Those who know me from my clinic will know how passionate I am about getting our bodies aligned so that they can resist the strains and pressures of our active lives, keeping us feeling well and pain free. It is especially the case with women who have had children. I cannot count the number of women I see who have musculo-skeletal problems, pelvic floor dysfunction or pain that link back to how they hold their bodies. We dig a little deeper and they often trace right back to when they were pregnant. ‘Oh my body is just trashed since I had the baby’ is not an acceptable state. Either are Tena Lights for life – no ‘Oops’ moments please. Yes, your body goes through huge amounts of change during those 9 months but how many women have the time or inclination to get their real ‘pre baby’ body back? Focus is on weight loss, but focus needs to be wider than this. We need to get aligned again so we can stand tall and strong against gravity and all that life throws at us.
A tedious intro but I am currently 18 weeks pregnant and keen that I don’t end up with a lifetime of back pain, headaches, pelvic floor dysfunction, pelvic organ prolapse and injury. To that end I am going to chronicle the postural and muscular changes happening in my body during the coming months but the most important piece will be what I do afterwards. In the meantime I will document how I am tackling my physical health during the pregnancy with a view to making my return to form as speedy and simple as possible. So here we go, my first instalment:
The First Calling Card
It wasn’t a queasy tummy that first signalled me to the fact I might be pregnant but a funny old muscle strain while playing squash. I play a lot of squash and rarely get injured as I keep well stretched and have regular massage but on this particular day I lunged (not particularly hard or low) for a ball and felt a muscle go. A deep, deep muscle in my hip. ‘Hmmm strange’ I thought to myself and with that I lunged for another ball but on the backhand side and with that I felt the same muscle go but on the other side! These weren’t any major movers, I could walk but now have dull ache each side deep in my pelvis. Instantly my thoughts went to why my pelvis would feel so mobile and why I would have strained these muscles on such unassuming shots. My first thought was ‘maybe I am pregnant!’. A week later and two tests out of the way it was sure that I was!
So why would this happen? I am no expert but I know that the hormone Relaxin www.yourhormones.info/hormones/relaxin.aspx/ is released in pregnancy even from the early days. It starts to loosen the ligaments especially those around the pelvis to prepare you for pregnancy. Perhaps this was the cause of my seemingly loose pelvis?
With no symptoms of sickness or tiredness yet I was keen to keep my energy levels high and also to ensure my baby was getting all of the nutrients they needed. I generally eat really healthily so continued as before cutting out the usual suspects for pregnancy like raw fish, undercooked meat etc. I was gloating to my partner about how great I felt and I was putting it down to my daily ginger shot which I had been taking for months previous to this point. Ginger is often recommended for relieving the symptoms of morning sickness. He then asked ‘How much ginger are you taking?’. My reply ‘A good 4 inches of ginger root a day.’ His next thought, was ‘Isn’t that a bit extreme?’. A Google search later he was showing me how ginger is actually a really bad thing in high doses in early pregnancy.
This episode spooked me enough to really think about my diet. How do I really know what a nutritious diet is while I am pregnant? So I reached out to Mairi Taylor of Fab Fitness www.fab-fitness.com/ who I had been inspired by when I saw her present at the Womens Wellness Summit back in 2014. She immediately made me feel at ease about ‘Gingergate’ with her view that if you were doing it before then doing it during is not as bad as its made out to be online. But in saying that maybe cutting back on the ginger was a good idea. Together we discussed what I wanted to get out of nourishment while pregnant and we can up with a plan that will keep my energy up and keep my body nourished with all the nutrients it needs to heal well and grow a bouncing baby.
- 3 Good Hunger Busting Meals a Day (to help keep snacking at bay)
- 2lbs of Green Leafy Veg a Day (including eating some at breakfast!)
- Lean Meat and fish (well cooked)
- Eggs (well cooked)
- Starchy Carbs
- Garlic, Ginger (small amounts), Herbs, Etc.
- Processed Foods
- Dairy ( I don’t eat dairy…lactose intolerance)
The general advice given at this stage – The First Trimester, seems to be that ‘If you were doing it before, then keep doing it.’ The one thing to bear in mind though are high risk sports where you risk falling over, being hit in the stomach etc. To that end I have been ‘banned’ from a second snowboard holiday but am keeping up with my Tennis, Squash, Golf, Crossfit and Running. This is the area that I expect is going to change the most as I move into the second and third trimester so watch this space. In the interim the one thing I have added to my routine is an SIJ stabilisation exercise to help keep my pelvis stable during exercise. Before each session (no matter what the sport) I do the following exercise to stabilise the pelvis and in particular the Sacroiliac Joint (SIJ):
So far so good, I have managed to traverse the first trimester unscathed and I am very excited for the journey ahead. Check out my next instalment where I will look at how my exercise regime has to change now I am in the second trimester. I have reached out to the fountain of all knowledge on modern pregnancy and post natal exercise – Ms Jenny Burrell of Burrell Eduction www.burrelleducation.com and I am looking forward to you following the journey.