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Prenatal Fitness Facts & Fiction, Tips & Techniques Part One

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With so many celebrities bouncing back from pregnancy and fitting into itty bitty bikini's and form fitting evening gowns immediately it puts a lot of pressure on the average woman to get back her body after giving birth. Nationally certified Prenatal Yoga Instructor, Amy Griffith—star of her own "Active Prenatal Yoga" Workout DVD for expectant mothers share her advice on how to get expecting mothers heading in the right direction.

Below are 4 tips and truths to give direction, debunk myths, and provide overall peace-of-mind to foster a fit, healthy and happy 9 months*:

1. Start now. If a woman becomes pregnant and has not had a structured fitness routine beforehand, she can certainly start now—and should since exercise develops muscle tone, can help prevent gestational diabetes, aids in digestion and can help lower blood pressure. Just be sure to begin with some gentle forms of exercise. As the due date approaches, remaining active can also encourage the baby to move into proper position for birth. Even activity as simple as walking is hugely beneficial to a pregnant woman. She can even run, bike, dance and strength train as long as it still feels safe for her body. Whatever modality of exercise she decides to engage in, it is always of utmost importance that she listen to her body and recognize individual limitations.

2. Exercise to release endorphins. Exercise not only has countless physical benefits with keeping muscles toned, maintaining healthy body fat levels, and improving cardiovascular health among them, but it also releases endorphins that can help boost mood, improve self-esteem, reduce anxiety and depression, decrease stress, alleviate pain and improve sleep. All of these can greatly enhance the lifestyle of a pregnant woman, helping her enjoy the overall experience.

3. Yes, “do abs.” Pregnant women still have them and will benefit from strengthening them in advance of delivery. Exercising abs and the entire core group of muscles will help prevent back and posture problems caused by the growing stomach, will make pushing more effective pushing during labor, and will help the new mother recover quicker. For example, a pregnant mother in her second and third trimester will mainly be working her transverse abdominus, which wrap from front to back like a corset, and also the obliques. Keeping these muscles toned and active will help them to return to their pre-pregnancy state far sooner. Abdominal exercises during pregnancy can also reduce the risk of abdominal separation, which can lead to other physical ailments. Beforehand, be sure to research the safest types of abdominal exercise for the various trimesters and execute with proper form.

4. Try yoga: Yoga is not just about gaining strength and flexibility, and finding calm in moments of stress; it also helps slow down our busy lives. And, prenatal yoga is a very safe form of exercise. Executed with the use of props to support the pregnant woman as baby grows, the mother can maintain the standard yoga poses but in a modified way. Prenatal yoga also teaches the powerful connection of breath and movement, encouraging the woman to let go of tension trigger points in her body. All of these elements combine to cultivate a deeper understanding of how the woman’s body moves and what she can do to relax in an uncomfortable situation, both physically and mentally. Many of the elements of a prenatal yoga class can be utilized by the mother as she moves through labor and delivery, including poses to ease labor pains, breathing techniques, and meditation.

Check back tomorrow to see Amy's 4 other tips so that you can be an overall fit mommy to be!

*The above should not be construed as medical advice. Individuals should consult with their own physicians before starting any fitness or exercise regime.

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