Tips from Julie Mohan, Certified Nurse Midwife at Ascension Providence Rochester Hospital.
Once a phrase more commonly used in the practice of yoga, “intentional” now describes a special way to define your pregnancy. Women’s bodies are simply amazing! Part of being intentional while pregnant involves tuning into these changes in your body, and it can help to occasionally stop, and take a slow, deep breath to acknowledge the wondrous work that your body is doing to support your beautiful baby.
Being intentional as you care for yourself in pregnancy is empowering, as you focus on eating well, taking prenatal vitamins, and exercising. Managing weight gain throughout pregnancy can be a challenge, but controlling what you can to stay within the recommended guidelines is important. Regular exercise is key to both optimal weight gain and decreasing the risk of potential complications including gestational diabetes, hypertension, and cesarean section. Exercise is also instrumental in decreasing depression and stress, and improving mood, and energy levels.
Exercise can also help ease lower back and hip pain, which is directly related to postural changes. Simple exercises such as sitting on a fitness ball and doing hip circles, forward bending over a counter to stretch the back, pelvic tucks either seated on a ball, standing, or on all fours all can provide relief. Strong abdominal muscles are important in reducing lower back pain. Belly breaths, either seated or standing, in which you focus on lifting up your baby within, can strengthen your abdominal core. Another great abdominal core builder is to perform a plank, with good form, and gradually increase the length of time the plank is held.
Continuing or adopting a regular exercise routine will typically decrease pregnancy related lower back and pelvic pain. If you were physically active before pregnancy continue your routine, but always confer with your midwife or physician. For others, this is an ideal time to slowly introduce regular exercise into your life. Simply taking a daily walk will lower your risk of pregnancy related lower back and pelvic pain. Yoga is especially helpful during pregnancy for the benefits of stretching, strength, and relaxation. Yoga focuses on breathing, which is good preparation for labor, and the practice of yoga helps many to reduce stress and prevent depression. Setting daily intentions to care for your body through exercise will produce results so that you feel your best physically, mentally, and emotionally during pregnancy, which will benefit both you and your baby!