Your first trimester is THE TIME to start thinking about BABY PREHAB!
In your first trimester you might feel completely normal, completely dreadful, or somewhere in between.
Managing fatigue and nausea (without letting on why) is not just tiresome but adds to your burdens during this most vulnerable trimester for your developing baby. You do really need to look after yourself – even if that means going to bed at 8.30pm after your third meal of cheese on toast of the day (because you can’t bear the thought of eating proper food and can’t even stay awake for In the Line of Duty).
THIS IS THE TIME to kick-start your musculoskeletal fitness before the hormone relaxin starts to soften your pelvis ligaments and before your centre of gravity begins to change and your growing baby reshapes your body and how it functions beyond all recognition.
So, what should you do for your Baby Prehab?
There are three outstanding problems experienced by expectant mums.
Pelvic girdle pain: this usually starts later on in pregnancy, but can occur in your second trimester which is now only weeks away. This risk can be reduced NOW by getting stronger in all the right areas.
Back, neck and shoulder pain: This can occur throughout pregnancy but is mitigated by exercising and stretching all your torso muscles and making sure your butt is nice and strong, getting you out of chairs, bed, and off the toilet (no chair arms there to push up from!)
RSI (repetitive strain injury): this develops in wrists and forearms as the unaccustomed repetitive action of lifting 8lbs of baby under the arms 40 times a day from day 1 puts a strain on your thumb and forearm muscles.
Most antenatal classes will help your fitness generally.
We really recommend antenatal Pilates in particular, designed as it is to rehab professional dancers – meaning its zero-impact, builds muscle and most importantly keeps you safe as your body changes. Most importantly, Pilates will start to strengthen your abs, butt and legs which are the all-star components of your ‘pelvic girdle’. Your back and shoulder muscles will get stronger and better conditioned and you can add arm exercises if you know you are weak and at risk of RSI.
Swimming in your first trimester
Swimming is an excellent exercise during pregnancy as it is both cardiovascular and builds muscle. However, we recommend you start this now – in your first trimester – to build up your inner thigh muscles which are so vulnerable to strain later on. A pregnant mum close to us rekindled her swimming practice but found her nipples were way too reactive to the cold water (and indeed any slight reduction in air temperature generally) and ended up crying with pain in the shower! Other pregnant mums find their sore breasts are much comfier in the water.
If you are already fit and strong, keep up the great work.
Pregnancy yoga is a great exercise to help with birth preparation as it teaches you breathing exercises, helps you identify parts of your body you didn’t know you had (or had been ignoring) and helps to balance your nervous system (ie switches to the relaxation and repair end of the nervous system, from arousal – targeting deadlines at work, getting the nursery decorated and wondering how to deal with your in-laws) with excellent benefits for your sleep, digestion, hormonal system and general sense of worry to list but a few.
If you have or are worried about any of the above conditions, our osteopaths and physiotherapists offer consultations to help identify your unique risk factors and guide you to the best forms of exercise for you.