Probiotics in Pregnancy May Reduce Postpartum Depression

Other than your prenatal vitamin, you may try to avoid medications and supplements during pregnancy. But there is one supplement you might want to reconsider. Research on the benefits of probiotics during pregnancy is somewhat limited but there is growing evidence they may help you and your baby stay healthy. And the latest study concludes probiotics in pregnancy may reduce postpartum depression.

An Overview of Probiotics

Probiotics are healthy microorganisms including bacteria and yeast that are present in the intestinal tract. They are often known as healthy bacteria because they are associated with some terrific benefits for your entire body. Introducing more probiotics through fermented foods (such as miso soup, kefir and yogurt) or a probiotics supplement can increase the population of healthy flora in the gut. The two most common types of probiotics are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.

Probiotics in Pregnancy May Reduce Postpartum DepressionProbiotics in Pregnancy May Reduce Postpartum Depression

New research shows one of the benefits of probiotics during pregnancy for mothers may occur after childbirth. Postpartum depression and anxiety affects approximately one in nine women who give birth. But a study from the University of Auckland and the University of Otago showed taking probiotics in pregnancy may reduce postpartum depression and anxiety by 50%.

Different probiotics supplements contain different strains of healthy bacteria and in varying doses. This study proved promising results for the specific L. rhamnosus HN001 supplement. Different supplements may not yield the same results but the findings are a positive potential strategy for a serious condition many new moms face.

Probiotics Help Babies’ Microbiome

Probiotics are a healthy part of the body’s microbiome. That is, the community of microorganisms that live in the gut. Babies do not develop a microbiome prior to birth but they can start doing so at birth.

With the help of probiotics, healthy bacteria can accumulate in the vagina. Babies born via vaginal birth get their first dose of probiotics when they emerge into the world. Their microbiomes start in the healthiest possible way. Breastfeeding then continues to populate the gut with probiotics, especially if a mother continues to take probiotics supplements and eats a diet rich in probiotics. Plus, breastfeeding securely seals the intestines to prevent a “leaky gut” that can introduce harmful microbes into the microbiome.

Through recent research, experts discovered that even babies born via c-section can benefit from healthy bacteria in the vagina. In a procedure known as seeding, c-section babies can be colonized in their mother’s vaginal bacteria to reap some of its incredible advantages.

Probiotics Support a Healthy Immune System for Moms and Babies

In general, probiotics support a healthy body and especially a healthy immune system. Since immune health relies heavily on a healthy microbiome, keeping moms-to-be and their unborn babies healthy are among the benefits of probiotics during pregnancy.

Feeling weak and rundown, needing to take prescription medication or contracting infections that can spread to babies are certainly not ideal during pregnancy. A strong immune system helps moms and babies avoid these potentially harmful circumstances.

Sources: Mothering, Natural News, American Pregnancy and Mind, Body, Green

Five Habits to Continue from Pregnancy to Motherhood

Five Habits to Continue from Pregnancy to MotherhoodAs the life-source of your unborn child, your body becomes a sacred vessel during pregnancy. What you put in your body and on your body, your health habits and outside exposures are constant concerns as a mom-to-be because you want only the best care for your little one in the womb. Many of these recommended health practices during pregnancy are excellent to carry over into motherhood. Today we’re sharing five habits to continue from pregnancy to motherhood.

Eating a Healthy Diet

Clean, green and natural are usually among the top priorities in an expectant mom’s diet and it’s great for motherhood too. Your baby may no longer get wholesome nutrients delivered through the umbilical cord but she’s getting it from your breast milk. Plus, a mom who eats healthier and has more energy is going to better meet her baby’s needs. Foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, walnuts and flax are great, as well as green leafy vegetables, fruits chock full of antioxidants, lean proteins and whole grains.

Oh, and remember those small meals you were eating during pregnancy because they kept you from vomiting and reduced your acid reflux? That’s a good idea to continue now too to keep your blood sugar levels stable. Breastfeeding takes a lot of energy and requires extra calories so keep your nutritious meals coming throughout the day.

