5 Reasons to Register for a Prenatal Fitness Class this Summer

2 months is a long time to be inactive
By staying active you’ll maintain your muscle tone, posture, cardiovascular fitness, flexibility, mobility and mental health. Two months off can lead to increased aches and pains, decreased energy, deconditioning and the blues.

Circulation
The summer heat coupled with circulatory system changes during pregnancy can lead to swelling.  Did you know that regular exercise can help to prevent and reduce swelling?  As can regular water intake….and your instructor will remind you to stay hydrated during class.  

Energy
Heat can zap energy.  Exercise boosts energy.  Enough said.

A regular exercise schedule = regular exercise
Let’s face it, wen we sign up for something we do it.  When we make a workout date with a friend, we show up.  Without an exercise schedule, weeks, even months can pass by in the blink of an eye.  Create a schedule, pre-register for at least one class a week, and you will reap the rewards. I've never heard someone say, "I wish I didn't exercise today."

Connections
The friends you’ll make during your pregnancy will be your village once you become a parent.  Prenatal fitness classes are a great way to meet other moms-to-be who value active living and community.  

Melanie Osmack www.fit4two.ca

 

3 Reasons to Exercise in your Third Trimester

1. No one says, “I wish I didn’t exercise in my Third Trimester”

On the contrary.  Women who have continued exercising tell me that they are grateful that they didn’t stop.  They report having less aches and pains, less stress, better sleep and more energy. Women who have chosen not to exercise in their third trimester or who have had to stop exercising for medical reasons, tell me that being inactive wreaked havoc on their bodies. They report feeling sore, stiff and uncomfortable. They have also told me that their mental health suffered significantly. 

So unless there is a medical reason why you need to stop exercising in your third trimester, we recommend you keep on moving.  Be sure to review the national guidelines for exercise during pregnancy

2. It is recommended by The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada (SOGC)

“Women and their care providers should consider the risks of NOT participating in exercise activities during pregnancy, including loss of muscular and cardiovascular fitness, excessive maternal weight gain, higher risk of gestational diabetes or pregnancy induced hypertension, development of varicose veins and deep vein thrombosis, a higher incidence of physical complaints such as dyspnea or lower back pain, and poor psychological adjustment to the physical changes of pregnancy.”  (Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada and Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology, 2003)

“All women without contraindications should be encouraged to participate in aerobic and strength-conditioning exercises as part of a healthy lifestyle during their pregnancy.” (Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada and Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology, 2003)

3. Stress Relief

Common third trimester stressors include training your replacement at work; preparing your older child for a younger sibling; stretching your budget as your family grows; and deciding how to share (or not share) parental leave.  You might be feeling stressed by the many decisions you need to make.  From when to begin your maternity leave to where you want to give birth. Then there are the general fears of the unknowns: labour, birth, breastfeeding and parenting.  While the third trimester is an exciting time, it is also an overwhelming time and it can be very taxing on our mind, body and spirit.

Guess what? We have an app for that: Exercise.  Regular exercise is key to coping with life’s stressors during this special time. 

Whether you are continuing an active lifestyle or easing into one, be sure to review the national guidelines for exercise during pregnancy. 

Melanie Osmack is the founder of Fit 4 Two Pre and Postnatal Fitness as well as the Pregnancy & Exercise Awareness Movement.  She teaches classes in Vancouver, B.C., Canada.

5 Reasons to Attend a Prenatal-Specific Fitness Program

  1. Get the facts.  No need to wonder what to believe on the internet.  Your certified prenatal fitness instructor can provide you with the most up-to-date guidelines for exercise during pregnancy.  
  2. Safety first.  Certified prenatal fitness instructors take specialized training and must continue their education each and every year.  They know how to keep you safe while exercising.  
  3. Learn how to choose purposeful exercises.  While there are a plethora of exercises that you can do while your are pregnant, some are more purposeful than others.  A certified prenatal fitness instructor designs classes with the life and body of a pregnant woman in mind.
  4. Learn the most comfortable exercises for pregnancy.  Can pregnant women in their 3rd trimester do bent over rows? Yes? Will it be comfortable? Probably not.  A certified prenatal fitness instructor will choose exercises that are the most comfortable for the different stages of pregnancy.
  5. Build your village! Women who attend prenatal-specific fitness programs tell us that meeting other moms-to-be in their own community is one of the aspects they love most about attending classes.  

