Pilates in Pregnancy, it’s a must.

I’ve been lucky enough to teach antenatal pilates for 4 years now and in that time I must have worked with over 250 ladies. I’ve also used pilates myself through 3 pregnancies and it has helped keep me strong, shown me which parts of my body needed working on and enables me to keep working and being a hands on mum throughout. The comments we get from some of our ladies are:

“If I miss a class I really notice the difference”

“My hips and pelvis ache less and I can feel the difference Pilates is making”

“Classes help to keep me strong and relaxed during pregnancy”

“I always leave feeling better than when I arrived and with exercises to use in the week”

 

Pilates with Priya: Antenatal Pilates class

 

Antenatal Pilates offers multiple benefits including, developing your natural corset to support your back and baby, helping with the changes to your posture, pelvic floor education, breathing technique, toning the muscles and, thus, helping in weight management. Practising Pilates on a regular basis can improve posture, alleviate backaches, and, ultimately, help with labour and delivery. It can even help the baby rotate in the optimal position. I tend to have a format where I use a mixture of functional exercises that help in daily living, for example moves you will need to bend, lift, rotate, get to the floor, release stretches for the areas I know get tight as pregnancy progresses, core strengthening exercises and some move to help in labour and for baby positioning.

CAT

Lets look at some of the changes that happen in pregnancy:

1. Breathlessness:

There is around 15-20% increase in oxygen consumption during pregnancy. The breathing rate will stay the same, but an expecting mum will breathe more deeply each time. The changes in the blood vessels caused by the hormonal changes together with the changed position of the ribcage and diaphragm may make a mum-to-be feel breathless at times.

The breathing we use in Pilates helps make an expecting mum’s breathing more efficient. Focusing on breathing in an antenatal class also has a relaxing and calming effect which can then be used in labour.

2. Muscle, ligament, joint and postural adaptations: 

Hormonal changes during pregnancy have an effect on muscles, ligaments and joints. There can be more movement, stretching and instability. A safe pregnancy pilates class will help you exercise within a safe range of movement and strengthen the supporting muscles. It can really help with conditions such as SPD/pelvic girdle pain.

3. Core Strength:

Pilates exercises focus on core stability, and pelvic stability. This obviously helps keep the abdominals strengthened  but it also can help keep your pelvis in good alignment and reduce pelvic girdle pain.

4.Posture:

Pregnancy affects posture as the centre of gravity shifts. Some women adopt a posterior pelvic tilt (tucked under) with a flat lower back, whilst others adopt an anterior tilt (bum stuck out) with an increased curve in the lower back. Either way it is not helpful for the body. Knowing about neutral posture will help you correct this in day to day life and pilates will provide you will a range of exercises to strengthen the right muscles.

So if you are pregnant, antenatal Pilates with a specialist teacher is a MUST. If you can’t get to a class or want something to use in between sessions check out my specialst Bump to Birth DVD.

How to stay on top of cooking healthy meals

The craziness of 2 small children and teaching classes at times others would eat means I HAVE to be ultra-organised about our meals. It’s that or live off beans on toast, which wouldn’t be very considerate for my Pilates classes 😉

So if you also have a busy lifestyle, if you are cooking around young ones or if you are wanting to save a few pennies… read on for my top tips.

Pilates with Priya: Top Tips for Healthy Meals

My top tips:

  1. Meal Planning really does work. We have a whiteboard in our kitchen and I plan out our evening meals and some of our lunches too.
  2. Use your meal plan to shop and prepare in advance. When you have a quieter day chop up some veggies in advance for example, or boil a pile of eggs for lunches, make hummus or cook a meal to get ahead.
  3. Cook in bulk when you can. If you are doing a casserole, chilli, bolognaise, soup or freezable meal cook double and freeze it. This saves me on a regular basis on days things go wrong and I realise I’ve no time to cook!
  4. You don’t have to wait until dinner time to cook. I often end up cooking our evening meal in the morning, as that’s when I have a gap in my day. It can be quite satisfying knowing dinner is already cooked!
  5. Embrace the slow cooker love. The beauty of this is you can prep it the night before and keep it in the fridge, then switch it on in the morning and by evening you have a cooked meal, often with leftovers to freeze. See my slow cooker recipes here or my pinterest board with over 50 ideas.
  6. Have a day a week you use up the leftovers. Put them on a pizza, add to pasta, put veggies in a frittata or stir fry… it may not be a standard recipe but it can save you time, money and is inventive! See Love Food, Hate Waste for top tips and recipes.
  7. Have some emergency meals in your stores. Baked potatoes can be cooked in the microwave in 10 minutes, add tuna and sweetcorn with some chopped veggies and you have a meal. We always have a jar of pesto ready for that emergency pasta dish and frozen veggies.

What are your top tips or recipes?

For more recipes pop to Dietitian UK.

Nutrition in Pregnancy: What to Eat.

Diet in pregnancy is key. What you eat in that time will influence the growth and development of baby not only whilst it is in your womb but for the rest of it’s life. It is therefore a pretty big responsibilty to eat well isn’t it. Research shows us the risk of chronic diseases can be influenced this early on by the mum’s diet – we are talking type 2 diabetes, obesity and some inflammatory diseases, so it’s pretty important stuff. Your baby’s tastes can also be influenced by what you are eating, which makes sense seeing as they are getting their nutrition from you. Here are some top tips on how to ensure your diet is well balanced and keeps both mum and baby in tip top condition.

