Monday, November 11th, 2013
Getting motivated to workout can be tough when you’re pregnant and have morning sickness, hot flashes or swollen feet; feel exhausted; or are just so big you don’t feel comfortable sitting or standing, let alone exercising. Well, here’s a really good reason to get off the couch and start moving: Canadian researchers have found that just 20-minute workouts three times a week while pregnant, leads to excelled brain development in your baby.
Researchers from the University of Montreal had 10 pregnant women exercise enough to leave them slightly short of breath at least three times a week. Some women ran, others walked, cycled or swam. Meanwhile, a second group of moms-to-be were only moderately active for around 10 minutes a week. When the babies were born, researchers measured their brain activity, and it was found that the babies whose moms worked out more had more mature brain functions than those born to moms who didn’t exercise as much.
While it’s not clear why exercise helps the unborn child’s brain, according to the Daily Mail, “it may be because it increases the oxygen supply to the baby, or it may increase production of the brain-boosting protein called BDNF.”
As a mom-to-be, of course you want to do anything you can to ensure your baby is happy and healthy. So giving your child a leg up intellectually is a huge bonus. But don’t forget that exercising while pregnant is also great for you. Physical activity will get your body in shape to take on the strenuous workout that is childbirth! It helps with your ability to breathe during labor and gives you the strength to push when you’re body is telling you it’s completely tapped out. Research has also shown that working out while pregnant can help prevent Gestational Diabetes and C-Section births. Plus, the more fit you are before you have the baby, the easier it is for your body to bounce back post-pregnancy.
So as tempting as it is to let yourself go during pregnancy, and eat whatever you want, and not workout, both you and your baby will be better after just a few light workouts a week. Push yourself—it’s worth it!
Keep all your pregnancy details organized with our free pregnancy charts and checklists. Then, browse through stylish maternity wear here.
To find out which exercises can help you have an easier childbirth, read this.
Image of pregnant woman exercising courtesy of Shutterstock.
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Thursday, August 15th, 2013
I admit I’m not cool. I first heard about twerking through Miley Cyrus’ “Twerking Unicorn” video, which now has 4 million + views on YouTube, and at least 100 of those views are from me! There’s something oddly mesmerizing about it (Nicki Minaj, Beyoncé and Rihanna agree—they’ve been known to break out into a mean twerk themselves).
As with all fads, this dance craze exploded and suddenly, men, women and children were all uploading twerking videos on YouTube. Now, it seems pregnant women are getting into the act too! Check out the video below for proof!
While exercise during pregnancy is encouraged to help ease aches and pains, boost energy and prep the body for childbirth, twerk at your own risk. Please seek advice from your doctor before you try this at home!
Here’s the video I was talking about. Preggers and she can still move like that? Very impressive.
TELL US: Will you give twerking a try, or do you think it could be dangerous for the baby?
Image of dancer courtesy of Shutterstock.
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Friday, July 26th, 2013
With the joys of pregnancy also come the exhaustion, aches and pains. While it’s tempting to kick back on the couch and watch a whole Real Housewives marathon in one sitting, getting active is going to make you feel better, and it’s going to ensure a healthier pregnancy, and ultimately a healthier baby (which of course is the end goal!).
Pregnant yoga instructor, Extra Lifestyle Correspondent and wife to Alec Baldwin, Hilaria Baldwin, is due with her first child, a daughter, at the end of the summer. Here, she shares her tips for a healthy pregnancy.
How has your workout changed since becoming pregnant?
My cardio softened quite a bit. I still did some spinning and jogging at the beginning, but you have to be careful not to get your heart rate up too high because the baby can’t sweat. Later in my pregnancy, I started swimming more and I do yoga every day. As your belly gets bigger, you have to widen your stance in yoga. If you’re squatting down, you need to make more and more space so your growing belly has room to breathe.
Do you think yoga is something all pregnant women can benefit from?
Some women are on bed rest or have other health considerations, but if your doctor suggests you exercise, then yes, I believe that all pregnant women should do yoga. It’s incredible for hip, lower back and foot pain, restless leg syndrome, circulation, and just the whole body and mind in general. It can also help with the delivery. A strong core and flexibility can really help with labor.
Do you ever think some women focus too much on getting their body back even before they have the baby? What advice would you give women who are worried about their bodies not bouncing back?
My advice is don’t let your body run away from you when you’re pregnant—stay active. I know it’s frightening to not be so thin, especially being someone who’s been thin my entire life. But remember that you’re doing something that is beautiful. You are creating life. It’s your responsibility to take a step back from your vanity for those 40 weeks to do what’s right for your child. Many studies I’ve read have said that exercising (with your doctor’s approval) and not letting your body run away from you promotes the best possible pregnancy and the best health for your child.
Have you seen changes in your skin since you’ve become pregnant?
No, other than a blemish here and there. I think one of the reasons I haven’t really had any problems is because I started moisturizing my skin from day one. Once you become pregnant you think a lot more about your overall health and well-being— your skin included. Olay Ultra Moisture Body Wash has been an incredible addition to my beauty regimen because it is gentle and has shea butter so it keeps the moisturizers on your skin even after the cleansers rinse away. So I never feel dry.