The best way to find a prenatal-specific fitness class in your community is to google 'prenatal fitness, your city'.  Be sure to scroll down past the ads to see what comes up organically.  You can also ask your healthcare provider for recommendations and check out your local community centre website. 

 

Why Exercising in Your 2nd Trimester is Awesome

For most women (sorry if you are not most women), the 2nd trimester is a time of renewed energy.  Nausea usually subsides or at least only rears its ugly head when blood sugar is low.  In fact, the 2nd trimester is when most women feel up to easing back into a fitness routine.

This is the ideal time to solidify healthy habits so you can enjoy the many benefits of an active pregnancy throughout your pregnancy and beyond.

Here are just a few of the benefits of exercise during your 2nd trimester.

Prevent Gestational Diabetes
Regular exercise helps to regulate blood glucose levels and maintain a healthy pregnancy weight.  These are two of the gestational diabetes risk factors that we can control.  

Prepare Your Core
Your growing uterus puts pressure on your abdominal wall, pelvic floor and connective tissues. Now is the time to connect with and strengthen your deep core muscles like your pelvic floor and transverses abdominals.  Your 3rd trimester self will thank you.

Protect your back
As your uterus gets heavier it pulls your pelvis forward increasing the curve in your lower back.  Having a strong core (see above) helps to take the strain off your back as you progress through your pregnancy.  Strengthening your glutes, and stretching your low back and hip flexors will help as well.

 

Accolades for Exercise in the 1st Trimester

Did you know that the SOGC recommends that all healthy women with uncomplicated pregnancies do both cardio and muscular conditioning exercises throughout each trimester?  It’s true! You can read their guidelines here.

So let’s talk about the benefits of exercise during the first trimester.

More energy
Many women report feeling extra fatigued during the first trimester.  No wonder! So much is happening during these 12 weeks.  During the first trimester, your baby grows faster than at any other time. By 12 weeks, your baby's bones, muscles and all the organs of the body have formed. All that embryonic development is taxing on mom’s body.

Here’s the good news: Many women find that exercise actually increases their energy. This is even more so if the exercise is outdoors and/or with others.  Try going for a light to moderate walk outside and test the waters.  How does it make you feel? If you find your energy improving, then take it up a notch to a brisk walk.
 
Less Nausea
Ok.  So we understand that there is nausea….and there is NAUSEA.  We are not suggesting you head out for a power walk with your barf bucket.   But lets say you have light nausea.  You might find that exercise helps to prevent, reduce and even curb the nausea all together.

Prepare your body
Though you may have been feeling tired and or nauseous, the major physical changes of pregnancy are yet to come.   Maintaining or gently improving your fitness levels now, will help you better deal with postural changes and muscular imbalances of the 2nd and 3rd trimester. 

Stress management
When do I tell my boss? What if I have a miscarriage? Where am I going to put a baby in my 600 square foot condo?  Confirmation of pregnancy, planned or not, can be a very stressful time.  Many women keep their pregnancies private for the first 3 months.  This means they often have to cope with this stress on their own.  Exercise is a proven stress buster.  Even more so if exercising with a like group or exercising outdoors.  

Safety First
Ready to get moving? Awesome.  Please be sure to listen to your body and talk to your healthcare provider before resuming or beginning a fitness program.  We also recommend reviewing the guidelines for exercise during pregnancy.

 

Diastasis Recti - Abdominal Separation

By Fit 4 Two® Founder and Director, Melanie Osmack

I have been educating myself and others on diastasis recti since 2002. I go out of my way to read everything I can get my hands on, connect with researchers and pick the brains of women’s health physiotherapists. I head the local medical library twice a year in search of new research.

I pass what I learn onto our franchisees and instructors not just so we can keep you safe, but so we can empower you with research-based information.  I take pride in the fact that Fit 4 Two® provides programs that are not just safe but also beneficial for women with diastasis recti.

