Pre and Postnatal Health and Wellness
As a Mother of 3, Certified Holistic Nutrition Coach and Group Fitness Instructor, I’ve learned a thing or two about pre and postnatal nutrition and fitness. For starters, when I became pregnant with my first child, I remember feeling awfully sick, weak and lethargic; the exact opposite of how I usually feel. I recall thinking “this is not what I was expecting to feel!” Morning sickness, tired, sore feet just to name a few. I had many food aversions, mainly to things that I usually enjoyed eating such as chicken and salads or fruit. I became constipated and lacked energy.
I’m sure many women have these feelings during their pregnancies, and the question is, what to do about it? What do we do to ensure we are providing our body and growing baby with the adequate nutrients it needs? For starters, before conception, it is important that you prep your body for pregnancy. Think of your womb as a garden. To grow a strong, healthy garden, you must first lay down the soil and ensure you water the garden for it to bloom into a nourishing harvest. The same should happen with your body pre-pregnancy.
Ensure you are taking the right supplements such as folic acid, probiotics, a good multi vitamin, and B vitamins. Eat an assortment of leafy greens and vegetables that are rich in color to ensure you are intaking a diet rich in antioxidants. Omega 3 is an essential fatty acid that is critical for the brain development of your growing baby. We naturally are not intaking enough Omega 3 in our diets as is, and during pregnancy, the fetus uses omega 3 for its nervous system development. Postpartum, omega 3 is essential for the production of breast milk and studies have shown that it also helps prevent mood disorders and postpartum depression.
Pre and Postnatal Fitness
Next, I’d like to discuss a bit about pre and postnatal fitness. If you have been active pre-pregnancy, there is no reason why you shouldn’t continue your exercise routines with approval from your health care provider. With that being said, there are a few points to be made regarding prenatal fitness towards each trimester of your pregnancy.
First Trimester Exercises
For trimester 1 it is recommended that you try and monitor your heart rate when exercising. You should never be out of breath and unable to carry on a conversation. Wear a heart rate monitor to ensure you are working in the correct zone. If you are feeling nauseous, try and exercise! Go out for a brisk walk and get fresh air. During all 3 of my pregnancies, I always exercised even when I felt like vomiting, and guess what? I ALWAYS felt so much better whenI did. I also carried lemon water with me everywhere to help tame nausea.
Second Trimester Exercises
During the second trimester, you want to continue to monitor the heart rate when exercising. Avoid laying flat on your back after 14 weeks. When you lie on your back, your baby presses on the vein that returns blood from your lower body to your heart. Rather, try doing exercises on a stability ball. It will strengthen your core muscles and be safer for you and the baby.
When you are in a laying down position, try to lay on your side and push yourself up from the side rather than darting straight up. By darting up quickly, you are putting pressure on the core and may cause muscle separation known as diastasis recti; when your outer abdominal muscles separate and create a gap of more than 2 1/2 finger widths apart. I personally have experienced this with each of my pregnancies and am aware of it to this day when exercising. I found that wearing a splint post pregnancy really helped keep my core strong and strengthen the muscles. Highly recommend wearing one postpartum!
Third Trimester Exercises
The final stage is the third trimester. You might feel weak again just like the first trimester, not to mention heavier as the baby is almost full term. Try and take things lighter. At this stage, I engaged in Barre Fitness classes and yoga/meditation. These really helped prepare me for my delivery (highly recommend meditation!)