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  • When should I taper off exercise?

    You’ve made it through to your third trimester and, with some help from FHIT-natal, you’ve been exercising consistently up until this point.

    As your bump continues to grow, your energy levels, mobility and comfort levels really begin to decline. The thought of sitting on the couch and waiting for your baby to arrive does feel like a much easier option.

    However, it’s best to continue to exercise through your third trimester, it gives you more energy, helps with all your aches and pains and will aid in your recovery after you give birth. Of course, you have to be sensible about it. Go at a nice slow pace and don’t overdo it.

    If you listen to your body, you’ll naturally taper off the amount of exercise you do as time goes on. What’s important is to keep moving. If not one of the Trimester three workouts, just a gentle walk around the block.

    It’s different for everyone, so you do need to check with your doctor, but it is suggested to maintain some form of exercise right through your pregnancy as much as possible.

    My pregnant belly was all out in front of me, so it really did make me feel quite unstable at times. It certainly wasn’t a good idea to walk too quickly down a steep hill!

    So, don’t necessarily set out to taper off from exercise but just adjust accordingly with how you and your body are feeling AND most importantly do it safely.

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    When should I Return to Exercise Postnatally?

    Throughout my pregnancy I’ve been seeing Madison Cutmore, a physiotherapist in Women’s Health. She’s given me so much advice during my pregnancy, but as I get closer to the end I’m starting to ask the question – when should I return to exercise when the baby’s here? Madison gave me some great advice on why it’s super important to see a Women’s Health Physio (WHP) who will ultimately help you back on your journey post-pregnancy.
    I asked her to explain the benefits and what exactly a WHP can do to help. Here’s what she had to say.
    “Women often feel pressure to ‘get back into it’ postnatally and push themselves too hard too quick. Whilst exercise is oh so important for new mums, both physically and mentally, doing too much too soon can have long term impacts on your body and your pelvic floor (up to 50% of women have some degree of pelvic organ prolapse ​APA​).
    In October 2019 the Australian Physiotherapy Association released a statement calling for ‘Women’s Health Physiotherapists to be included in the care teams for all pregnant women in Australia to reduce the risk of complications and to improve outcomes for women and their babies’​. Thus, we urge all women to consult a women’s health physio (WHP) in conjunction with their six-week GP check.
    A WHP will:

    • Assess abdominal separation. Diastisis Rectus Abdominis (DRAM) occurs during pregnancy when a woman’s Rectus Abdominis (big abdominal muscles) separate slightly to allow room for a growing baby. This separation is a completely normal part of pregnancy and childbirth but ongoing separation and associated weakness postpartum can make it difficult to create tension through the rectus abdominis. Your WHP will assess this separation and your functional capacity and then create a tailored exercise program for you.
    • Conduct a thorough pelvic floor exam to check the integrity of pelvic walls and organs, as well as the strength and endurance of pelvic floor muscles. From here they can generate a personalised pelvic floor training program to guide rehabilitation of the pelvic floor and monitor symptoms of incontinence and prolapse as you return to exercise. And yes, it actually works! Pelvic floor muscle training has been shown across many studies to cure stress urinary incontinence (SUI) in 50% of women and improve symptoms of leaking in 75% of women.

    So, when can you actually return to exercise? This is very specific to you, your body and your pregnancy journey. As a general rule, gentle exercise including walking and targeted pelvic floor/core work is prescribed in the first 6 weeks post-delivery. From there a WHP will tailor a specific program that will have you back to more impact and high intensity exercise by 12 weeks postnatal and beyond.”
    Madison has been a great guide for me during my pregnancy and I hope this blog helps you understand when you should return to exercise postnatally.
    If you’re reading this blog, you’ll be the first to know that I’m launching something new, FHIT-natal, a place for all mummas-to-be and new mums to stay active and live a healthy lifestyle. Just like this blog, FHIT-natal will have a range of pregnancy advice, workout videos and you’ll also get an insight into my pregnancy journey. Use the button below to sign up to our exclusive early access list!