In short, I am a self-professed diastasis recti nerd and I thought it was high time to share an update.

What is diastasis recti?
Diastasis Recti (DR), often called abdominal separation, occurs when there is an over stretching of the fascia, the linea alba, that runs vertically between the right and left rectus abdominis muscles. It is often defined as a gap of 3cm+ and can occur anywhere between your pubic bone and your xiphoid process. This over stretching also causes the linea alba to lose tension.

What causes diastasis recti?
Diastasis recti is more common than we once thought. Current research indicates that a majority of pregnant women develop DR. It is caused by a combination of pregnancy hormones dedicated to softening connective tissue and increased intra-abdominal pressure.

Abdominal separation usually develops in the 3rd trimester when the growing uterus puts the most strain on the abdominal wall.  Some women develop DR during the pushing stage of labour as well.  I have seen it emerge in the second trimester among Fit 4 Two® participants who are petite in stature, short waisted, carrying multiples, had DR in a previous pregnancy or who are blessed with a bountiful belly sooner than later.  DR is usually persistent postpartum so a post natal assessment is important.

Why does diastasis recti matter?
DR does not usually cause pain locally, but it often leads to back pain, pelvis pain, and pelvic floor dysfunction during and after pregnancy.  Postpartum, it may affect the aesthetic of how a tummy looks.  Some women with DR look ‘pregnant’ several months postpartum, have a belly button that looks like an extreme ‘outie’ or notice a severe coning shape when they do a curl up.  In some cases, if the diastasis is at the umbilicus, it can make women more susceptible to a hernia.  The good news is that it can usually be rehabilitated post partum.

Though there is no research proving that we can cause an abdominal separation, there is some that indicates we could worsen one once we have it.  This is why we educate about DR at our Fit 4 Two® classes and either offer to assess for it or encourage moms-to-be and new moms to get assessed by their healthcare provider or a women’s health physiotherapist.

How do I know if I have it?
While you can check for DR yourself, I recommend having your abdominal muscles assessed by a professional that has more experience.  This might be your healthcare provider, a women’s health physiotherapist or a certified pre and postnatal fitness specialist.

Typically, the person assessing you will ask you to lie on a mat on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.  If you are 16+ weeks pregnant, they will likely have you on an incline with your head above your heart so that you don’t get dizzy.  As you raise your shoulders off the mat, they will use their fingers to feel for both sides of your rectus abdominis and measure the gap in between.  Generally speaking, a gap of 3cm+ at the umbilicus or 1cm+ above or below the umbilicus, is considered a diastasis.

If you are being assessed postpartum, it will be more involved.  They will also want to assess the tension of your linea alba, how your gap change or doesn’t change when you engage your deep core muscles before and during the curl up and so on.  

If you are pregnant, and you DO NOT have DR
It is safe and beneficial to train your pelvic floor, transverses abdominals, erector spinae, rectus abdominals and obliques if you can do the exercise well, without pain, without breath holding and with good form.  Avoid exercises that cause your tummy to bulge or your back to sway.    If you aren’t sure about your form, ask a women’s health physiotherapist or a certified pre and postnatal fitness specialist to assess you while you do the exercise.

If you are 16+ weeks pregnant, supine (lying on your back) exercises should be done on an incline (head higher than your lower body).  This is to avoid putting too much pressure on the vena cava which may cause dizziness.

As you enter into your third trimester, when developing DR is very common due the growing uterus putting strain on the abdominal wall, I recommend that you start exercising as though you have DR.  As mentioned, we do not have research to prove that we can cause it through movement patterns, but it seems like a logical choice to avoid putting excess strain on an abdominal wall that is already enduring a lot of pressure.  This is my current opinion and I look forward to seeing more research done in this area.

If you are carrying twins or multiples, I recommend that you begin exercising like you have DR by about 20 weeks of pregnancy.  You may have already developed an abdominal separation by then anyways, but I feel it would be wise to avoid putting excess strain your your abdominal wall sooner than later.

If you are pregnant and you have DR

1. Avoid abdominal exercises that put strain on the rectus abdominis like abdominal curls, v-sits and front planks. You'll want to avoid other less obvious exercises that engage the rectus abdominals like push-ups and cable pulley tricep press downs.  When in doubt, ask your physiotherapist or certified pre and postnatal fitness specialist for guidance.

