Maintaining a healthy diet is important for the mother and baby before, during, and after pregnancy. If your diet historically has not been healthy, pregnancy is a great reason to change your old habits! During pregnancy, dietary intake needs to be adjusted to aid the changes your body will undergo. In addition to your carbohydrates, proteins, and fat, it is vital to consume specific vitamins and minerals. The United States Department of Agriculture (www.usda.gov) offers a resource for Food Plans specifically for pregnant women with a concentration on nutritional requirements during each stage of pregnancy. In addition, be sure to consult your physician with any dietary questions you may have.
It’s important to have a healthy body during pregnancy, and exercising during pregnancy can be beneficial! Exercise can increase your mood, develop muscles, make the transition back to exercise after child birth easier, and potentially decrease the aches and pain associated with pregnancy. Remember, one of the main points of exercising during pregnancy is to maintain endurance, not to reach new fitness goals. If you are exercising for the first time during your pregnancy, it’s important to progress slowly and listen to your body. Check with your physician on any questions you may have regarding exercise during pregnancy. After child birth, exercise will assist in shedding the pounds gained throughout the pregnancy.
For those women who are new to exercising, it is advised to begin slowly. Start with 5 minutes of low-impact activities, such as walking, biking or swimming, and increase by 5 minutes a week. Seasoned exercisers should be able to continue their activity level during pregnancy. All women should check with their healthcare professional prior to beginning or continuing an exercise routine while pregnant in order to avoid any complications.
Maintain adequate hydration levels, and drink water before, during and after exercising. Stretch before and after your workout. It is recommended to avoid any exercise activities where an injury to your abdomen could occur.
Discontinue Exercise Activities Immediately If…
You present with any of the following symptoms, discontinue your exercise activities immediately and seek evaluation by a physician.
• Headache or dizziness
• Faintness or loss of consciousness
• Shortness of breath
• Rapid or uneven heartbeat
• Chest pain
• Vaginal discharge or bleeding
• Decrease in movement of fetus
• Uterine contractions
What is happening to my changing body from an orthopedic standpoint?
Body shape changes are occurring rapidly during pregnancy:
- growth to breasts results in rounding of the shoulders and spinal curvature resulting in possible muscular pain, spasm and headaches
- belly growth results in spinal curve changes, increased pressure to low back muscles and joints, and changes your center of gravity or your best position for balance.
- as your pregnancy progresses, your body begins to prepare for delivery. As part of this process your ligaments (soft tissue that connects bone to bone) begin to loosen. This ligamentous loosening can cause some joint irritation, particularly in the joints of the pelvis.
During pregnancy, headaches may result due to hormonal changes, stress, tension, or poor neck and back posture.
Back pain and Sciatica
It has been shown that 50-70% of women will experience back pain during pregnancy. Due to weight gains, and physical changes, extra stress is placed on your back. Back pain that causes pain and numbness that radiates into the leg could be sciatica.
Hip and Pelvic Pain
Based on the position of the baby in the uterus, hip and pelvic pain can develop or increase. This happens particularly closer to the time of birth, the baby will settle deeper into the pelvis. In addition, pelvic joint looseness can be a source of pain in the pelvis.
As swelling of the tissue occurs, pressure is applied to the nerves causing numbness and tingling. This condition is most noticed in the wrist and could be diagnosed as carpal tunnel syndrome.
Urinary incontinence is described as uncontrollable urine loss or an overactive bladder. While pregnant, extra stress and pressure is applied to the bladder, and as a result urine could leak out. Even after pregnancy incontinence could remain.
ProEx Physical Therapy CAN help YOU!!!
Our goal at ProEx is to help you find relief from the previously mentioned “pains of pregnancy”! Whether you need assistance with stretching, strengthening or postural education, ProEx Physical Therapy can assist you with your women’s health issues. Please visit us at one of our 11 conveniently located clinics throughout New England in the regions of Northern NH/ME, Southern NH, Eastern MA, and CT/Western MA, or call 877-776-9843 for more information.