Let’s talk about Pregnancy…
DURING PREGNANCY YOUR BODY IS GOING THROUGH EPIC TRANSFORMATIONAL CHANGES
Your body is strong. Your body is capable. Your body is amazing!
Huge congratulations if you are pregnant, it can be a journey in itself to get to this point for some and others not so much. We are all unique.
Pregnancy is often portrayed as this smooth, sailing journey where your hair gets thicker and you glow like a crystal ball.
Reality can often be a little or a lot, different.
Sweating from body parts you didn’t know you had, seeing your boobs balloon before your eyes, not being able to get your lower half dressed without sitting down and that’s before any medical tests, checks and a gazillion appointments you may have to attend. I could go on…
Pregnancy is a bumpy ride emotionally, sometimes physically and mentally your hormones really do wreak havoc with your memory so do expect to become forgetful.
What is happening to your body
how to exercise safely in pregnancy and what, where, when, how
How to feel, find and work your pelvic floor and the WHY it’s so important
What is happening to your abdominal muscles and diastasis (tummy separation) explained
UR CHOICE a calculator tool that identifies if you have any pelvic floor dysfunction indicators
What running looks like on your pelvic floor
Perineal massage information
Welcome to the journey that will change your life
Huge congratulations if you are pregnant. It can be a joyous wonderful time but equally a nerve-wracking, stressful ride. Whatever journey your pregnancy takes you on, it is unique to you and you alone.
While there are many similarities pregnant people go through, no two pregnancies are the same as we are all different with many different unique characteristics, medical health histories, support teams and other lifestyle factors to juggle, jobs, older children, family care, etc, etc.
My goal is that one day I will write a pregnancy app that shows the changes to the “mother” and what their body is going through. I religiously followed the pregnancy apps with mine that all told me how big my baby was and how s/he was growing that week and so on.
What I never knew, and there is still a huge gap in this area, is what was happening to me, to my body, to my brain and it CHANGED enormously during that time.
Enjoy the journey and if it all goes smoothly, wonderful, enjoy every second of it. If there are bumps in the road then I think that is the NORM for the majority of us and if it goes sadly wrong, know that I am deeply saddened and hold deep sympathy for you.
Our journeys are all DIFFERENT but we are all UNITED in process.
Be kind to yourself. Be gentle.
What is happening to your body during pregnancy
❤️ your heart works harder,
🧡 your fluid volumes INCREASE dramatically,
💛 your lungs get squished upwards as your uterus grows and you most likely will go up a bra size or several as your ribs gets physically wider,
💚 your gut slows down leading to constipation and strain on your pelvic floor,
💙 your kidneys get squished along with your bladder leading to frequency of peeing and sometimes leakage = more pelvic floor strain.
And then there’s the HORMONES!
I’m pregnant, is it safe to exercise?
The answer for the majority of us is a simple YES, absolutely. There are now volumes of evidence to support exercise in pregnancy.
Here’s a great visual from Tommy’s about staying active in pregnancy.
Yes it’s tiring, exhausting, nauseating and all the rest of the lovely things pregnancy can bring BUT it’s so important we keep moving.
You don’t have to hit the gym to have a good work out.
Go for a regular walk – use your core stability muscles to help you.
Work on your posture and your spine and ribs with thank you for that extra millimetre of space to allow you to breathe easier.
Head to the pool and offload aching sore joints by walking in the water or doing gentle movements at the edge of the pool – you don’t have to swim to benefit from exercising in the pool.
Keep moving, keep well and feel better.
Always discuss your medical health with your midwife/consultant if you have any concerns around your pregnancy as for the small minority of pregnant people, exercise is not advised in certain conditions.
Exercise in pregnancy: What, when, where and how??
This is as individual and unique to your exercise preferences and choices as an apple is to a pear!
Without wanting to give you more questions than answers, things to consider are:
Did you exercise before pregnancy?
Are you feeling well/not?
Can you talk and walk ok without severe breathlessness?
Do you have any pregnancy niggles, aches or discomfort?
What exercise do you enjoy?
The best things we can do depend on what we enjoy and what we need.
Running in Pregnancy
💕 Click on this image to see an incredible visual about running in pregnancy & the effect it has on your pelvic floor 🏃♀️
@mypelvicfloormuscles has an amazing visual video of this which I’ve included as a picture/video that speaks a thousand words.