2. Focus on pelvic floor and transverses abdominal exercises to prevent discomforts and prepare for postpartum recovery. Pelvic floor lifts (Kegels) and baby hugs are good choices.

3. Choose mindful movement strategies.  Ex. When getting up out of bed, roll over onto your side and use your upper body muscles to bring yourself to sitting.

4. If you are not already seeing a women’s health physiotherapist, I recommend booking an appointment. Through a full assessment, they might find that there are treatable muscular imbalances contributing to the diastasis and related discomforts.

5. Register for a prenatal specific fitness program with instructors who are not just certified to teach fitness, but certified to work with pre AND postnatal women.  At Fit 4 Two® all our prenatal classes are designed to support women who have DR and other prenatal related conditions.

If you are postpartum

Remember, even if you didn’t have DR in pregnancy, you may have developed it during the pushing stage of labour.

While you can check for DR yourself, I recommend having your abdominal muscles assessed by a professional that has more experience.  This might be your healthcare provider, a women’s health physiotherapist or a certified pre and postnatal fitness specialist.

If you have an abdominal separation postpartum

1. Avoid abdominal exercises that put strain on the rectus abdominis like abdominal curls, v-sits and front planks. You will want to avoid other less obvious exercises that engage the rectus abdominals like push-ups and cable pulley tricep press downs.  When in doubt, ask your physiotherapist or certified pre and postnatal fitness specialist for guidance.

2. Focus on pelvic floor and transverses abdominal exercises.  If you are not sure where to start, seek out a Fit 4 Two® Tummies 4 Mommies program or book a one-on-one session with a women’s health physiotherapist or a certified pre and postnatal fitness specialist.

3. Don’t cave under the pressure to ‘bounce back after baby’.  It took 10 months for your body to grow an amazing human being.  Give yourself time to restore your core and mindfully ease back into fitness.  Do you want to set yourself back weeks or even months because you ignored your diastasis?  I think not. Show your amazing body some love.

4. Choose mindful movement strategies.  Ex. When getting up out of bed, roll over onto your side and use your upper body muscles to bring yourself to sitting.

5. If you are not already seeing a women’s health physiotherapist, I recommend booking an appointment. Through a full assessment, they might find that there are treatable muscular imbalances contributing to the diastasis and related discomforts.  Wouldn’t you rather find that out sooner than later?

6. When you are ready, seek out a postnatal specific fitness program with instructors who are not just certified to teach fitness, but certified to work with pre AND postnatal women.  At Fit 4 Two® we offer a postnatal core rehabilitation program called Tummies 4 Mommies® and all our multi-level postnatal fitness classes are designed to support women who are healing DR and other common perinatal conditions.

But I read on the Internet....

I love the Internet.  It is an inspiring place where we can gather information and ideas.  It gives us a platform for communication anytime, anywhere.  It's one off my favourite things.  Unfortunately, there is no 'accuracy police' making sure that everything posted as fact is based on actual evidence.

If you read something on the Internet that contradicts any of the advice on this page, especially if it makes you feel nervous about choosing the benefits of an active pregnancy or postpartum, I hope you will contact me at melanie@fit4two.ca

 

How to Exercise Safely Through Your Pregnancy

Canadians are fortunate in that the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada (SOGC) and the Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology (CSEP) have created joint guidelines for exercising during pregnancy.  These guidelines are created by a committee and are research-based.  CSEP then used this information to create the PARmed-X for Pregnancy form.  This is a medical clearance form that contains helpful information about prenatal fitness guidelines.

Cardiovascular Exercise
Pregnant women are encouraged to do cardiovascular exercise for up to 30 minutes up to 4 days a week.  Beginners should start with 15 minutes and gradually work towards 30 minutes.  These times to not include warm-up or cool-down.  For intensity, the PARmed-X for Pregnancy recommends a combination of 2 of the following methods: talk test, rate of perceived exertion and heart rate check. 