Taking Prenatal Vitamins

Along with a healthy diet you’ll want to continue taking your prenatal vitamins. They’re good for you, of course, but they are also stupendous for your baby who’s getting that folic acid, vitamin D, calcium and many other fantastic nutrients in your breast milk. Although your hair may lose the prenatal fullness you enjoyed during pregnancy (thanks a lot, hormones!), prenatal vitamins can keep your remaining strands lustrous and your nails strong.

Eliminating Vices

Among other things, smoking, spending hours in the sun, and drinking a few cocktails at a time were probably vices you eliminated during pregnancy. You may want to keep them at bay because they just aren’t good for your health. After breastfeeding, moderate consumption of alcohol may have its benefits but otherwise, leave the unhealthy vices to your past.

Exercising

If you followed your OBGYN’s advice and exercised during pregnancy, you probably reaped some terrific benefits like more energy, the release of feel-good hormones and keeping your weight in check. Guess what? All those benefits exist in motherhood too. And now you can incorporate your baby into exercise as well with mommy-and-me yoga, walks in the park and frequent dance parties.

Relaxing

The exhaustion you may have felt during pregnancy is probably only rivaled by the exhaustion you feel as a new mom. When you were expecting you probably made yourself rest and relax because it’s what your body really needed. Now, even with your little one around, you still need some down time. Sleeping as much as possible, seeking help with chores that others can do, and just chilling with your baby are productive ways to recuperate your energy after nine months of pregnancy and many more months with an infant.

When you’re not sure how to take care of yourself in motherhood, think back to the way you treated yourself during pregnancy and continue these healthy habits.

Sensitive Winter Skin During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Sensitive Winter Skin During Pregnancy and BreastfeedingNow that you’re pregnant or breastfeeding you may wonder what happened to the radiant, blemish-free skin you worked so hard to achieve after your teenage years. With all that talk about pregnancy and new-mom glows that didn’t seem to land on your doorstep, you may start dreading your sensitive winter skin during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Yes, hormones can do crazy things to your body, especially your skin in winter months. The combination of extra hormones and the dry air may lead to itchy, bumpy, red, splotchy skin.

Here are some tips for managing sensitive winter skin during pregnancy and breastfeeding:

Dry Skin

The biggest winter skin woe during pregnancy and breastfeeding is dryness. When the air lacks moisture, so does your skin. Head off the problem by using a natural moisturizer on your face and body at least twice daily.

Also, use a humidifier in your room at night and drink plenty of water throughout the day. When you need extra moisture and relaxation, enjoy a lukewarm bath with a pure natural oil or oatmeal. (Hot baths are not recommended during pregnancy. Besides, hot water strips the skin of moisture anyways!)

Sensitive Winter Skin During Pregnancy and BreastfeedingItchiness

During pregnancy be sure to coat your belly with a thick balm. When your skin stretches to accommodate your growing bump, it can be extra itchy, especially in winter months. Your breasts may itch more too due to dryness and the metamorphosis they are making to nourish your baby. When you are breastfeeding, use 100% pure lanolin to take care of itchy skin issues as well as cracked or sore nipples.

Blemishes

Some moms become extra oily in the winter months thanks to pregnancy and breastfeeding hormones. If that’s the case for you, be careful of products with contain chemicals that may not be safe for your baby. Most experts recommend avoiding Vitamin A derivatives such as retinol. Instead, try glycolic acid.

Discoloration

The mask of pregnancy is a common darkening of facial skin for expectant moms. While you may not be able to control some discoloration, do be careful of sun exposure. Even the weaker winter sun can make splotchiness during pregnancy worse.

While pregnant and breastfeeding, use a mineral-based sunscreen. Chemical-based sunscreens may enter your bloodstream and affect your baby. You can also use a tinted moisturizer to hide splotchy areas but never use a skin lightener.

Sources: Fit Pregnancy, The Bump and Parents

Blood Pressure during Pregnancy

Blood Pressure during PregnancyYour blood pressure will be checked at each of your prenatal check-ups and often while you’re in the hospital. That’s because your blood pressure during pregnancy is an important vital sign that gives your medical team clues about your health and that of your baby. A normal blood pressure during pregnancy, within a certain range, can help prevent some serious side-effects for both of you.