Notice the bladder organ in yellow and the pelvic floor looks like a sling/hammock in brown. It sits underneath the bladder and the baby.
Even without running our pelvic floor muscles are taking excess load in pregnancy as they stretch and lengthen over 40 weeks give or take.
Like any muscles, we need to strengthen and relax them completely in pregnancy to help prevent leaking pee and pelvic organ descent (prolapse) but they also help reduce low back pain which is extremely common in pregnancy.
Head to my pelvic floor page for some HOW TO videos and get squeezing and relaxing your muscles today.
What is happening to our tummy muscles in pregnancy?
Our bodies are very clever when growing tiny new human(s) because the way it adapts to accommodate a growing foetus(es) is remarkeable.
It is completely normal for our tummy muscles to lengthen and stretch to allow room for baby(s) to grow.
This mean that our tummy muscles naturally ‘separate’ during our third trimesters and we all experience a degree of diastasis recti.
Please note diastasis is not disasterous for most of us. Our fascia and tummy muscles are designed to stretch in pregnancy and strengthen post birth.
It is important you know how to check your tummy muscles after wards and speak to a pelvic health physiotherapist if you have concerns.
Prevention of pelvic floor disorders is “UR Choice” in pregnancy
UR CHOICE is the pelvic floor disorder risk calculator: a must-know for mothers-to-be.
Have you heard of the UR-CHOICE pelvic floor disorder risk calculator?
A research paper written by Wilson et al in November 2014 highlights several major risk factors that when scored in their calculator can tell “mothers-to-be” or those who don’t identify as mothers, what their pelvic floor dysfunction could potentially be.
It is widely recognised that vaginal birth is a major cause of pelvic floor dysfunction for many.
Pelvic floor dysfunction refers to:
* urinary incontinence (peeing involuntarily),
* faecal incontinence (pooing involuntarily) and
* pelvic organ prolapse (bladder, bowel or uterus moves lower into the pelvis and sometimes feels like a heaviness or dragging down sensation) in this instance.
So, what are the major risk factors and why is this information essential for all “mothers-to-be” to know?
Have you heard of perineal massage?
Perineal massage is exactly that…massage to your perineum.
What/where is that?
Your perineum is the soft tissue found between your back passage and your vulva.
When should you start it?
It is advised from 34 weeks pregnant to start perineal massage (unless unsafe to do so) as there is evidence to show that it reduces the chance of perineal tearing and the need for an episiotomy. It greatly aids healing especially after your first vaginal birth.
What are the benefits of it?
Massaging your perineum in pregnancy can help:
- increase the elasticity of your perineum
- improve the ability to relax your perineal area
- give you more confidence in your ability to give birth.
Bottom exercises for pregnant and post baby people. Difficulty level: intermediate.
Pelvic floor talk for pregnancy
How to feel your pelvic floor muscles top tips
Related blog posts to pregnancy…
What is happening to your body during pregnancy? When you become pregnant, your body goes through phenomenal changes, so what is happening to your body during your pregnancy? Here's the lowdown simplified; ❤️ your heart works harder, 🧡 your fluid volumes INCREASE...
What should you expect when you go and see a pelvic health physiotherapist for the first time? This is a great question and one that many are not familiar with, including physiotherapists who do not specialise in this domain. A physiotherapist is widely known (often...
During pregnancy, the female body undergoes a transformational change due to the wonderful hormonal orchestra being played out. Pregnant and peeing for England! springs to mind. Many will notice subtle body changes like tender achy breasts, a heightened...
Find a physio and pelvic health fit pro in your area here.
Instagram accounts to follow:
@tommys | @kicks.count | @pandas_uk | @thepositivebirthmovement | @kickscount |@physiomumuk | @clarebournephysio |@_luluadams | @natalactive | @mixing.up.motherhood | @mamstefit | @urban_hatch | @tommys_pregnancyhub
The Positive Birth Book, Give Birth Like a Feminist by Milli Hill
Ina May’s Guide to childbirth by Ina May Gaskin
Mindful Hypnobirthing by Sophie Fletcher
POGP FREE pregnancy download leaflets:
www.sands.org.uk for bereaved parents supporting miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, stillbirth and neonatal baby loss.