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    How To Balance Life And Fitness

    As a new mum, I understand more than ever how challenging it can be to fit everything into your day, sometimes there just aren’t enough hours to get everything done.
    Trying to eat healthy, get enough sleep, maintain friendships, be a good mum/wife/friend/etc, do well at work, prioritise selfcare AND fit in regular exercise. Sounds impossible, right?
    Finding the right balance between life and fitness can be hard. More often than not, if we’re busy or stressed, exercise falls down the priority list or we tell ourselves we just don’t have enough time.
    If being active is important to you, but you just don’t know how to fit it in, here are my top tips for finding that healthy balance.

    1. Get organised

    You’re never going to get fit if you just keep telling yourself, “I’ll workout at some point tomorrow when I have time”, without actually putting in a proper plan. Take ten minutes to actually schedule out your day or week, making sure to prioritise when and where you’re going to exercise. Just like you’d schedule in a doctor’s appointment, a catch up with a friend or a hair appointment, scheduling in your workouts mean that they are non-negotiable. Then the night before, make sure to set aside your workout gear and pack your gym bag – you’ll be much more likely to follow through with your plan!

    1. Join FHIT

    Join my Postnatal or FHIT programs! Shameless plug aside, FHIT is specifically designed to work into your busy lifestyle. The workouts that can be done anywhere, anytime – no equipment needed! They are designed to help you get the most out of every minute and gradually build your strength and fitness level. Plus, there are plenty of rest days, so you won’t feel like you have to be working out every single day to feel accomplished!

    1. Write down your goals

    Where do you want to be in three, six- or twelve-month’s time? Having a goal to work towards will give you the motivation to prioritise being active and maintaining your fitness routine. And I don’t necessarily mean a weight goal either. I mean how many push ups do you want to be able to do, or how energised and healthy do you want to feel? Find your WHY and always remind yourself of that whenever you’re losing motivation or don’t feel like exercise is enough of a priority in your life.

    1. Find a friend

    Having an exercise buddy is so great for so many reasons! Firstly, it means you get to socialise and exercise at the same time, so that’s one less thing on your to-do list. Secondly, it helps keep you accountable. You can’t bail on your workout if there’s someone counting on you! Lastly, it will help you feel less alone. Life can be hectic and crazy, some days you just don’t feel like exercising. Having someone you can relate and listen, and be proud of you for doing it anyway, will make all the difference!

    1. Give yourself just five minutes

    If you’re stressed and busy, and just don’t have the motivation to workout, give yourself just five minutes to give it a go. You can even put on a timer! After those five minutes are over, ask yourself if you really, honestly want to quit. Most of the time, the answer will be no, and you’ll already feel those endorphins kicking in. If you do decide to stop, you can still be proud of yourself for taking that step in the first place – a small amount of exercise is ALWAYS better than no exercise at all!

    1. Remember… balance is key!

    Try to avoid having an “all or nothing” mentality when it comes to fitness. Pressure to give everything 110% of your energy all the time can be overwhelming, leaving you feeling deflated and losing all motivation to try at all. Instead, strive for a realistic balance and start small – even if that’s just one workout a week. You’ll feel proud of yourself for actually sticking to your goal and be able to build from there!
    Although it can sometimes feel like there are never enough hours in the day, if being active is important to you there’s always a way to make it work! Give yourself permission to trial different methods and of course correct where needed. Balancing life and fitness should always be about supporting your lifestyle and making it work for you – whatever that looks like!