Abnormal and Normal Blood Pressure during Pregnancy

Normal blood pressure during pregnancy (and for non-pregnant women) is around 120/80 mm Hg. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, begins at 140/90 mm Hg. It is common for blood pressure to drop slightly during the early months of pregnancy because the rise in hormones can dilate blood vessels.

Types of High Blood Pressure during Pregnancy

Chronic hypertension is a pre-existing condition, meaning that a woman had high blood pressure prior to becoming pregnant. Women who develop high blood pressure during pregnancy have gestational hypertension and this usually subsides after childbirth.

Chronic hypertension with superimposed preeclampsia occurs when a woman has pre-existing high blood pressure that worsens during pregnancy and develops into preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is high blood pressure that develops after 20 weeks and is combined with other symptoms indicating organ systems are damaged including the kidneys, liver or brain. Signs of preeclampsia include: protein in urine, swelling of hands and feet and persistent headaches.

Causes of High Blood Pressure during Pregnancy

Hypertension is a growing health condition, including during pregnancy. Beyond women who have pre-existing conditions, high blood pressure during pregnancy may occur if a woman is overweight prior to pregnancy, is carrying multiples, has a family history of hypertension or is over the age of 40. Women in their first pregnancies are more likely to have high blood pressure than women in subsequent pregnancies.

Risks of High Blood Pressure during Pregnancy

High blood pressure isn’t always dangerous during pregnancy but should be monitored. Doctors may want women with high blood pressure to check their own levels daily and report back if blood pressure elevates.

Moms-to-be who experience hypertension are at increased risk of preterm birth and low birth weight, which can cause health and developmental problems for babies. Placental abruption – when the placenta detaches from the uterus – is possible with hypertension during pregnancy as well as a cesarean delivery.

How to Reduce Risk of High Blood Pressure during Pregnancy

Maintaining a healthy weight, eating a wholesome diet and not smoking or drinking are ways women can reduce risk of high blood pressure during pregnancy. Daily exercise and working with a nutritionist can be great steps to ensure normal blood pressure levels too. Also, developing coping techniques for stress can significantly reduce risk of pregnancy complications due to hypertension.

Sources: Mayo Clinic and Healthline

Pregnancy is a Gas

Many pregnant women find themselves in the embarrassing situation of being rather gassy. It is among the less-than-pleasant things that happen during pregnancy thanks to an increase in hormones. And sometimes you just have to laugh it off and say pregnancy is a gas.

Being pregnant and then giving birth makes women intimately aware of their bodies in ways they have never experienced before. In many cases, the process of having children strips away modesty and welcomes a host of seemingly horrifying things that come from your body. While you may not hear much about it from your veteran mom friends, most moms have gone through it in varying degrees and you should take comfort in knowing that it is all completely normal.

Understanding you’re not alone may not take away the embarrassment of passing gas in public, however. That’s when you have to put on your bravest new mom face and remember pregnancy is a gas. If you can laugh off pregnancy gas, you are on your way to being a great mom because there are so many times when you have to swallow your pride and let it go. In this case, we mean this quite literally!

Causes of Pregnancy GasPregnancy is a Gas

Like many of the miraculous and torturous aspects of pregnancy, hormones are to blame. During pregnancy your progesterone levels increase, which relaxes all of the muscles in your body including your intestinal muscles. This slows the digestive process by up to 30%. Delays in digestion cause the build-up of gas in the body, making you feel bloated and increasing burping and flatulence.

If that’s not bad enough, as your uterus grows throughout pregnancy, it puts pressure on your intestines and slows digestion even further. You guessed it, more gas!

Then, if you get constipated, a common side effect during pregnancy, gas can increase as well because food and waste are sitting in your body even longer than normal. Food choices and prenatal vitamins, especially those high in iron, can cause constipation.

