by Christine Strain
Ohhh my aching hips…
Pregnancy is an exciting time of new experiences and anticipation. You spend your days feeling your baby move inside you, imagining a new addition to your family, planning for your birth, and reveling in your newly expanded body. However, with that expansion can come some discomforts, or sometimes downright pains.
I’m currently 30 weeks along in my 4th pregnancy, and with each one I learned some tips and tricks to staying comfortable, which enables me to enjoy pregnancy to the fullest!
There are many benefits to exercise during pregnancy. According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology’s (ACOG) Frequently Asked Questions, exercising for 30 minutes or more on most days of the week:
- Helps reduce backaches, constipation, bloating, and swelling
- May help prevent or treat gestational diabetes
- Increases your energy
- Improves your mood
- Improves your posture
- Promotes muscle tone, strength, and endurance
- Helps you sleep better
(The ACOG FAQ also talks about safety when exercising, getting your care provider’s input before beginning, and warning signs that you should stop exercising, so check it out.)
Whether you choose to take classes, use DVDs, or simply walk around your neighborhood, there are many options to keep you moving in pregnancy. Walking is perhaps the easiest way to exercise. Open the front door and stroll away! If you have access to a pool, swimming is also a wonderful pregnancy exercise, with the water providing a practically weightless place to move and tone your body.
DVD workouts tailored for pregnancy such as Lindsay Brin’s Complete Pregnancy Fitness Program, Erin O’Brien’s Prenatal Fitness Fix, and Summer Sanders’ Prenatal Workout combine both cardio and strength training for a full body workout. Because they were designed for pregnant women, they are challenging without being overly exerting and only use exercises that are safe during pregnancy. Some of them have separate workouts for the various trimesters, too.
Yoga is another wonderful way to exercise, and connect, during pregnancy. Whether you take a class or use a home program like Crunch: Yoga Mama or Blooma Prenatal Yoga (this video even has 5 birth videos at the end for extra inspiration), yoga is a wonderful way to stretch tight muscles, build strength and stamina, as well as take some time to reflect on your pregnancy, baby, and expanding family. Exercise for the mind AND body!
Regular chiropractic adjustments can also help maintain a comfortable pregnancy. Chiropractic care during pregnancy has many benefits including relieving back, neck, and joint pain, and helping keep the pelvis in balance. Finding a chiropractor certified in the Webster Technique for Pregnancy means that your chiropractor has received specialized training in adjusting pregnant women, which helps reduce stress on the uterine ligaments and can help the baby have room to wiggle into the best position for labor.
Prenatal massage can help alleviate such discomforts of pregnancy as headaches, backaches, leg cramps, and edema, improve circulation, and reduce stress. Plus it feels amazing!!
When getting a massage during pregnancy, it’s important to have a massage therapist who is trained in prenatal massage so that they know the best ways to position you, and certain pressure points to avoid. You should also talk with your care provider if you have certain conditions that may make massage during your pregnancy less safe.
Baths are a great way to feel better during pregnancy. Taking a warm bath (under 100°F) can help relieve stress, reduce swelling, soothe aching muscles, and help you sleep. If you have a bathtub with jets you can even get a little massage! If you are prone to urinary tract infections, avoid using any products in your bathwater, especially things that are colored or scented. Adding Epsom salts to your bath water (1 cup for a regular sized bath, 2 cups for a garden/Jacuzzi tub) can help with aches and swelling, and will also soften your skin.
What about cost?
I see the dollar signs starting to add up in your head. Your comfort and health are worth whatever you can afford! But even the frugal can take advantage of these techniques. Choosing free or less expensive activities (such as walking or borrowing a DVD from the library versus paying to take a class), or finding a nearby massage school for reduced-fee massages, are great ways to cut down on costs. Chiropractic care may also be covered under your health insurance policy – if not, many chiropractors are more than willing to work out a payment plan with a mom-to-be.
With a little bit of effort you can make the most out of your pregnancy. Be comfortable and healthy, enjoy new round belly, and let yourself bask in the wonder of creating a new life inside of you.
Christine Strain CD(DONA) – Christine is a mother of three (and one on the way!), childbirth educator, and doula.
Baby Steps offers natural and prepared childbirth classes, breastfeeding classes and support, and doula services in the metro Atlanta area. Current locations include Alpharetta, Douglasville, Dunwoody, Lawrenceville, Rome, Sandy Springs, and Decatur. If these locations are not convenient for you we also offer private, in-home classes on your schedule. Contact us for more information. firstname.lastname@example.org