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    How to Return to Running Postnatally Without Getting Injured

    I’m four weeks post-partum, and even though I am still waiting for the okay from my doctor to start exercising, I know a lot of my Instagram followers (and most likely you reading this) are looking for information that’ll help you return to exercise and help your body recover after giving birth.
    I asked my trusty Women’s Health Physio (WHP), Madison Cutmore for her guidance on how to return to common exercises, just like running or the FHIT program.
    Exercise has countless mental and physical benefits for new mums, however it’s important that the process of returning to exercise is guided, tailored and graduated.
    Running is often an accessible exercise option (just like the FHIT program!) for many women postnatally and due to the highly repetitive and demanding nature of the sport it’s even more important that a women’s health physio (WHP) guides the return to run process. This will help get you on track and keep you there!
    To get you back to exercise safely, a WHP will:

    • Graduate your return​. We often see postnatal women return to exercise too quickly once they’ve been given the ‘all clear’ by their GP. They often do too much too soon, however, the biggest key to injury prevention is load management. To graduate your return your WHP will not get you back to your prenatal level week one; instead they’ll start with short intervals with lots of rest time, and gradually decrease rest times as your capacity builds.
    • Prescribestability exercises​, which are essential in keeping you injury free! Pregnancy weight increases and shifts load in your body, alters your posture and changes the biomechanics at your back and pelvis. Lumbopelvic stability is especially important when returning to running as you require hip control with every single leg movement. Exercises to train this include banded squats and toe taps, core control and coordinating proper core/lumbar/glute motor patterning.
    • Prescribe ​resistance exercise​. Strength training has been proven to decrease injury and improve running economy and performance. Combined with your FHIT training, common strength fundamentals for runners include heavy deadlifts, squats and calf raises.

    We want to get you running and keep you running; by making sure you progressively increase your load and complement your training with stability work and strength training, you’ll run better, for longer and most importantly without getting injured.
    So there you have it. If you’re super eager to get back into exercise (just like I am!), it’s important to remember the risks and to take things slow. I’m so grateful I have Madison by my side to coach me through it.
    If you haven’t already seen, I’ve also just released FHIT-natal, a pregnancy workout guide. The post-natal workouts are still a work in progress until I’ve had the okay from my doctor to start exercising again, but stay tuned – they’ll be arriving soon enough!
     

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    What to expect in your Second Trimester

    The second trimester starts from week 14 and goes through to week 27 of your pregnancy.
    A lot of women find the second trimester more comfortable than the first with many saying it’s the most comfortable trimester of the three.
    Your morning sickness should have gone by now, so you’ll hopefully be able to stomach different foods and smells again. Your energy levels have increased and you should be starting to feel a bit more like your normal self, with an added baby bump which will be becoming more noticeable every week. Your breasts may be fuller, but they’ll be less tender as well.
    But your body is still changing, so you may experience heart burn and constipation and, because  the levels of pregnancy hormones are increasing, some women report nasal congestion, sensitive gums, leg cramps, swelling of the ankles and feet and some dizziness.
    Make sure you always communicate how you’re feeling with your doctor, They’ll be able to reassure you that what you’re feeling is totally normal, or do some extra tests to give you peace of mind.
    Somewhere during the 18 – 22-week mark you’ll schedule in for a level two ultrasound, which will measure the baby and check its developing organs and the amount of amniotic fluid. This is also the time where you can find out the gender.
    Simon couldn’t be at this appointment so we had the doctor put the gender in an envelope to keep it a surprise until we could find out together later.
    During this trimester, at around the 24-week mark, you’ll also do a glucose screening which checks for gestational diabetes. The liquid you have to drink is really sweet and you’ll find that your baby moves around a lot once you drink it, but it’s not too bad, it just takes a couple of hours. You have to fast before you do this and can only have sips of water, so I made sure I did it first thing in the morning, so I didn’t have to go for too long in the day without food.
    Enjoy the second trimester and the hiccups and kicks you’re starting to feel from your growing baby!

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    What to expect in your First Trimester

    There are a few things that can happen during your first trimester…

    Morning sickness – we’ve all heard about it, heard from pregnant friends or relatives about it, but until it’s happening to you, you don’t really know what to expect.

    Like pregnancy in general, morning sickness is different for everyone and the cause is still relatively unknown. No doubt the major hormonal changes that are going on inside your body have something to do with it though!