Dealing with Pregnancy Gas

If pregnancy gas is really bothering you due to discomfort or embarrassment try these methods for curbing some of your gas:

  • Chew your food thoroughly to allow both your teeth and the enzymes in your saliva to help break it down before it gets to your stomach and intestines. This pre-digestive process can prevent gassiness.
  • Drink plenty of water to aid digestion and avoid constipation. Experts recommend 10 8-oz. servings per day during pregnancy.
  • Watch your diet and avoid foods that tend to make you gassy. Unfortunately, many healthy vegetables like broccoli, asparagus and spinach can contribute to gas. Weigh the options or consider the time of day you eat these foods before completely eliminating them from your diet.
  • Eat smaller meals throughout the day to allow your body time to process them fully.
  • Exercise helps circulate oxygenated blood to improve digestion and decrease constipation.
  • Try natural digestive aids like ginger and mint, which you can add to your food or drink in tea.
  • Eat more fiber to avoid constipation.
  • Don’t drink from a straw. Swallowing more air may lead to gas.
  • Avoid tight clothing on your abdomen because it might trap gas.
  • Ask your doctor if it is safe for you to use a stool softener or heartburn medication to reduce flatulence and burping.
  • Develop coping techniques for stress and anxiety like deep breaths. Swallowing too much air under pressure can contribute to gassiness.

Sources: Romper, American Pregnancy and Healthline

 

New 3-D MRI May Determine the Health of your Placenta

New 3-D MRI May Determine the Health of your PlacentaGetting a peek at your baby during ultrasounds or listening to her heartbeat on a monitor is a special glimpse into life in the womb. These procedures and other tests help doctors determine how your baby is fairing in her temporary headquarters. And there’s a ton of resources you can read about exactly how your baby is developing day-by-day. But when it comes to the health of your placenta, the essential organ that sustains your baby during pregnancy, there haven’t been any standard means of information. That is, until now.

The placenta is a temporary organ that your body creates to sustain your baby during the 40 some odd weeks of gestation. It pulls nutrients and oxygen from your increased blood supply to support your baby’s growth and development. It also takes away anything toxic your baby is emitting and supports your baby’s immune health while in utero.

A new 3-D MRI was developed by the neonatology division of Children’s National Health System that may help determine the health of your placenta. The new technology is able to measure the shape, volume and texture of your placenta to assist your doctors in finding abnormalities that may impact both you and your baby.

Although rare, placental disease is harmful to mothers and babies. It is often marked by slowed fetal growth known as fetal growth restriction (FGR). Prior to the new 3-D MRI for placentas, by the time the small size of the fetus was discovered, it may have been too late to intervene with a positive outcome.

Now, doctors can be better informed about the health of your placenta and the conditions your baby may be facing if your placenta is compromised. The MRI proved to be 86% accurate and was able to determine a fetus’ eventual birth weight “relatively well.”

Having more information about the health of your placenta may be a valuable resource that could protect you and your baby in the event of any complications. More research will be done using the new technology to fine-tune its accuracy and perhaps discover new findings about placental health.

Sources: The Bump and Children’s National Health System

 

Pregnancy Myths: Part 2

It’s hard to get through your 40 or so weeks of pregnancy without hearing pregnancy myths. While they are fun to consider, there is little truth to most of these tall tales and their widespread retelling can lead to some confusion for moms-to-be.

We’re debunking pregnancy myths to keep you on a path to health and truth during your pregnancy.

Pregnancy Myths: Part 2Pregnancy Myth #8: You Should Limit Your Physical Activity

Unless your physician indicates otherwise, exercise during pregnancy is highly recommended. Your body is going through a ton of changes and you can help your heart and blood circulation keep up with the challenge by working out. Plus, exercise is good for stress relief, helps stretch and loosen muscles and joints that are being used differently during pregnancy, and can prepare you for labor and delivery.

You may, however, need to adjust your workout routines to be more appropriate, especially as you progress through pregnancy. Any activity where you may be more likely to lose our balance or fall, such as biking, horseback riding or mountain hiking, is not a great choice at this time. Stick to walking, swimming, prenatal yoga and the likes to elevate your heart rate and stay safe during pregnancy.

Pregnancy Myth #9: You Can Predict Your Baby’s Gender With a Game

Have you heard the one where you dangle your wedding ring from a strand of your husband’s hair over your belly to determine your baby’s gender? You know, if it spins it’s a girl and if it swings it’s a boy. NOT TRUE! Like we said yesterday, your baby’s sex is determined at conception and there’s not a game in the world that can change that.

