Physical well-being isn’t all about what we do or don’t eat. It’s also based on movement and physical therapy. Although it’s important to slow down and be gentle with yourself during pregnancy, this doesn’t mean that you have an excuse to become a couch potato! You’ll feel it if you do. Aches and pains, constipation, tiredness, insomnia, excessive weight gain, heaviness etc – all of these are preventable or at least greatly reduced if you keep your bones moving!
There’s such a variety of exercise forms to choose from that you’re bound to find one you enjoy. The aim of each being to keep your body moving, keeping your lymph moving to remove waste, helping you to feel comparatively ‘light’ through to the end of your pregnancy and boosting circulation which becomes more difficult as you carry extra weight. Keeping it varied will increase your motivation.
I personally enjoyed brisk walks, long walks (in the evenings with my love to reconnect and share the day’s thoughts and events), cycling, pregnancy belly dancing and yoga right up until the end of my pregnancy. Except for a few days of very hot weather in the middle of summer towards the end of my pregnancy, I didn’t get a ‘heavy’ feeling, feel restricted in my body or experience water retention. Physical activity is also essential to help you feel prepared for labour. When you feel fit and healthy you’ll have more surplus and feel strong and more confident in your body’s inherent ability to birth.
As well as exercise, physical therapies are an important part of physical as well as emotional well-being. I highly recommend booking regular treatments throughout your pregnancy as an essential part of your birthing ‘toolbox’. These therapies not only help to create an enjoyable pregnancy with less (if any) uncomfortable symptoms, help to keep your nervous system relaxed and carve out time for yourself, but they also prepare your body for labour in a very significant way. For example, a study carried out by Dr. Gowri Motha and Dr. Jane McGrath, Forest Gate, London, England “The Effects of Reflexology on Labour Outcome,” showed that regular reflexology treatments throughout pregnancy reduces the average first time birth by 7+ hours!
From the very beginning of your pregnancy (and the preparation period before in fact) make sure that you book all your appointments ahead to make sure that they are scheduled in and prioritised. As an example, here’s what I scheduled in for my pregnancy (this is by no means the ‘one’ way to do it, I’m showing you an example – do whatever works for you).
* Massages every other week for the first 3-4 months (until I wasn’t able to lie comfortably on my belly anymore)
* Reflexology once a month (I had received regular treatments beforehand), then twice a month for the last 2 months of my pregnancy
* Cranio-sacral therapy once a month for the second half of my pregnancy
* Mini-massages at home by my love (rebozo is a great way to do this as you basically get a full body massage in about 10 minutes)
Massage helps to relax tired muscles and increase blood and lymph circulation. Reflexology, Acupuncture, Cranio-sacral therapy, Chiropractic all help to balance the body’s systems.
Which therapies and forms of exercise were part of your pregnancy tool-kit? Share your experiences with us in the comments below.
My next post in this series will give you natural tips on how to deal with common pregnancy symptoms