Choose activities that you enjoy, are comfortable and do not put you in danger of falling, colliding with others, projectiles, high altitudes or decompression (I.E. scuba diving).  If you are used to high impact activities like running, and it still feels good, you can continue to run up to 30 minutes up to 4 days a week.  If you are not, stick to low impact cardiovascular activities such as power walking, low impact aerobics and stationary cycling.

Strength Training
The SOGC and CSEP recommend strength training for all healthy pregnant women with normal pregnancies.  The focus should be on muscular endurance.  In other words, choose a resistance that allows you to do 2-3 sets of 10-16 repetitions with good form.  Aim to strength train 3 days a week and choose exercises that you enjoy and are comfortable.  After 4 months (16 weeks) of pregnancy, avoid exercising flat on your back.  If you have an abdominal separation, or are not sure if you have one, please read this important article.  Certain exercises can actually make it worse.

Core Exercises
Pregnant women need strong core muscles in order to prevent pain, injury and to maintain good posture and function.  The core includes deep muscles such as the pelvic floor (Kegel muscles) and transversus abdmoninals (corset muscles) as well as the more superficial muscles like the rectus abdominals (6 pack), obliques (waist) and erector spinae (back). Aim to do deep core exercises most days of the week and superficial core exercises 3-4 days a week. 

After 4 months (16 weeks) of pregnancy, avoid exercising flat on your back.  If you have Diastasis Recti (abdominal separation), or are not sure if you have one, please read this important article.  Certain core exercises can actually make it worse.

Flexibility
Maintaining healthy flexibility and mobility can prevent pain and injury during pregnancy.  Pregnant women should stretch after each workout.  Stretches for the chest and front of the shoulders can help with preventing and correcting excessive kyphosis (rounding forward of the back and forward position of the chin), a common complaint of pregnancy.  Stretches for the low back, hip flexors, quadriceps and hamstrings can help with preventing excessive lordosis (pelvis tipping forward creating a very large inward curve at the low back area).  Since low back pain is the number one complaint of pregnancy, this is important information.

It is postulated that one of the hormones of pregnancy, relaxin, may make pregnant women more vulnerable to overstretching.  For this reason many healthcare providers recommend gentle stretching.

To view the full joint CSPE-SOGC guidelines click here.

Are you active enough this pregnancy?  Take the Quiz.

10 Reasons Pregnant Women Should Exercise

1. Energy
One of the best ways to increase energy levels is to get moving.  Exercise delivers oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and helps your cardiovascular system work more efficiently.  This results in more energy for everyday tasks.  

2. Comfort
Most pregnancy aches and pains come from muscular imbalances, pressure of the growing uterus and a shifting of the spine and pelvis.  Regular exercise, especially muscular endurance, prenatal specific core work and stretching can help prevent and reduce these discomforts.

3. Injury Prevention
Just like a well maintained car is less likely to breakdown, so is a fit and healthy body.  Many woman complain of feeling somewhat clumsy during pregnancy.  Adding muscular endurance, prenatal specific core work and balance exercises to your routine can help increase coordination.

4. Healthy Weight Gain
Healthy weight gain helps to prevent pregnancy complications such a gestational diabetes, high blood pressure and an increase in labour interventions.  

5. Healthy Blood Pressure
Cardiovascular exercise helps to maintain a healthy blood pressure.

6. Prevention of Gestational Diabetes
Regular cardiovascular exercise helps to prevent and manage gestational diabetes. This reduces the incidence of labour interventions and cesarean birth.  It also reduces the likelihood of the mother and child developing Type II Diabetes later in life.

7. Mental Health
Exercise is a safe, accessible and noninvasive way to prevent and manage depression and anxiety.  

8. Stamina for Labour and Parenting
Ask any woman who has gone through labour and she will tell you that it was one of the most physically intense endeavors she has ever experienced.  Ask any parent of young children and they will assure you that parenting is seriously physical work.  Fact: Being strong, fit and healthy will help make parenting more manageable.

9. Stress Reduction
AS beautiful and wonderful as pregnancy is, it also brings stressors such as medical tests, relationship tension, financial worries and more.  Exercise is a proven tool for reducing stress.