Pregnancy Myth #10: Don’t Eat Any Seafood

Actually, you SHOULD eat two or three weekly servings of fish rich in essential fatty acids during pregnancy as long as they are low in mercury. Great options include salmon, tilapia, canned tuna, shrimp and cod. Seafood that is high in mercury can be toxic to your baby’s developing nervous system so avoid seafood such as tilefish, swordfish, shark and mackerel. Also, never eat raw or undercooked seafood. That means it’s best to skip the sushi or sashimi for awhile.

Pregnancy Myth #11: You Should Not Fly

The radiation you experience from an airplane, x-ray machines and other aviation equipment is minimal. It would take many times the level acquired from flying to do any harm to your baby.

Many parents use the time before their baby arrives to take a vacation. Some airlines have restrictions on flying in the last month of pregnancy so you may need a doctor’s note if you plan to fly in your third trimester. Be sure to hydrate during flight and walk around to help maintain good blood circulation.

Pregnancy Myth #12: Morning Sickness is Only in the Morning and Ends After the 1st Trimester

Unfortunately some women experience morning sickness around the clock and throughout their entire pregnancy. Morning sickness is more likely in the morning since your body has been fasting overnight and nausea tends to peak when your body needs nourishment and blood sugar levels are lower. But this could happen at other points during the day as well and sometimes even eating doesn’t subdue morning sickness.

The majority of women experience less nausea and vomiting after the first trimester when pregnancy hormones change and your body gets used to being pregnant. Again, this isn’t the case for everyone and some moms are queasy throughout pregnancy. Ginger, lemon and mint can be helpful to reduce symptoms of morning sickness.

Pregnancy Myth #13: Avoid Sex

Sex is not off limits during pregnancy, ladies! In fact, some women feel heightened sexual pleasure during pregnancy, thanks to all that extra estrogen. Sex may help you relax and feel closer to your partner as you experience the ups and downs of becoming a new parent. Unless your doctor says otherwise, indulge and enjoy!

Pregnancy Myth #14: You Will Crave Your Favorite Foods

Pregnancy hormones change the way you experience food. Your favorite foods and foods you never liked before may taste different now. Therefore, you may not overdo it on chocolate even if that’s your favorite treat. And you may actually enjoy kale more during pregnancy than ever before. It’s a good reason to rediscover new, healthy foods.

Also, if you’re waiting for the urge for pickles and ice cream, it may never come. While that’s an infamous pregnancy combination, it isn’t a craving for all moms-to-be.

Sources: WebMD, The Bump, Tommys, CNN, Parenting and Babble

 

 

Pregnancy Myths: Part 1

Pregnancy Myths: Part 1When it comes to pregnancy and babies, everyone seems to have an opinion. Unfortunately, not all the unsolicited advice you get will be accurate, much less something you really want to heed anyways. Pregnancy myths are as common as morning sickness and swollen feet for moms-to-be. This week we’re debunking some of the major pregnancy myths so you can get to the bottom of what really matters in a healthy pregnancy.

Pregnancy Myth #1: You’re Eating for Two

You may feel a bit hungrier than usual but you actually don’t need much more food to sustain yourself and your growing baby. About 200 to 300 extra calories should do it. Many moms-to-be find it easier to graze on small meals throughout the day. This can curb pregnancy nausea and help keep your blood sugar levels stable.

As you progress throughout your pregnancy you may even find eating large meals difficult because your baby is compressing your stomach making it not able to hold very much at one time.

Overeating during pregnancy can lead to an excessive weight gain and a host of health problems for you and your baby during and after pregnancy. Physicians recommend a weight gain between 25-35 pounds for most women during pregnancy.

Pregnancy Myth #2: You Can’t Take Any Medications

There are plenty of OTC medications that are safe during pregnancy including certain pain relievers, antacids, cough medications and allergy decongestants. Check with your doctor to make sure you select something safe for you and your baby. You may be able to continue taking pre-existing prescription medications or may be prescribed a new baby-safe medication during pregnancy to relieve symptoms. If you were taking something that is not safe now that you’re pregnant, your doctor may be able to prescribe an alternative drug.

Also, pregnant women should get a flu shot for the protection of herself and her baby. The flu shot for expectant moms does not contain the live virus and is completely safe and recommended for moms-to-be.