Nutrition in Pregnancy -What to Eat.

Eating for 2?
A myth, sadly! You actually don’t need to eat as much extra as you may think when pregnanct. Many people I meet use pregnancy as a chance to over indulge. It’s almost a green light for chocolate and biscuits. However the body actually adapts in pregnancy by either absorbing more from food or by decreasing the amount of nutrients lost. It’s a very clever system, which means you don’t need to be eating much more at all when pregnant. For example non-haem iron (from plant sources) is absorbed better and less iron is lost as menstruation does not occur in pregnancy. For some nutrients such as calcium the increased amount needed for the baby is met extra calcium being released from the mum’s bones.

You will need the equivalent of an extra slice of toast and a banana in the last trimester of pregnancy, but that is about all. The best thing is to eat according to appetite, sticking to healthy, nutritious foods. It is also good to not deprive yourself, so the odd treat is still allowed! I used to have a soft spot for Crunchie’s when pregnant 😉

Key nutrients to focus on are:
Folate – extra 400µg per day for first 12 weeks of pregnancy and during conception.
Vitamin D – 10µg per day throughout pregnancy
Vitamin C – extra 10µg/day in last trimester
Vitamin A – caution, 100µg/day only, some vitamin supplements will be unsuitable in pregnancy as they contain too much Vitamin A.

Iron – eat plenty of iron rich foods. Good sources are red meat, green leafy veggies, dried fruit, beans and pulses, nuts, seeds and fortified breakfast cereals. Try a lentil bolognaise with plenty of green veggies or make some hummus with chickpeas and tahini.

Calcium – include good sources of this 3-4 times a day (yoghurt, milk, ovaltine, ready brek, dried fruit, rice pudding, custard, sesame seeds, gree leafy vegetables, fish with small bones). Why not make a smoothie with fresh fruit and yoghurt.
Omega 3’s – eat 1 x 140g portion of oily fish per week – salmon, fresh tuna, haddock, trout, mackerel, pilchards, kippers and sardines. You could make a fish pate or try sardines in tomato sauce on a baked potato.

Plan to Eat:
At least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables per day
Starchy carbohydrates at each meal – focus on wholegrains
Iron rich foods each day
3-4 calcium foods a day (yoghurt, milk, cheese, rice pudding, custard, sesame seeds, green leafy veggies, ready brek)
Oily fish once a week
Lean protein daily

C sections, the how, what and why of exercise

C-sections can be planned or emergency. I knew very little about them when I gave birth the first time and actually avoided the antenatal class on the topic! However it is really best to have some knowledge in case you have one. Some women elect to have a section, and others go through the stages of labour and then deliver their baby via section.  Around 25% of all births in the UK were delivered by section (2008).

What is a c-section?

An incision made horizontally, just above your pubic hair line.  Contrary to belief, your abdominal muscles AREN’T actually cut with this incision, it’s the outer coating of the muscle, and the cling film type structure in between the 6-pack muscles that is.  The incision is made on the outside of your body horizontally, and then your surgeon gently peels your Linea Alba apart (vertically) to gain access.  The Linea Alba runs vertically down your stomach, and separates your six pack muscles in half, above and below your belly button.  The outside incision is then sutured back together, but the inside cling film/Linea Alba is not.

I know I’m having a c-section, so I don’t need to do pelvic floor exercises, right?

If you elect to have a section, there’s a misconception that your pelvic floor will be fine.  You might think that because your body won’t be going through the stages of labour, your pelvic floor won’t be affected.  However, pregnancy itself puts tremendous pressure on your pelvic floor, as the weight of your developing baby gets bigger and bigger, and therefore weakens these muscles.  So, it’s still very important that you strengthen your pelvic floor during and after pregnancy, even if you elected to have a section.

When can you return to exercise following a c-section?

You will need to have had your Doctor’s Check up before your return to exercise after a c-section, which, depending on your Doctor’s Practice/Surgery could be 8 weeks, 10 weeks or even 12 weeks, so give them a call to see what their guidelines are.  It’s major surgery and your body will need time to heal, so my top tip is to listen to your body and don’t rush back into exercise too early.

What is recovery like after a c-section?

After a c-section, your recover time is longer than a natural birth, you may have a loss of sensation, a numbness in your abdominals especially around the scar area, and the scar tissue itself may reduce your ability to do certain movements completely pain-free.  Your pelvic floor may take a little while to activate consciously too, but keep sending the signal from your brain to these muscles, and eventually, it will switch back on, I promise.

What exercise is safe after a c-section?

Postnatal-specific Pilates-based or core exercise is probably THE best form of exercise for any new mum to be doing, regardless of the type delivery.  Pelvic floor work and then TVA core work is essential to get everything firing again and to start toning that tummy too. It can take time for sensation and nerve impulses to start working again, but it will happen. Patience and perserverance are needed. Babies teach you a lot about both of those I find 😉

 

How to pick up your baby with perfect posture.

Having a new baby means you really don’t spend much time thinking about yourself. It’s all about looking after that new precious bundle of love. Whilst that is so, so important it can mean that things like your posture quickly slip and a few months down the line you end up with back, neck or shoulder issues. One of the key things that can go wrong is lifting baby from the floor. It’s something that mums do all the time so important to get right. Here I demonstrate 2 ways to safely pick up your baby, using my baby as an example.