Exercise for Pregnancy Health

Throughout the pregnancy year (pre-natal through post-partum) the woman’s body is in physiologic adaptation. Pregnancy is not an excuse to become sedentary, rather a time to “amp up” the exercise program. Exercise increases cardiac output, increases oxygen consumption, and changes the blood-flow distribution.

Doing a good exercise routine will not only assist the body in adapting to pregnancy, but assist in labor preparation. Your body’s muscular / skeletal structure changes in pregnancy. To have the ability, strength, and fortitude for birth a woman should do stretches, walking, squats, and other routines of exercise.

Doing these will also prevent many of the problems of pregnancy. Some of these would include:

• Calf cramping
• Tight back muscles with back fatigue and pain.
• Swelling of the ankles
• Pressure on the bladder
• Finger tingling or numbness
• Discomfort of the upper back due to breast size changes
• Spasms in the groin
• Itching due to stretched skin
• Tightening of the hip flexors (muscle group)
• Pressure and hyper-extended knees
• Sway or hollow back

There are some women who should not be doing exercise, especially rigorous exercise, during pregnancy. Also, each pregnancy should be assessed individually. Consult with your healthcare provider before you start an exercise program. If you had regularly exercised prior to pregnancy it would still be wise to talk to your healthcare provider.

For the childbirth education course, exercises that are included may differ greatly than a full-on prenatal exercise program (unless the instructor is certified in the latter. In a childbirth education coursework, the exercises emphasized are those that would prepare for delivery, reduction of third-quarter pregnancy discomforts, and enhanced post-partum recovery. These are not intended as the sole exercise done by a pregnant woman but as an addition to the physical activity already being done by the pregnant woman.

The first portion would address posture. Good posture is important not only for standing, but also sitting (whether in a car, or at the computer). After posture would be the Pelvic-rock, Squatting, and abdominal Strengthening; along with several stretching exercises for the legs, buttocks and arms.

Recommended recreational exercises would include:

Walking (varying the pace each time), running, cycling, and dancing (especially belly dancing).

Backache

The body undergoes physical changes in pregnancy in your balance, posture, and your mobility. Your center of gravity becomes thrown off due to abdominal protrusion in the front, enlargement of your breasts, and the anterior   (frontwards) rotation of the pelvis. In order to maintain stability, a pregnant woman tends to increase the strain on the back muscles and the vertebral column.

Another cause is the shortening of the hip flexor muscle group caused by the anterior rotation of the pelvis, as well as the increased size of the muscles of the abdomen. This is not helped when a pregnant woman leads a sedentary lifestyle.

Cross-legged Pregnant Woman

REASONS FOR BACKACHES

• Weight of the baby and the contents of the uterus
• Constipation
• Poor posture
• Standing for long lengths of time
• Urinary tract infections
• Over-working
• SCIATICA is a severe form of backache caused by the sciatic nerve being “pinched” or pressure placed on the nerve.
• The pain radiates to the legs
• Occurs due to growing baby and the womb that causes pressure on the nerve.
• The kidneys can also be affected, do the growing uterus causing pressure.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Good posture can assist sciatic nerve issues. When you improve the posture, not only will the backache be relieved but eating and breathing will improve. You find digestion is much easier as well.

Begin by keeping your head up, looking down throws your posture off. Keep your chin level. If you hold your head correctly your shoulders and back will automatically fall into place. Drop your shoulders to a position that is more natural, and avoid allowing the shoulder blades to be thrown back as it will cause a strain on your back.

Tuck your tailbone under to bring it into alignment. Pull inward the abdominal muscles and tucking the buttocks muscles…tilt your pelvis forward. This will act as a counter-balance to the tendency of arching the back.

• Wear flat comfortable shoes. Keep your knees relaxed, not locked
• Sit up straight in chairs and when you drive

Do stretching exercises, and / or exercise by walking briskly for 30 minutes a day, leg lifts and lunges, swimming, or Yoga. Avoid too many weight-bearing exercises . Doing exercise relieves muscle tension. It also Relieves emotional tension. Another thing you can do is to rock your hips, or make love passionately (no joke), the latter relieves pelvic congestion.

Relieve constipation:

• Constipation is directly connected to lower back pain and pelvic discomfort
• To keep from having constipation, drink more water and eat whole grains.
• Increase Calcium and magnesium (see: minerals hand-out).

Elevate your legs, preferably for 20 minutes a day (up on a chair or lying down with two pillows under them)

DIETARY RECOMMENDATIONS

Keep cold or raw foods to a minimum (these increase kidney strain). Eat grapes, pears, and apples as these are the least “watery” of the fruits and are less strain on the kidneys.

Minimalize fruit juices, and caffeine. (coffee, black tea, chocolate, cocoa, and soda). They act like adrenaline in the system due the chemicals they contain. Adrenaline aggravates the kidneys.

HERBAL RECOMMENDATIONS

If you are tired, feel overworked, or stressed you may be experiencing adrenal gland deficiency. The best herb to nourish the adrenals is nettle leaf, in a strong infusion (steeping for at least ½ hour). Nettle Leaf is one of the herbs found in your “Pregnancy Tea”.

Take St. John’s Wort and skullcap in a tincture form. About 20 to 30 drops in water or juice a couple of times a day. You can also apply the combination of Arnica and St. John’s Wort oils externally to relieve tension and promote the healing of the muscles of the back. It’s also helpful to use a warm water bottle on the area that has been treated with Arnica and / or St. John’s Wort.

Beginnings

Trust the Process

Hoksiyuhab Oti:

“The house for giving birth (having babies)”. It is my goal to develop a free-standing birthing center on the Rosebud Reservation. I also wish to have a converted bus to travel around to the various communities on the reservation and bring birth support to the individual women on the reservation.

Childbirth Education

This is a source site for information about infertility/fertility issues, preparation for pregnancy,  healthy pregnancies, a safe childbirth, and Post-Partum care, and breastfeeding. The Rosebud Tribal Education has its own services for educating woman on the reservation for Parenting Classes. These two are separate and yet linked groups of topics.

Here you will also find support for those who wish to assist women and teens in pregnancy, links to information about childbirth, and a portal for online short-course Childbirth Education, for those who cannot afford/have no insurance for a class or have no transportation.  There will also be a page of links for information online.

Childbirth is a normal process.

Long before doctors took charge, women were helping women to give birth.

These women were called midwives.