The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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Pregnancy can be a miraculous experience, but along with the joy come aches and pains. As your belly and breasts grow, you may start to feel stiff and sore, especially in your back and neck. "Gentle and supportive stretches relieve discomfort, boost circulation and increase your energy level," says Jennifer Gianni, certified Pilates instructor and creator of the DVD series Fusion Pilates for Pregnancy (fusionpilates.com).
It's best to discuss this with your doctor. Here's why: In the first trimester, the fetus is well protected within the uterus, which in turn is safely tucked behind the pelvic bones. As such, if you were to suffer a hard fall or a blow to the abdomen from an errant ski, your baby would very likely be protected. However, after 13 weeks, the uterus begins to expand beyond the pelvis; this could put your baby at risk if you were to take a fall or get hit in the belly.
Every breath you take is a path to a happier, healthier and more profound experience of pregnancy and childbirth. That's the message Los Angeles' celebrated certified Kundalini yoga teacher, Anna Getty, imparts in her new prenatal DVD series, Divine Mother (annagetty.com).
What's the one workout that suits pregnant women of all stripes? "Walking," chorused the group I interviewed for my book, Walking Through Pregnancy and Beyond (The Lyons Press, 2004). For everyone--from the Texas triathlete and coach who needed to scale back, to a Colorado woman who simply pledged to walk the short distance to work--walking was both as gentle and as challenging as they needed it to be.
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.
Consider yoga a way to stay physically healthy and emotionally grounded. It addresses challenges inherent to pregnancy and childbirth while nourishing the spirit to set the stage for confident parenting. Pregnant fitness buffs will find that yoga’s asanas (postures) rival any other workout in keeping the body toned and flexible. Women with more difficult pregnancies find physical and emotional comfort in yoga’s gentle, restorative poses and breathing techniques.