by Melissa Miller, RMT
Movement is vital to life and is a cornerstone to a happy and healthy pregnancy. Movement prevents joint stiffness, improves circulation and increases energy levels. Staying active also releases positive endorphins which helps with discomfort, especially towards the end of the third trimester. A focused exercise and stretching routine will help build an awareness and confidence in your body and its ability to adapt to the physical and emotional changes during this exciting time.
Aches and pains are normal as your baby grows and can vary from trimester to trimester. Taking even 15 minutes out of your day for some basic movements can make all the difference throughout pregnancy and into your labour experience. Here is a basic movement sequence that I have offered to plenty of pregnant clients that is safe for all trimesters and can be modified to your fitness level.
Prenatal yoga is a great tool to help connect body with breath as well as increase strength and flexibility. Adding some gentle cardio such as a 20-minute walk two to four times a week or swimming once a week will increase circulation and oxygen delivery to your baby. As you become more aware of the changes to your body through daily movement you may notice some areas hold more tension than others (common areas include the back, hips and shoulders due to weakened core muscles and increased weight in the front). This discomfort can increase with long periods of inactivity such as sitting at a desk. Occasional massage from an experienced and qualified massage therapist can help with relieving some of the discomfort and provide guidance on how to make your exercise routine more effective.
Relaxin is a hormone that is released during this time to help joints become more flexible, allowing the hips to widen and prepare for birth. While hip stretches can aid the hips in opening it is best to use your body’s awareness and stay at 70% of your capacity in any pose to prevent instability or over stretching.
To ensure a safe experience consult your doctor to make sure baby is in good health and you are aware of any blood pressure/blood sugar concerns or physical restrictions.
The birth process is like running a marathon for the body and mind. A balanced yoga routine will focus on stretching, strengthening and connecting mind, body and breath. The self-awareness gained from your practice will have long lasting benefits on your journey to Motherhood.
Melissa is a Registered Massage Therapist at Queen Street Yoga and recently completed her 200-hr YTT. She lives, works and plays in the the downtown Kitchener community and can usually been seen in the various coffee shops and bookstores in the core. She also loves snowboarding, spontaneous kitchen dance parties and sunshine.