Pregnancy has its perks, but it can also bring on some not-so-attractive side effects (acne, hair loss, indigestion, etc). How do you manage to feel confident and sexy while pregnant?
I work out every day. Not only does that give you endorphins and adrenaline that carries you throughout the entire day, but it also promotes circulation. In an expanding body, staying active keeps everything at bay. During pregnancy your body is supposed to grow and you should embrace that womanly figure. In the end, taking good care of your body makes you feel good as well.
You always look great. What’s your best maternity style secret?
A Pea in the Pod has great jeans. But it’s important to also understand that you don’t have to wear maternity clothes. Most of my clothes aren’t. Recently, I learned that you can wear a skirt as a dress just by adding a belt. It’s the best thing ever!
What’s been the most surprising thing about pregnancy?
Feeling the baby kick! You know from the start that the baby’s going to kick, but when you really feel it, it is such a wonderful and bizarre feeling at the same time. It just makes you cry because you’re so happy. The second most surprising thing is not being able to remember anything. I had no idea about pregnancy brain!
The most exciting?
Getting to know your baby. I haven’t met her on the outside yet, but I feel like I know her so well. I’m at the point now when I’m really getting to interact with her and if I talk, I feel her respond.
There are a lot of medical tests and waiting for test results can be scary, but yoga helps me through that [stress] a lot.
What’s been the most fun for you to buy for the baby?
The gear! We were really excited to get our strollers. We have two: the Bugaboo Chameleon, which I’m really excited about. But I definitely need a tutorial on how to use it—there are so many levers! We also have a Graco stroller and car seat combo. The other thing that I wanted, right from the beginning, was the Mamaroo. My friend had one and her baby was the most content baby ever! It has a car mode, a wave mode, there’s music that plays, and so I immediately went out and bought it, although my husband pointed out that I was only four months pregnant at the time!
What’s the sweetest thing your husband has done for you since you’ve been pregnant?
I had one really crazy pregnancy moment when I wasn’t feeling well and didn’t eat dinner. Around 1 AM, I popped out of bed and said that I needed to eat right then! I had never done that before and I was almost in tears. Alec ran downstairs, but we didn’t have that much food in the house, so he brought up melon and almonds. He just watched me while I inhaled all of it, then went back to sleep.
Have you dropped any hints about a push present?
I didn’t know about push presents until someone explained it to me. Ultimately, my present is the baby. But knowing Alec, he’s very generous and he always spoils me. He’s a total sweetheart, but I’m not really big into presents. She’s the real present, so we’ll put a bow on her!
TELL US: How are you staying fit during your pregnancy?
Image of Hilaria Baldwin courtesy of Olay.
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Thursday, July 18th, 2013
There’s no way to sugarcoat it: Pregnancy is exhausting! Insomnia becomes a nightly ritual as you’re tossing and turning and having to sleep on top of a pyramid of pillows to get the least bit comfortable. You’re carrying around an extra 20+ pounds (though skinny celebs like Miranda Kerr and Heidi Klum gained 40, Jessica Alba over 55, and Kate Hudson and Isla Fisher put on 70 pounds each!). You’re also more prone to hot flashes and nausea. So the last thing you want to do is workout when you’re already breaking a sweat just sitting down!
My doctor told me it was important to exercise while pregnant, especially in the last trimester to help keep my energy up and to prepare my body for what was to come. As she said, “The better shape you’re in now, the easier your body will bounce back after baby.”
But she also said that I didn’t have to do anything too hardcore—long, brisk walks, my usual subway stairs and prenatal yoga were her prescription rather than heavy weights or marathon runs. She just wanted to make sure I kept my heart rate up for 30 minutes three times a week. For the most part I did. But there were days when I was too pooped to move and my ankles and feet were swollen, making my shoes tight and uncomfortable, so as much as I tried to convince my body to get up for a walk, I wasn’t going anywhere!
As tired as you may be (and I’m sure you are!), new research might give you the inspiration you need to get up and get moving. Women who exercise during pregnancy are less likely to require a c-section, say scientists. A brisk walk three times a week halves the risk of having a heavy baby—one of the main causes of emergency cesareans.
Science Daily reports that in a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, researchers followed 510 sedentary expectant women. One group had 55 minutes of aerobic, strength and flexibility exercises three days a week during the last six months of pregnancy, while the others did not. Those who worked out reduced their chances of giving birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds by 58 percent, and the number of expected cesarean deliveries fell by 34 percent. This exercise routine can also combat gestational diabetes, which can lead to larger baby weights, and the need for a cesarean section.
So while I believe you need to listen to your body, and shouldn’t overdue it and push yourself too hard while pregnant, think about the exercise you’re doing now as preventative medicine. The workouts you’re putting in will keep your baby from getting too big, and stopping you from having a surgical procedure rather than a vaginal birth. And, exercises like yoga and pilates that build your core muscles and perfect breathing techniques, will make your pushes during labor easier, and will help you get back to your pre-baby shape faster. So the effort you put in now will come back in spades. Keep telling yourself that when all you want to do is sit on the couch!
TELL US: What are you doing to workout while pregnant?
Image of pregnant woman via Shutterstock.
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