The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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The problem: Weight gain, a shifting center of gravity, and ligament-loosening hormones all contribute to aches and pains as your pregnancy progresses. The solution: Strengthen your core muscles to support your back and spine, and stretch your shoulders, upper back, quads and hip flexors with these simple exercises. Looking for more? These 10 yoga poses are safe for every trimester.
A Pilates workout will help you stay fit and feel comfortable at every stage of your baby’s growth. Because Pilates work engages your deepest core muscles, pelvic floor, hips and spine, you’ll develop muscle strength and memory that will help your body recover faster post-pregnancy. Although Pilates is one of the safest workouts you can do when you’re expecting, be sure to check with your doctor before you begin this or any workout program.
Miraculous changes happen to your body in each trimester of your pregnancy —but each phase presents new challenges, too.
The hardest part of any vigorous training program is not the early, dark mornings or the sore quads or even the occasional injury scare. Nope. The hardest part is the rest days—those days in between runs where you feel restless bored and uncertain, where you miss running and wish it was any other day and suddenly feel depressed and like you are totally wasting your life and doing nothing all because you did not raise your heartrate that day.
Or maybe that is just me.
You know the feeling: Your pregnant body doesn’t move as it did before, your mind is mush and your emotions are all over the place. In short, everything has changed. A healthy way to deal with these changes is through exercise, specifically exercise in which the body and mind work together. “If women think they’re stressed before they get pregnant, they ain’t seen nothin’ yet,” says Alice Domar, Ph.D., director of the Mind/Body Center for Women’s Health at Harvard Medical School. Exercise can be the perfect antidote to stress.
Pilates is a wonderful activity that you can continue throughout pregnancy with some modification. It offers gentle muscle strengthening while improving balance, which can be a real benefit as your body's shape and size evolves.
Get your body and mind ready for labor with prenatal Pilates. "Practicing Pilates throughout pregnancy, even in short spurts, will prepare you to stay focused and relaxed during delivery," says Lizbeth Garcia, creator of the 10 Minute Solution: Prenatal Pilates DVD. This program, based on Garcia's DVD, will benefit your body during pregnancy and labor by building balance, strength and stamina and is appropriate for any fitness level as well as safe for each trimester. You can do this program three times a week, repeating each move for 5 to 10 reps.
How the Fantastic One stays that way....
Actress Jessica Alba, appearing on the cover of Fit Pregnancy's June/July issue, was very close to delivering her first baby - and to her wedding with dad-to-be Cash Warren - when we spoke to her trainer, Ramona Braganza, creator of the "3-2-1 Workout." And Alba was still going strong. Here's how she stayed in such great shape before and during her pregnancy.
Prenatal Pilates is an ideal workout for moms-to-be. For one thing, the moves strengthen the entire body, especially the muscles used during labor: the abdominals, lower back and pelvic floor. Practicing Pilates regularly also can relieve lower-back discomfort and other pregnancy-induced aches and pains, as well as help you feel supple and relaxed.
You may be eager to get back in shape after the birth of your baby, but it can be tough to find time to exercise when you’re juggling feedings, diaper changes and piles of laundry—all on minimal sleep. To the rescue: these fun, body-sculpting moves from the recently released book Pee Wee Pilates: Pilates for the Postpartum Mother and Her Baby (Da Capo Press, 2005).