10. Role Modeling
Pregnant women have a unique opportunity to set the stage for an active family.  Our 2015 Pregnancy & Exercise Awareness Month theme is Be a Role Model.  Be sure to follow us on Facebook as we illustrate just how important being an active parent is for our children.

Now let’s talk about exercising safely through your pregnancy.

5 ways running a marathon is like labour and childbirth


1. You should train for it.  Just as you would begin a walk/run program, slowly increasing your distance and speed, a solid prenatal fitness training program will prepare you physically, mentally and emotionally for labour and delivery.

2. They are long.  The average marathon time for a 30-year-old woman is around 5 hours.  The average first time labour is 16 hours.

3. They are intense. Running at a steady pace for 5 hours is a tremendous challenge.  Labouring for 16 hours is a life-altering challenge.

4. You get a prize. Medals are cool but babies are super cool.

5. You never forget it.  You will always remember feeling like you couldn’t do it.  You will never forget how it felt to hold your baby (or your medal) in your hands.

4 Reasons you want to be strong during pregnancy

Posture
As your uterus grows and becomes heavier, it pulls your pelvis forward causing extra strain on your lower back.  As your breasts grow heavier, your upper backs being to round forward and your shoulders start rolling in.  Strengthening and stretching the right muscles can prevent and minimize poor posture.

Pain
The postural changes described above often cause pain, especially back pain. Strengthening and stretching the right muscles can prevent and minimize pain.

Function
As your pregnancy progresses, normal movements and activities will begin to feel harder.  If you are strong, you will be better able to handle the extra intensity and avoid injuries.

Confidence
Staying strong during your pregnancy will improve your physical, mental and emotional confidence.

4 Ways Attending a Prenatal Fitness or Yoga Class can Help you Prepare for Labour

Labour is called labour for a reason. Its hard work…and we recommend training for it.  Attending a prenatal fitness or yoga class taught be a certified pre and postnatal fitness specialist can help you to prepare.  You can expect to:

1. Practice breath work for stress reduction and coping with the sensation of pain.

2. Learn how to activate and tone your pelvic floor muscles in order to reduce the likelihood of pelvic organ prolapse, perineal tearing or the need for an episiotomy.

3. Practice comfort positions that you can use during pregnancy and labour.

4. Strengthen and lengthen the muscles necessary for the many positions and movements of labour and childbirth.

When looking for a prenatal fitness or yoga class, pick up your local community centre guide or do a search on google.  Look for instructors who are certified fitness trainers with additional certifications in pre and postnatal fitness

Preparing for Your Growing Baby

Most babies double their birth weight in the first 2 to 4 months.  You need muscles!  Try this fun test to see if you are MUSLCE READY for parenting.

Hold an 8lb dumbbell in one hand.  Make it your dominant hand.  Now move your hand about a foot from your side body.  Walk around.  Now take that weight another foot away from your side body.  How’s that feeling?  Chances are, not good.  Ouch!

The average infant car seat holding a newborn dressed in one layer with a blanket on top is 18lbs!!!  You are holding 8 lbs!!!  Are you beginning to get my point?

From the day you take your baby home from the hospital you are going to need a strong and stable body.  Pregnancy is your opportunity to prepare.  You won’t regret it. Click here for strength training guidelines and tips.

P.S. It’s always best to click your car seat into the stroller rather than carry it around for any length of time.  Carrying that much weight that far from your side body for a long time can mess with your rotator cuffs.  As a new parent, you don’t have time for an injury. 

5 exercises you can do during pregnancy to give you more stamina for labour

Labour can last a few hours, day or longer. It requires incredible mental, emotional and physical strength. Here are 5 exercises to help you build stamina for the big day.   

Squats and Lunges
Labour involves a lot of walking, getting up, getting down, dancing and standing.  It also involves having the strength to hold challenging positions for long periods of time. You need strong legs and glutes.  Squats and lunges are ideal because they are functional movements and you don’t need any special equipment.  Aim to do 10-15 of each every other day.

Power Walking
We won’t belabor (pun intended) the possible length of labour....so let’s just say that being in good cardiovascular shape heading into labour is well worth it.  I’ve never heard anyone say “I wish I hadn’t stayed fit and strong during my pregnancy.”  Have you?  Aim for power walk for 20-30 minutes 4 days a week.  

