An Osteopath’s Guide to Feeling Good Throughout Pregnancy
by Andrew Mitchell
As any mother will admit, pregnancy places tremendous strain on the body. On average, women gain around 30 pounds during pregnancy, resulting in a big postural change. It can be incredibly laborious to carry all that extra weight around, not to mention extremely exhausting for the body. Some of our leading osteopaths have offered some tips and exercises that you can do, even before going into labour, in order to assuage the physical burdens of pregnancy.
Work-out sessions: It is great to have a regular work-out routine when you are pregnant, but it is important that you adjust your routine accordingly depending on how much your body can take during pregnancy. We recommend doing three or four work-out sessions a week of approximately 30-minutes each during your first and second trimesters. When it comes to your third trimester, shorten your routine by 10 minutes so as to accommodate your heavier belly.
Types of Exercises: While cardio exercises can be beneficial, we recommend exercises that keep your heart rate controlled. It is good to break out sweat, but do not allow your heart rate to exceed 145 bpm. Exercises such as squats and lunges (without weights) are highly recommended, as well as swimming and brisk-walking. Swimming is particularly rewarding during your final trimester, as the water supports your body and relieves muscle tension. Cycling and gentle aerobics are also highly recommended. Carry out many short stretches before and after each work-out to stimulate the flood flow and improve the flexibility of your joints and muscles.
Movements/Exercises to Avoid: It is best to abstain from partaking in high-impact and contact sports, such as squash or football. When warming up, do not hold a stretch for longer than 5-6 seconds. If you hold a stretch too long when pregnant and vulnerable, your body release a hormone known as ‘relax’ which (while necessary for going into labour), when released prematurely, can damage the areas around the joints. Additionally, avoid overexerting yourself – this means that you should refrain from lifting heavy objects.
Dietary tips: A balanced diet is, of course key to helping you, and your baby, feel at your best. Just because you are eating for two does not mean you have to eat twice as much as you normally do – a pregnant woman needs about 2500 calories every day. In order to get the right amounts of energy and nutrition, it is advisable to eat something from each food group: fruits and vegetables, dairy products, whole grains, and protein (fish, meat, etc.).
Visit an Osteopath: In order to keep a close watch on the changes your body is going through, start seeing an osteopathic doctor early on in the first trimester. This way, if you are doing your exercises incorrectly, or if certain muscles are under too much strain, we can step in sooner than later.
It is never easy being pregnant, what with weight gain, back aches, raging hormones, and sheer exhaustion. But hopefully, with the help of an osteopath and the techniques above, your passage from pregnant woman to loving mother will not only be bearable, but enjoyable.