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The Arms and Legs Workout
This routine can be done throughout your pregnancy (some moves do include trimester adaptations). Aim to do all of the exercises 3 times a week. Warm up by taking a brisk 5- to l0-minute walk; pump or swing your arms to warm up your upper body, adding arm circles if you like. When you’ve completed the workout, cool down by stretching your arms, back and legs. Hold each stretch without bouncing for about 30 seconds; don’t overstretch.
1. TRICEPS OVERHEAD EXTENSION
Sit back in a chair with your feet flat on the floor so your upper back is gently touching the chair back. Cup a dumbbell vertically between thumbs and forefingers and hold it behind your head, elbows bent and pointed toward the ceiling (A). Pull your navel in toward your spine to keep from swaying; squeeze shoulder blades together while keeping shoulders down. Keeping elbows stationary, straighten your arms, lifting the dumbbell toward the ceiling (B). Lower arms to starting position and repeat. Recommended weight: one 8- to 10-pound dumbbell. Do 2 sets of 10 reps, resting 1 minute between sets. What it does for you: This move gives great shape to the back of your upper arms and shoulders (and it’s easy to do throughout your pregnancy). Trimester tip: In the first trimester, you can do this standing; in your last trimester, place a pillow behind your back for support.
2. BICEPS CURL
Sit on the edge of a chair, feet flat on the floor. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, arms hanging by your sides so elbows are against your side, palms facing forward and wrists straight (A). Pull your navel toward your spine to help you sit up tall and keep your back from arching. Pull your shoulder blades down and back. Keeping your elbows stationary, bend one arm, curling dumbbell toward your shoulder (B). Lower; then bend the other arm for one rep (a rep equals a curl with both arms). Recommended weight: 5–10 pounds in each hand. Do 1–2 sets of 10 reps, resting 1 minute between sets. What it does for you: This move tones and firms your arms and prepares you for lugging around a baby and all that gear. Trimester tip: As your pregnancy progresses, you may want to sit farther back in the chair and place a pillow behind your back for support.
3. LATERAL RAISE
Stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing your body, and let your arms hang by your sides (A). Pull your navel toward your spine to help you stand tall. Squeeze your shoulder blades down and back; keeping a slight arc to your arms, lift arms out and up to shoulder height (B). Slowly lower and repeat. Do 1–2 sets of 10 reps, resting 1 minute between sets. Recommended weight: 3–8 pounds in each hand. What it does for you: This move gives shape to your shoulders by strengthening your upper back muscles and teaches you how to maintain proper posture. Trimester tip: In your second and third trimesters, sit in a chair and place a pillow behind your back for support.