Last trimester exercise! The end is in sight…

At my prenatal exercise class the other night, my teacher told me that the exercise I had been doing in my barre class were actually quite dangerous! I have always loved Barre and anything ballet based, so thought that I’d be okay to continue throughout my pregnancy. I have read many places that if you did a certain exercise before you became pregnant, you’re safe to continue it throughout! Obviously I was so wrong. So no more hip opening pliés and leg raises. However, here are a few of my favourite exercises that I am okay to do in my final month.

Yoga based stretches

I’ve really slowed down my yoga practice as is it has become a lot less dynamic.I do a couple of incredibly modified Sun Salutations to warm up, some side stretches, following with some yoga poses (including the ones mentioned here) and then I end with some pelvic floor work and some light twists.

I am generally unable to go straight into Downward Dog without first putting my knees on the mat. I still find it great for stretching out my calves which have become so tight with the extra weight.

FullSizeRender 5As you can see, it is a very short Downward Dog as I am really trying to get into the lower calf muscle, the soleus, as I feel that it is so tight it’s causing crazy heel pain! A complete self-diagnosis, but it really seems to help me. Also, I can see from this photo that my arms are not straight-I think it was because I was about to come down as there was a huge amount of uncomfortable moving around going on in my uterus!

 

Another favourite is the wide-legged squat, which I am also hoping to use during labour. I’ve always loved this pose anyway as my inner thighs get such a great stretch.

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A few other stretches I have been doing include a mini back stretch on my knees (also stretches my hip flexors as I do a lot of sitting at work) and a quadricep stretch, which again also stretches out the front of the hip.

I also use my green theraband (about £2 from eBay or Amazon), the green being of a high resistance, but you can find many different types online. I use this to perform a number of pilates based exercises to strengthen my back, chest and arms. I also use them to add resistance to my lunges.

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Using the theraband to perform arm raises-it’s a shoulder burner!

And of course I have to mention my block that I love to sit on when doing seated stretches else my big tummy gets in the way of forward folds! The block offers me extra height and helps the baby tip forward into the pelvis, especially now as he is head down, a good position for birth. I also find my strap (as seen in the photo below) great for stretching out my lower back.

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Sitting on my block and using the strap to create a slight twist and alleviate lower back pain.

Finally, if a bit random, a tip given to me by my Pilates instructor: use a rolling pin under your feet to create flexibility and improve tone. I have always had what I call ‘straight’ feet (not flat but not high arches either) and am trying to improve the arch. I roll the soles of my feet across the top of the rolling pin for 5 minutes for each foot every day. It really hurt at first (apparently that’s just the tight muscle fibres breaking down!) but now it feels like a really great massage.

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It is safer to do this on a mat so that you don’t slip! After doing this exercise for a month, I am able to point my toes without cramping and am getting less pain in the soles of my feet when I walk to work. Who knew a rolling pin could be incorporated so easily into an exercise regime? At least it’s getting some use seeing as I rarely use it for baking….

 

 

 

With only four weeks to go until my due date, it was actually a relief to be told that I needed to take it easier exercise-wise as I wanted to cut down anyway, but felt that it would be a lazy thing to do! I can’t wait to get back to my dynamic vinyasa flow self-practice, but am happy to slow down for the safety of myself and the baby.

Fitness during pregnancy

Before I became pregnant or even planned on become pregnant, I had always envisaged that I would eventually be one of those ‘fit’ pregnant people like those we see in magazines, who manage to stay toned and glowy throughout their pregnancy. At the minute, due to the exercise I am currently doing, I look like this…

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Going back seven months when I did become pregnant, these thoughts of having to stay fit were still there, but for the first five months I felt so nauseous and tired-it was as if I had a permanent hangover. I was also being told by every yoga and dance class instructor that I couldn’t join their classes until after three months of pregnancy; even now, I haven’t met one that will happily have me in their class at 7 months pregnant. These factors prevented me from exercising as much as I used to. I would occasionally go for a jog and did a modified yoga practice at home, but my jog turned into walking due to cramping, and I decided a prenatal yoga dvd may be safer. I did try a few prenatal yoga classes at Triyoga in Camden and Frame in Islington, but these were too slow and I felt were a waste of money and time for me. I also went to a trial class at Maternally Fit in Islington, but I found this class boring and beginner level, and the instructor uninspiring.

From my sixth month, I started to feel better and so have got into a stead fitness regime, as outlined below.

Prenatal Yoga

The DVD I am using at the moment is by Katy Appleton. A work colleague attended her teacher training so I thought I would give this one a go. There are three different levels one can choose; I follow the ‘Shine’ section as it is the most dynamic. It is not a vinyasa flow style but it does make feel like that it helps me maintain some of my strength and flexibility. There is also a section on hypnobirthing which is more like a savasana-although I wouldn’t recommend this as an alternative to a hypnobirthing workshop, it is very relaxing. I have always been quite particular about the voice that a yoga teacher uses, and have to admit that I find Katy’s voice a little irritating, especially when she elongates certain syllables (“sunnnnnn salutation”), or uses certain phrases like “…show your luminous gratitude for the gift of your baby”. I am no earth mother so cannot relate to such phrases, and have never seen being pregnant as a miracle. However, the DVD is good enough for me to ignore these minor points!

Swimming

I used to swim so much when I was at school and swam for my county, but then gave it up due to becoming bored (story of my life!). I had heard from so many people that swimming is one of the safest forms one can do when pregnant, so my husband and I have been going swimming once a week to Pancras Square Leisure Centre.

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I do 20 lengths of 25 metres each length which takes roughly about 20 minutes. When I first went, I overdid things by doing front crawl, constantly running out of breath but pushing myself anyway, and ending up with crazy cramping in my tummy. Now I just to breaststroke with rests when I feel like it. The weightless feeling in the water is amazing! I honestly don’t feel pregnant and heavy when in the water; when I get out the pool I can really feel the difference of how cumbersome my body feels without the water to support me. This is my favourite exercise at the minute.

Equipment Pilates

I have been seeing Kamil, a one-to-one pilates instructor at Triyoga Camden for about a month now. I wanted to work safely on my core strength, and as I know that pregnant women should avoid sit-ups and too much abdominal work, I wanted to see a professional about this. I took advantage of the Pilates Starter Pack for £190 which includes an initial assessment and three private sessions, saving £70 altogether. Sessions involve work on a reformer and other equipment and light weights to tone and strengthen my legs and arms whilst maintaining a strong core throughout the exercises. I have been continuing to do these every other day using my husband’s theraband instead of hand weights. Once my starter pack has run out, private sessions will cost £65, semi-private £40, and a small group £33. I really can’t afford the price of private sessions, so will look into group sessions either at Triyoga or elsewhere.

Walking!

Not the most fun thing to do in the world, but it’s pretty easy to fit into my day. I walk for half an hour twice a day to and from work instead of getting the bus up a stupidly big hill. I do get incredibly breathless, but I feel like I’m getting a good cardio workout! I try and walk everywhere now.

So, compared to my old pre-pregnancy routine of dancing, yoga and running, I have cut down dramatically, and I have to keep reminding myself that this is for the safety of the baby, and is only temporary! My husband and I do still like to dance around to 80s songs at home, so it’s not all ‘serious’ exercise!