Feeling frenzied all the time can take a toll on your fertility. Here’s how you can chillax and boost your odds of baby-making success.
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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.
That may depend on your exercise intensity and workout goals. As long as you have a low-risk pregnancy with no contraindications, such as high blood pressure or symptoms of premature labor, exercise is good for you, and aiming for a target heart rate can help you work out at an appropriate level. While the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that pregnant women use the "talk test" when exercising (if you can talk normally, your heart rate is acceptable), in 2002 Canadian experts suggested utilizing target heart rates.
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.
Moderate exercise is one of the best things a mom-to-be can do for herself. It's well known that regular leisure-time physical activity during pregnancy reduces the risk of gestational diabetes and preeclampsia. But there may be one caveat. According to research on Danish women, strenuous exercise—especially intense, "jolting"-type activity—early in pregnancy may increase the risk of miscarriage.
Can't get into a fitness groove now that you're pregnant? Then it's time to belly up, say sisters Neena & Veena, creators of several Bellytwins DVDs, including "Bellydance Core Conditioning" and the forthcoming "Belly Baby Prenatal Workout."
"In ancient history, belly dancing was always known as a preparation for childbirth," says Neena, who recently delivered her first child via water birth. The moves require squeezing and releasing the pelvic muscles to create the ripple effect as well as doing figure 8s with the hips.
Pregnancies don't get more fit than this! In the February/March issue of FitPregnancy, professional volleyball player and mother Gabrielle Reece shares her tips on how she stayed fit through both of her pregnancies. Read our extended interview with Gabby to find out more about her exercise routine, why she thinks exercising during pregnancy is so important, and how motherhood has changed her.
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.