Pregnancy Myth #3: Heartburn Means Your Baby Will Be Hairy

The old wives’ tale about heartburn and your baby’s likelihood for excessive hair is not exactly what it’s cracked up to be, although there may be some truth to it. Plenty of moms with heartburn give birth to bald babies, but sometimes the pregnancy hormones causing heartburn are the same that stimulate hair growth for babies. So, if your heartburn is indeed from your hormones and not the hot tamales you ate last night, your baby may be hairy…or he may not.

Pregnancy Myth #4: You Can’t Drink Coffee

Studies show that caffeine in moderation is completely acceptable during pregnancy. Previous research indicated caffeine may lead to preterm birth or low birth weight but this myth has been debunked. In fact, eating chocolate – a food with natural caffeine – is healthy during pregnancy.

Pregnancy Myth #5: Don’t Dye Your Hair

There is no evidence that the small amount of chemicals used to dye hair will affect your baby. It would take many times that level of toxins to do any harm to your baby and it certainly would have affected you long before your little one. If you need to touch up your roots or have a hankering for an entirely new hair color before your baby arrives, go for it.

Pregnancy Myth #6: You Should Always Feel Happy During Pregnancy

Sure, you’re excited, optimistic and eager to start a new life with your bundle of joy, but you may also be anxious, scared and stressed at the same time. Pregnancy hormones can leave you with a mixed range of emotions that are often confusing when you believe you’re supposed to just be thrilled about your baby all the time. Especially when pregnancy symptoms are at their worst, feeling happy isn’t always on your agenda.

Don’t feel guilty, these are normal feelings. Try to find a balance between everything you need to maintain in your life and supporting your physical and emotional needs at this critical time. Also, lean on your partner, friends and family to help you work through some of your feelings.

Pregnancy Myth #7: Carrying Low, Carrying Wide and Dark Nipples can Determine Your Baby’s Gender

All of these things may happen to you, but it isn’t an indication of the gender of your baby. Whether you find out your baby’s gender in advance of birth or not, your baby’s sex is determined at conception. Nothing that you do, say or believe is going to change that.

The way you carry your baby has much to do with your body type, your baby’s position in the womb, and your stomach muscles. If you have a shorter torso, your belly may protrude outward more because you have less “built-in” space for your baby. Stronger abdominal muscles tend to help moms-to-be hold babies higher. With each pregnancy your muscles may become more elastic and cause you to carry lower.

The darkening of your nipples is actually a wonderful way your body prepares for breastfeeding. It occurs due to hormones and some experts believe it is to help your baby, who has poor vision at birth, more easily find your nipples for breastfeeding.

If you’re shocked by these pregnancy myths, stick around for the second half of our series tomorrow!

Sources: WebMD, The Bump, Tommys, CNN, Parenting and Babble

 

Pregnancy Workouts for Couples

You’ve probably been told a time or two by your OBGYN and mom friends that working out during pregnancy is good for you and your baby. Yes, you may need to modify your pregnancy workouts and exclude some potentially dangerous activities for awhile (bye bye bikes, horseback riding and skiing), but exercise during pregnancy offers some amazing health benefits including stress relief, improved flexibility and strength to handle your growing body (which also helps during labor and delivery), and weight management. And you can reap these benefits with your partner in crime! Today we’re exploring pregnancy workouts for couples to keep both you and your hubs in good shape and ready to welcome your sweet new baby.

While you’re carrying the brunt of the body changes during pregnancy, your partner is an integral part of the experience. From helping prepare your home for your baby’s arrival, to supporting your physical and emotional health, dads-to-be are growing and changing in their own ways. Studies have even shown the hormonal shift that occurs in expectant dads during pregnancy resulting in “pregnancy symptoms” for fathers as well. And up to half of men gain weight during their partner’s pregnancy. What better way to combat the bulge than pregnancy workouts for couples?

Especially when you’re pregnant, having a partner around can make working out more enjoyable and safer too. Pregnancy takes a lot of adjustment so it’s hard to know how your body will respond to different exercises during each stage. With your husband around you’ll always have backup should you need a little assistance. Plus you can spend some quality bonding time together before the baby arrives, which may not happen often in just a few months. And of course you’ll both get the physical and mental benefits of working out, made even better by companionship.