    If you do end up suffering from morning sickness, and over 70% of women do, make sure you check with your doctor as there are certain things you can do to help. Ultimately though, it is a case of just having to ride it out.

    But you can take comfort in knowing that as your pregnancy progresses, your morning sickness should pass. Although, just to confuse things even more, morning sickness can happen at any time of the day, not just in the morning. Who knew?!

    You can also expect to feel some exhaustion and some mood swings. Rest assured though, this is all normal so make naps your friend and maybe let your partner know that mood swings are now part of the deal.

    The early stages of pregnancy can feel a lot like PMS with tender breasts, cramps and did I mention mood swings?!

    Every pregnancy is different so listen to your body be gentle with yourself. Oh, and congratulations!

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    Can I exercise during pregnancy?

    Regularly exercising during pregnancy can really help prepare your body for childbirth, and help with your recovery after you have given birth too.

    What’s important is making sure you do a whole range of exercises that work all major muscle groups but with a strong emphasis on core and pelvic floor exercises. I know every pregnancy is different, so it goes without saying to talk to you doctor about what exercises are right for you and make sure you never workout to high levels of fatigue or exhaustion.

    The aim is to be consistent throughout you pregnancy, at a level that works for you and your ever-growing bump! Your body is constantly changing and so will the way you train and the level of intensity that you can train at. Remember any exercise is good exercise and somedays will be easier than others. Learn how to listen to your body and if you’re really not feeling up to it, take a rest day.

    It’s also really important to stay hydrated, so drink plenty of water. Don’t let your body temperature get too hot and stop at the first signs of discomfort or dizziness.

    My FHIT-natal program gives you a variety of cardio, resistance, core, mobility, upper and lower body workouts for your entire pregnancy journey. The workouts change with you. You can follow the program set out for you, or just choose your favourite workout at any time. Better still, you won’t need any equipment and you can do it from the comfort of your own home.

    There are SO many physical benefits when exercising during pregnancy not to mention the impact on your mental health as well!

    So, take it at your own pace and do what’s right for you and marvel at what your body is achieving and enjoy your pregnancy journey.

    **Make sure you consult a medical professional before starting any exercise during pregnancy.

    Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook or Instagram and share your journey with me.

     

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    Cravings… Why do we have them?

    No one really seems to know why women have food cravings during pregnancy.

    There’s an assumption that it’s the changes in hormones or that maybe it’s your body telling you it needs certain vitamins and minerals. Funny though, I’m not sure how many vitamins and minerals I got from a litre tub of ice cream, haha!

    Saying that though, I did find that I was craving salads and red meat at certain stages of my pregnancy. I then found out my iron levels were low, so my body must have been telling me something! Although that doesn’t explain the salt and vinegar chips or soda water that I couldn’t get enough of for two weeks!

    Cravings certainly do come and go though, because after those two weeks, I never even thought about salt and vinegar chips! (Until now that is, I’m going to have to see if Simon can go to the shops for me.)

    As well as cravings you might have also noticed the opposite with certain food i.e. food aversions. A food you were loving a week ago could all of a sudden make you want to be sick, just at the thought of it. Again, no one really knows why but with both cravings and aversions it’s best just to go with the flow.

    If you’re craving sugary or fatty foods, make sure you satisfy the craving but keep in mind your portions and try keep these sorts of foods to a minimum. Just make sure you’re stocked up with healthy alternatives in the cupboard, so you can balance things out a bit.

    Eat regular meals so you never get too hungry and it’s probably best not to do the shopping while you are overly hungry or having cravings. Otherwise who knows what will end up in your basket!

    Like all these things moderation is the key. Eat a healthy balanced diet and satisfy your cravings as best you can.

    I’d love to hear about all of your weird and wonderful cravings so please do share them with me on Instagram and Facebook and of course with your fellow FHIT-natal Mummas in the Facebook Community Group

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    Do caffeine and pregnancy mix well together?

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