We live in a time were there is an abundance of information: social media, podcasts, google – but when it comes to health advice for pregnancy, this abundance of information quickly becomes overwhelming. Your friends and family might be quick to share what worked for them and you might quickly start to feel confused by the contrasting opinions from different sources!
The first thing to understand is that a lot of information is out-dated and that there has been a HUGE amount of change around recommendations for pregnant women over the past two generations. The second thing to understand is that what is best for one women may not be what’s best for another. As they say “one mans medicine is another mans poison” and so the best advice will always be individually tailored advice.
Across my work as a Women’s Health Physio, Prenatal Pilates & Yoga Instructor I’ve learnt so much about pregnancy and supporting women’s physical, mental and emotional health! These are my top tips for maintaining a healthy pregnancy.
Disclaimer: This content is intended as general information only and should not substituted for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
1. Show up consistently
Consistency is key when it comes to optimal health and that can be difficult during pregnancy if you’re constantly navigating symptoms of nausea, fatigue and pain! My biggest piece of advice is to find short periods 10-30 min and commit to doing something everyday at home. Even if it’s just laying over a bolster and intentionally focusing on your breath! Find a qualified instructor who has a library of online videos and is able to modify your program if you develop pelvic girdle pain or pubic symphysis dysfunction!
Then it’s about staying motivated – having an instructor or friend can help to hold you accountable but the most crucial part is getting really clear on your intention or your why! Get really clear on the benefits of supporting yourself in pregnancy: the benefits of exercise, meditation/breath-work and pelvic floor strengthening!
2. Form daily routines/rituals that you enjoy – keep it simple & get support!
It can feel unachievable and overwhelming when we think about all of the things we are “supposed” to be doing in pregnancy to prepare for this next chapter!
My biggest suggestions to keep it simple and get support! Pregnancy & motherhood is not the time to fiercely seek independance and try to do it alone – this leads to burn out and overwhelm – it’s true when they say it takes a village to raise a child and a village to raise a mother!
So find daily rituals that you enjoy such as journalling, meditation or affirmation cards and start to create a morning or evening routine around them. Take the pressure of yourself and do them because you enjoy them and know how good you feel when you do!
3. Move your body
Moving your body regularly in pregnancy has so many benefits for both mum and bub. It can lead to improved outcomes in labour and smoother recovery after birth!
4. Learn to breath
Did you know that your breathing pattern can affect your pelvic floor, your digestion and your stress levels!?
When the breath is shallow and predominately into your upper chest it sends a signal to your brain to reinforce a stress response activating the sympathetic nervous system and increasing blood pressure and cortisol. This is a primal strategy that we have developed to help us survive if we were say, being chased by a sabertooth tiger, however, not so good if we are just responding to stressful emails at work!
When we are using relaxed diaphragmatic (belly) breathing it puts our nervous system in a relaxed state and tells the brain that we safe! It promotes a healthy balance in the pelvic floor. This pump-like action of our diaphragm also plays an important roll in gut motility and digestion, which can help prevent constipation during pregnancy!
Breathing techniques are also one of the most effective natural pain relief strategies to use during labour!