure you have all the key information:

Be reassured:

Cool as a cucumber During pregnancy your core temperature rises by approximately 0.6 degrees celsius. Your sweat point lowers, enabling you to dissipate heat from yourself and your baby. This, along with a slightly elevated breathing rate, means that you have a fab inbuilt cooling mechanism and overheating is unlikely.

Go with the flow Cardio exercise will not compromise blood flow to your baby. Provided you are working out at a sensible intensity and not for too long (i.e. over an hour and a half) your body will direct blood to your baby ahead of your working muscles. Stop if your muscles feel fatigued.

Added bonus You are still getting all the ‘normal’ benefits of exercise in addition to the ones related to pregnancy. You’ll be boosting your immune system, improving your cardiovascular and muscle fitness and endurance, releasing endorphins and, hopefully, improving your body image.

Put your hands up! Some people say that you shouldn’t raise your hands above shoulder height in later pregnancy, in case the umbilical cord gets wrapped around your baby’s neck. This is an old wives’ tale and you can ignore it. Carry on raising your hands as long as it feels comfortable. You only need to be cautious if you have issues with high blood pressure.

Don’t count on it An old school of thought used to say in pregnancy your heart rate during exercise should not go above 140 BPM. There’s no right or wrong and every woman is different. A bit of a sweat is OK, but try to keep your effort level moderate – at around 60–70 per cent of your maximum heart rate. Don’t measure your heart rate; go by how you feel and make sure you can still hold a conversation (see page xx)

Be aware

Back in action If you lie on your back (supine) when your bump is big it may put pressure on your vena cava and affect blood flow, making you feel light-headed. This is called ‘supine hypotensive syndrome’. Avoid lying on your back for any length of time and try side and seated positions instead.

Full of hot air During pregnancy your need for oxygen increases, meaning your breathing rate rises. Later in pregnancy it also becomes harder to take a big breath as your belly expands. Moderate your workout intensity so you can breathe comfortably.

Huff and puff Progesterone is a hormone that relaxes smooth muscle and makes you more sensitive to CO2. This may mean your breathing rate increases and you get puffed more quickly. If this happens moderate your intensity.

Working overtime Your resting heart rate (HR) and blood pumped per beat will increase. This means that you should moderate cardio activity as pregnancy progresses. Keep your heart rate up, but make sure you are working at a sensible intensity and not pushing yourself too hard. Also, warm up gradually and steadily decrease intensity at the end of your workout – to bring your heart and breathing rates down gently.

Vascular underfill When you are first pregnant your body becomes less able to quickly divert your blood to where it is needed. This can make you feel dizzy and faint. If you do, adapt your exercise and avoid quick and frequent transitions (floor to standing etc) and being still for long periods.

What cardiovascular (CV) exercise is best and safest during pregnancy and why should I bother?!

You may well be feeling a bit pukey and/or constipated (the delights of pregnancy) if you are still in trimester 1, but hopefully that will start to getting better over the next couple of weeks. This feature is all about cardiovascular exercise. If you can face some it may well help ease those pesky pregnancy symptoms.

Cardio exercise is important for keeping your heart and lungs fit and healthy. You’ll need a good level of fitness and endurance for labour (one of the most demanding things your body will ever go through!) and looking after a new baby and the rest of the family (and yourself of course!) Why would you NOT want to improve your cardio fitness?

Read more…..

What is a healthy weight gain during pregnancy?

The latest NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) guidance, released in July 2010, says that:

  • Women who are a normal weight for their height (BMI 18.5–24.9) should gain 11.5–16 kg during pregnancy.
  • Overweight women (BMI 25–29.9) should gain 7–11.5 kg
  • Obese women (BMI greater than 30) should only put on 5–9 kg.

So try not to pack on more than this, otherwise you’ll still be left with a lot of weight to shift when your baby is born – this isn’t healthy for either of you. Try not to weigh yourself too often. Focus more on how your body looks and feels and remember that lean muscle weighs more than fat.

Where Does the Extra Weight Go During Pregnancy?

You’ll be pleased to hear that the weight you are putting on is not all sitting on your hips ready to bulge over the top of your fave jeans once you have had your baby. Here is a rough idea of where the weight goes:

Baby: 8 pounds

Placenta: 2-3 pounds

Amniotic fluid: 2-3 pounds

Breasts: 2-3 pounds

Blood: 4 pounds

Stored fat: 5-9 pounds

Uterus growth: 2-5 pounds

Total: 25-35 pounds

Remember that everyone is different and you may gain more or less than this.