Pregnancy Workouts for Couples

Pregnancy Workouts for CouplesWalking: Anything from a stroll to a power walk can make a great pregnancy workout for couples. Find your pace and get moving at least three times a week. Check out different parks and neighborhoods if you’re feeling adventurous, or stick to an indoor track if it makes you more comfortable. Be careful of treadmills and other gym equipment – the rebalance of body weight during pregnancy may have you feeling a little off-kilter. Also avoid rocky areas and steep mountain terrains where you would be more likely to fall.

Swimming: The weightlessness of water submersion can feel so good during pregnancy. You may not have the stamina for endless laps, but do what you can and then do some water calisthenics to round out your workout. The resistance of the water can be a powerful workout without the impact of regular aerobic exercise.

Partner Prenatal Yoga: When your schedules align, practice partner prenatal yoga. This mind-body workout will not only challenge your bodies, but also keep you connected and grounded during this exciting and anxious time in your lives. Partner prenatal yoga consists of pregnancy-safe moves where you and your partner support each other’s weight and help each other stretch. Plus, it incorporates wonderful breathing techniques that may help you during labor and delivery.

Weight Training: Weight training with light hand weights during pregnancy is a fantastic way to pump your heart rate and stay toned. It also allows you and partner to select appropriate weights for your fitness levels and your partner can be close by to ensure you are safe. Try simple arm strengthening moves to hit each upper body muscle group once or twice, and then use weights for resistance during squats, lunges or reclining leg-lifts. Take breaks as needed and unlike your pre-pregnancy workouts, there’s no need to engage your core!

Remember, follow the recommendations of your physician regarding exercise during pregnancy. Only workout to your fitness level and discontinue exercise that causes pain or unusual symptoms.

Also, gear up with a nursing sports bra that will take you from pregnancy through breastfeeding. The comfort and support is unbeatable and you’ll be ready to get back in the swing of exercise once your little one arrives.

Sources: Fit Pregnancy, Parent’s World and Baby Med

Let’s Get Real about your Pelvic Floor

Let’s Get Real about your Pelvic FloorIt’s probably not every day that you think about and talk about your pelvic floor but when you’re pregnant or if you’ve just had a baby, you should. Pelvic floor exercise, the most common of which is kegels, can help you during labor, delivery and beyond. We’re getting real about your pelvic floor and explaining all you need to know about kegels.

What is the pelvic floor?

The pelvic floor is the set of muscles, nerves, tissues and ligaments that support your bladder, rectum, vagina, and uterus. As you can imagine, these are all very important during pregnancy, particularly as your baby grows and puts more pressure on these areas.

How does a strong pelvic floor help during pregnancy, labor and delivery?

Your growing baby is doing her job by gaining in weight and length day-by-day inside the womb. However, this contributes to a lot of pressure on your pelvic floor. By exercising your pelvic floor, your muscles will be more suited to hold this extra weight comfortably. When it comes time for your baby’s big debut, your pelvic floor will stretch a great deal to allow for your baby’s safe passage. Women who have a strong pelvic floor generally have easier deliveries and perhaps even shorter periods of active labor.

How does a strong pelvic floor help postpartum?

After being stretched to the max during delivery, your pelvic floor will need some time to regain its shape. A strong pelvic floor will have an easier time “bouncing back” and can help reduce chances of side-effects like urine leaks or incontinence after childbirth. If these muscles remain relaxed, even sneezing, being startled or laughing can cause some leakage.

What are kegels?

Kegels are the exercise in which you contract and release your pelvic floor to build the muscles. The best way to learn how to do a kegel is to stop the flow of your urine while you’re going to the bathroom. The motion you used to freeze your urine stream is a kegel. Once you know how to do it, it’s pretty simple and can be done anywhere. No one will even know you’re doing it so feel fee to do it at your desk, in your car, in bed or while sitting at the dinner table. (But don’t continue to do it while urinating because it can lead to bladder problems.)

How often should you do kegels?

It’s best to work your way up to doing 3 sets of 20 kegels a day. Contract your pelvic floor for 5 seconds at a time and then release. You can make it fun by downloading an app with kegels music routines or involving your partner.

Exercising your pelvic floor may not be your most favorite activity during pregnancy and postpartum but it’s one that can surely pay off if you do it regularly.

Sources: What to Expect, Prevention Magazine and The Bump