Pelvic Floor Toning
The weight of your growing uterus and the pushing stage of labour put tremendous pressure on your pelvic floor.  A healthy and toned pelvic floor has more stamina for childbirth.  If you are not sure how to activate your pelvic floor, talk to a pre and postnatal fitness specialist or physiotherapistThis article is a good place to started  

Super Moms
Chance are you will want to spend some time, perhaps a long time, on your hands and knees during labour.  It is important to build up strength for holding that position.  This exercise has the added bonus of strengthening AND lengthening your body.  Plus the more time we spend on our hands and knees during the third trimester the greater the chances of optimal fetal positioning. I.E. Baby is more likely to be in the correct position, head down facing mom’s spine, for birth.  

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If you live in B.C. or Manitoba, Fit 4 Two invites you to come and try a FREE class in February.  Contact your local Fit 4 Two Location to RSVP.



5 Ways Exercise During Pregnancy Will Help You THRIVE!

1. Exercise increases energy and boosts mood. 

2. People who exercise on a regular basis are often happier.

3. Prenatal specific core exercises and stretches can prevent and reduce back pain. 

4. Regular exercise means less cold and flus. 

5. Active people report feeling more productive at work and in life.

What are you waiting for?! If you are a healthy woman with a normal pregnancy, it's time to get moving.  Talk to you doctor or midwife about programs in your area. 

We recommend completing a PARmed-X for Pregnancy form with your healthcare provider before beginning or continuing an exercise program during pregnancy.

3 exercises that will help you birth in the position you choose

Are you hoping to birth in a squatting position?  On your side?  On all fours?  Here are 3 exercises that will give you the strength and flexibility you'll need when your baby is ready to be born be born.

Squatting lengthens and strengthens the muscles needed to birth in a squatting, semi-squatting, hands and knees or even standing position.

Lunges increase gluteal and thigh strength which will come in handy if you decide to push in a side-lying or squatting position.

Hands and knees exercises (Ex. Cat/Cow, Super Mom) will give you the strength and stamina needed if you spend a prolonged period of time in this position during labour. Added bonus: Spending time on your hands (or elbows) and knees during the third trimester helps with optimal fetal positioning.  In other words, it can help to decrease your changes of a breech or posterior birth.

Need some guidance and motivation? Contact info@fit4two.ca for a TRY A FREE CLASS pass. We also have an excellent blog post outlining the current prenatal fitness guidelines here.

5 Ways Exercise Makes Pregnancy Better

1. Exercise prevents and reduces pain.  The #1 complaint during pregnancy is lower back pain.  Squats, lunges, and deep core exercises prevent and minimize back pain.  So does stretching the back, hamstrings, glutes and quadriceps.

2. Regular cardiovascular exercise during pregnancy reduces your chances of developing gestational diabetes. While there are risk factors out of your control, eating well and exercise can have a significant impact.

3. Moving is good for the mind!  Exercise reduces stress and boosts mood. That is healthy for you AND your baby.

4. Active women are more likely to gain an appropriate amount of weight during pregnancy.  Weight is a taboo topic in our culture but excessive weight gain during pregnancy increases the chances of health complications during pregnancy, birth and beyond.  

5. Exercise increases energy!  Many pregnant women suffer from low energy throughout their pregnancies.  Many find that regular exercise makes a significant difference.

Need some guidance and motivation? Contact info@fit4two.ca for a TRY A FREE CLASS pass. We also have an excellent blog post outlining the current prenatal fitness guidelines here.

 

Can Exercising During Pregnancy Reduce Obesity in Offspring?

Dr. Edward Archer certainly thinks so, an his argument is compelling.  "The best solution to the obesity epidemic is to encourage would-be mothers to increase their levels of physical activity so that they can prepare their metabolism for pregnancy and have leaner, healthier children." Archer, National Post July 2015.  He summarizes his theory in the full article and you can read his original paper here.

An interesting extension of our 2015 theme, "It's never too early to be an active role model".  Stay tuned for our 2016 theme.

