Pre and Post Natal Body Image Pressures & How to Enjoy A Happy Healthy Pregnancy

Pre and Post Natal Health and Fitness was not a recognized field until the 1990’s. Now there are many credible organizations that offer specialized training for expecting Moms. Women everywhere are benefitting from exercise before, during, and after their pregnancies. However, we must remember that inspiration and pressure are two very different ends of the spectrum, and feeling great is much more important than fitting into a particular size.

In today’s world of celebrity, it has become the norm to have a petite pregnancy and lose the weight about 5 minutes after you give birth. It is a wonderful idea for Moms to maintain their fitness during pregnancy, and this absolutely contributes to quicker weight loss and recovery. It is not realistic to think that everyone is going to fit into their skinny jeans when they go home from the hospital, with their beautiful bundle of joy. There is a balance between staying fit, and succumbing to outside pressure of what you ‘should’ look like.

Thankfully, most of us are not followed around by paparazzi, and the pressure and scrutiny is not as intense as if we were in the public eye. There are times that we can be our harshest critics, and for that reason I would like to share my list of 5 ways to enjoy a happy, healthy pregnancy;

  1. Exercise regularly based on how you feel; If you are feeling great and like you can ‘push’ a little bit, then maybe you increase the intensity of your workout with an extra set of squats (great for pelvic floor strength), or walk an extra mile. If you are nauseous or tired, let yourself off the hook and enjoy moderate exercise. I love gentle, prenatal Yoga practices for those days when a little extra TLC is required.
  2. Drink plenty of water; The placenta needs about ½ cup of water per hour. This means that increasing water intake during pregnancy helps to hydrate Mama and take care of baby too. I like alkaline water for all phases of life, including pregnancy.
  3. Maintain Work/Life balance;  Many women work until the very last day before labor and delivery. If your life requires that you work up until the very end, remember to take a few minutes in meditation each day and send your love to your baby. Stress hormones can flood our systems when we are overworked, so taking a few minutes each day to send your love can be a wonderful way to bond.
  4. Breathe;  Reframe the whole ‘eating for 2’ idea to ‘breathing for 2.’ Your baby needs oxygen to thrive. Your body is able to work more efficiently, and induce a relaxation response when you breathe deeply. In our stressful world, an easy and free way to reduce the fight or flight response (stressed out, increased cortisol levels), is to simply take a moment to focus on your breath. I like to imagine inhaling peace, and exhaling stress.
  5. Joy;  We are all individuals and have unique sources of joy. For some of us it is a special place in nature, for others it is time with family. Actively carve out time in your schedule for things that bring you joy. The baby inside of you can feel what you feel. Why not share your joy? Your body floods with endorphins and there is a chemical response that your baby benefits from.  If you are having a challenging pregnancy for any reason, seek outside sources of support and ask your friends and family to remind you of what brings you joy. They are often just waiting for an opportunity to ‘love you up,’ with compliments and hugs.

For information on post-natal health and wellness, you can also check out my friend Abbi’s husband, Mark MacDonald’s amazing new book.

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