Bump&Taryn - My Pregnancy Blog Weeks 14-18
Thank you all so much for the many congratulations messages I received after announcing my pregnancy in the last blog! And in particular to my MumTime class from Ardross, who gave me flowers, a
Yummy Mummy Day Spa voucher and a beautiful card when we went out for dinner after my final class last week. I feel very blessed to have worked with so many inspiring new Mums and I hope that as
I continue my own journey into motherhood I can remember all the pearls of wisdom you've all given me over the years...
At this stage I am actually loving pregnancy! I feel bad saying that to certain friends who have had a rough trot in their own pregnancies with sickness, pain, fatigue etc. But I haven't had any vomiting or nausea since 15 weeks, my energy has returned and I'm loving seeing how my body is changing. What a miracle it is that I can grow a life inside of me, and I think I've felt my first tiny movements in the last few days.
As I approached 16-18 weeks, I realised I had to start practicing what I preach as far as pregnancy recommendations go. I tell everyone to make sure that when they exercise in pregnancy, they have to be guided by the 'Talk Test' and not push through any exercise where they could not concurrently hold a conversation. So when I realised that I was becoming very breathless in the MumTime classes I was taking, and I couldn't get my bicycle back up the hill in Mount Pleasant without getting super out of breath, I realised that I could be compromising the blood flow to the placenta and the baby and I stopped these forms of exercise.
I am now getting into the (annoying) habit of rolling to my side to get up from a lying or reclined position, to prevent using my Rectus Abdominus (AKA Six Pack) muscle now that it has had to start stretching as the baby grows. I know how necessary this is to avoid strengthening the muscle in this separated position (I want it to go back to normal quickly afterwards!) and to avoid straining my lower back and pelvic joints while this muscle is at a mechanical disadvantage... but gosh it's hard work rolling in bed without sitting up when you've got sheets, a doona and your husbands arm draped over you!
I'm very lucky to be taking classes 5-6 times per week that include all the strengthening exercises I should be doing at this stage of my pregnancy, but there are definitely a few super important ones that I am starting to do more regularly. I have chosen my top 3 exercises for 14-18 weeks and described them below. For the full videos of me performing these exercises and progressions, check out our Instagram @fitrightphysio.
Exercise 1 - Sitting Ball Leg Lifts
I like this one because it incorporates pelvic floor, core stability, obliques and a thoracic spine stretch all in one.
1. The warm up, and easiest option, is to sit in neutral posture on the ball, engage your pelvic floor and lower abdominal muscles, lift and/or extend one leg without moving your body, place the leg back down with control, and relax the core again.
2. Progression 1 - With a theraband behind your back at bra-strap level, push one arm forward as you lift/extend the opposite leg
3. Progression 2 - As you push the arm forward, you also twist from the rib cage to look over the opposite shoulder. Note how the front arm is going directly forward. This might feel like a good stretch if you are tight in the thoracic spine and rib joints.
4. Progression 3 - As well as pushing the front arm to straight, also push the back arm to straight so that your hand is out directly behind you. Ensure that the back shoulder is still open, rather than tilted forward.
NB - throughout this exercise, keep trying to feel the elevation and relaxation of the pelvic floor and lower abdominal muscles each time, and remember that if you haven't already, it is SUPER important to have it individually assessed that you are activating these muscles correctly.
Exercise 2 - Ball Glutes
This is such a good 'overall' body exercise, working bum, thighs, lower tummy and arms. Strong glutes (bum muscles) are so important during pregnancy to maintain optimal posture and prevent back and pelvic pain, so I'm making this a focus area for myself!
Starting position - from sitting on the ball, with a theraband in your hands, tuck your bottom under and slowly walk your legs away until your head and shoulders are rested in the centre of the ball and your feet are under your knees. It's very important after 18 weeks of pregnancy to keep your pelvis slightly lower than your chest with all exercises to avoid 'supine hypotension', where the expanding abdominal contents are pushed up into the vital blood vessels near the heart and may decrease blood flow to you and the baby.
1. With hands on your hips (the theraband can be draped across you), drop your pelvis down towards the floor, and then tuck it up and back again. It should be your bottom and lower abdominal muscles doing this work. Repeat 10-20 reps, up to 3 sets at a time.
If you feel this in your back at all, drop your ribcage lower to avoid using your back muscles, and if it still hurts, lower yourself gently to the ground and cease the exercise.
2. Make this harder by using the theraband as resistance over your hip bones.
3. Add in arm work by holding pelvis in a neutral position between sets, and raise the theraband above your chest to do 10-20 openings.
NB don't try and sit back up on the ball to get out of this position, that will use your six pack muscle. Instead, put your arms down towards the floor and gently lower yourself down.
Exercise 3 - Hamstring & Rib Stretch
Nothing beats a good spinal stretch, and at the moment I feel like the second part of this exercise really gets into the area of my lower back where I am tight at the moment in response to my expanding abdomen.
Starting position - sitting on the ground with right leg extended and left knee bent so that the left foot is touching the right inner knee.
1. Put the theraband around the right foot and hold it taut in towards you. With your body remaining upright and facing the right foot, hinge forward from the hips for a stretch of the hamstring muscle (up the back of your thigh). Make sure you don't slouch, look upwards and outwards with an open chest.
2. For a spinal and rib stretch, grab both ends of the theraband in your right hand, and place the right elbow down on the inside of your right knee. Then reach the left arm up and over your body towards your right foot, aiming to look up towards the ceiling and keep the elbow straight.
Hold for 3 or 4 deep diaphragm breaths (into the base of the lungs, not the shoulders) and feel the stretch in the left rib cage and lower back. Exhale to gently return to the starting position.
Repeat 1-2 times on each side.
NB - also remember to regularly stretch out your glutes, calves and upper back/neck, these are the other common areas of tightness in pregnancy.