Dos and Don'ts for Pregnant Fitness Instructors and Trainers

Do take care of yourself

Pregnancy is a state of wellness, not an illness.  That said, it is also a time of immense physical, emotional and mental changes.  Take the time to listen to your body.  If you are tired, rest.  If you are hungry, nourish yourself.  Your health and pregnancy should be the priority.

Do be a positive role model

When you make healthy choices your participants and clients will take note.   You are their inspiration.  Assuming your pregnancy is healthy, choose an active pregnancy that follows the national guidelines for safety.  Click here to learn why an active pregnancy is important.

Do follow the guidelines

If you are not familiar with the national guidelines for exercise during pregnancy, now is the time to get to know them.  For the basics, we suggest starting here.  If you want more in depth knowledge, or if you plan to train pre and postnatal women, it is important to get certified.

Don’t use the “but I’m a trainer” excuse

There are no unique evidence-based prenatal fitness guidelines for fitness instructors or trainers.  Your body goes through the same changes whether you are a fitness professional or a physically active engineer.   The national prenatal fitness guidelines are for all healthy pregnant women with normal a pregnancies. Being a trainer does not give you a free pass to ignore them.  Besides, this is your opportunity to be a role model.

Don’t hold onto classes or clients that are no longer working for you

Sometimes, no matter how skilled an experienced we are as trainers, some classes or clients suffer when we are going through physical, emotional or mental changes.  I once had to give up training a client because I had a shoulder injury.  This client expected me to lift, move and adjust equipment.  She also needed me to model most exercises.  I couldn’t do either.  When I was 6 months pregnant with my son I was teaching a 45 minute spin class.  I was teaching it in a way that allowed me to stay inside the national prenatal fitness guidelines by keeping my tension moderate, getting off my bike and motivating during anaerobic sprints and implementing some group ‘games’.  However, as we got deeper into summer, the area where I taught was becoming uncomfortably hot. Heat being a teratogen during pregnancy, I decided it would be safer if I passed the class onto another instructor.  I’ve known many instructors who switched from morning classes to evenings classes due to morning sickness or who chose to stop teaching bootcamp because they developed diastasis recti and could no longer demonstrate most of the exercises without making their abdominal separation worse.  Take some time to ruminate on your current teaching and training regime.  Is it working for you?  Is it working for your clients?  

About the Author

Melanie Osmack is the founder of director of Fit 4 Two and a member of the Pregnancy and Exercise Awareness Advisory Team.  You can learn more about her here.

Photo Grattitude

Thank you to Aileen Hunt of Fit 4 Two Winnipeg for the photo of her teaching while pregnant with her baby girl.

 

Kids Under 6?

Then you won't be surprised to find out that most parents with kids under six-years-old struggle to make time for fitness.  Parenting young children is busy, messy, unpredictable and tiring.  It is also rewarding, heart-warming, fun and exciting.  Regardless, making time for self-care can be a challenge.

Stay-at-home parents, you might not believe me but this is often the easiest time to fit in exercise.  You can take baby for a power walk in the stroller/carriers, attend a mom & baby fitness class, do some body-weight exercises while baby naps at home or in the stroller.  Working outside the home parents, I know what you are thinking.  How can you justify going to the gym after work when you should be home helping your partner with the baby?  Have you heard of the oxygen mask analogy?  If you don't take care of yourself it is hard to take care of others.  Talk to your partner about a family exercise schedule that honors everyone's needs.

We like Active for Life because they offer fun ideas about being active with kids

80% of parents think their kids are getting enough exercise...

.... but only 7% of Canadian children are meeting the recommended amount of Moderate to Vigorous Physical Activity (MVPA) each week. 

What can we do about it?

1. Be Active

Kids do what kids see.  Some studies suggest that if both parents are active, their kids will be 5.8X more likely to be active themselves.

2. Be Active With Your Kids

Why not make family time + active time?  Check out Active for Life for some fun and realistic ideas for families of all ages and stages.  We are also big fans of the BC Healthy Living Alliance.

3. Support Your Kids in Sport

If your child wants to try a new sport, do your best to provide the opportunity.  If finances are an issue, check out programs like Jump Start and Kid Sport Canada  Most community and recreation centres also have access programs as well.