Ongoing Projects

Ok, so I know I haven’t posted anything in some weeks now, but I have some very interesting projects going on! As I mentioned before I have now done the shoot with some great pregnancy exercises using the TRX Suspension Trainer, so that is undergoing some editing right now and you will soon get to see it!

I am also working on a presentation on pre and postnatal exercise for an Exercise Expo in San Fernando coming up in May. I am having some of the info translated, so soon there will be some guidelines and tips on exercise during pregnancy in Spanish posted here too! So excited!!

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Just some thoughts…

Wow…over 800 page views! I am amazed and so excited that you all are checking out my new blog. I can now truly understand my husband, whom I “made” a blog for some time ago. After many successful years choreographing and dancing, he decided to reschool himself to a chef (his other passion) ~ so now he is sharing his recipes on his “A Stay At Home Dad Blog“. He now gets over 100 views every time he post something new, and it is not until now I really understand the “thrill” of it!

I wish I could post something every day, but I have made the decision to make sure that I reference all my posts. This is to show you all that my posts are based on research result, and views and guidelines from the leading organizations and professionals within the Obstetric and Exercises community. That will also help all fitness professional who are reading my blog in case they want to know more about a particular subject. Sometimes I might post things with only a few references, but as I get my “research library” a little more organized, I will updated those posts and try to reference the studies right away. With two extremely energetic young boys running around, and a million other projects that I am trying to complete, there is a chance that it might take a few weeks….please be patient!

A few exciting posts that are ahead are a few videos giving you some great exercises for both pregnant and postnatal women ~ I am currently setting up the shoot so they are a few weeks away….I will soon also post about the benefits of exercise for both the mother and the baby, and how exercise may affect the delivery…stay tuned!

I also just “signed up” for a blog “competition” (thought it might be a good way to introduce my blog to some mommies out there) ~ and I will truly appreciate everyone helping me out by voting for me. All you need to do is to click HERE and then click on the votes “thumb up” button  to the right of the text about the blog and the vote count (you will see the number increase) ~ super simple!

Thank you all for your support!!

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Exercising while Breastfeeding Tips!

  • You want to nurse or pump before you exercise
  • You want to make sure to drink plenty of water (6-8 ounces every 15-20 minutes of exercise)
  • You want to make sure to support your breasts. A good sports bra should be supportive, have ample room and wide non-elastic straps. It is recommended to wear two sports bras for extra support if needed. Choosing a bra made of 100% cotton will lower the risk of irritation of breasts and nipples.
  • Eat a healthy snack after the exercise
  • A few studies has shown that lactic acid may accumulate in breast milk, which may cause some babies to reject it due to the sour taste. However, this is ONLY with high intensity anaerobic workouts, such as interval training. The lactid acid will also go away after about 30-60 minutes after the end of the exercise. Although most women will not exercise at intensities high enough to cause lactic acid accumulation, those women who are concerned about it may easily avoid the risk of having her baby reject her milk by nurse or pump before exercising, and by waiting a little while after exercise before nursing again!

References (see below) 2,6 & 7?

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Information on Diastasis Recti ~ A Separation of the Abdominal Muscles

One of my friends, whom is also in the fitness industry, recently approached me asking me for some advice on how she could help her client who suffered from Diastasis Recti. Since it is a common condition in pregnant women, I though it would make a good post on this blog. I will go over some basic anatomy, discuss why Diastasis Recti occurs and how you can assess the severity of the separation, how to prevent it, and give you some exercises and modifications that can be performed if the condition occurs. NOTE ~ if you believe, or are not sure, if you or your client have Diastasis Recti, you should consult your physician before continuing or starting a new exercise program.

The abdominals consist of several different muscle groups; Rectus abdominis (your “six pack”), External and Internal obliques and Transverse abdominis. While the Transverse abdominis muscles “wraps” around the front of the trunk horizontally from side to side, the Rectus abdominis and the Obliques are vertically separated along the midline of the abdomen by a fibrous connective tissue called Linea alba. During pregnancy a hormone called “Relaxin” is released causing bodily tissues such as ligaments to “loosen up”, allowing for necessary changes in pregnant women’s bodies due to the growing uterus. One of these changes is the shift of the abdominals as the uterus grows and starts putting pressure on the abdominal wall. The Rectus abdominis and the Oblique muscles are stretched out and shifts laterally (sideways) from the midline of the body as pregnancy progress. This may cause a separation of the Linea Alba which is called Diastasis Recti.

A slight separation is considered normal, and a commonly used technique to evaluate the severity of the separation is to place your fingers horizontally on your abdomen (belly) right above you umbilicus (belly button) while lying in a supine (on your back) position with bent knees and the feet flat on the floor.  If you are able to fit 3 or more fingers within the separation while performing a crunch, lifting the head, shoulders and shoulder blades off the floor, you should have it evaluated by your physician and make sure to modify your abdominal exercises until the gap is less than 3 fingers in width.

Although Diastasis recti can happen to any woman, studies has shown that the abdominal muscles and the Linea alba of women who exercise before and during the first trimester  of pregnancy seemed to handle the stress better then those of sedentary (non-active) women. Since strengthening exercises also strengthen other tissues (not just the muscle itself), tissues such as the Linea alba would be more equipped to resist and prevent a separation in women with adequate abdominal strength and endurance before and during pregnancy.

Since a pre and postnatal woman with more that 3 fingers separation should consult her physician before continuing or beginning abdominal exercises, she should check for abdominal separation on a regular basis during and after pregnancy, no matter how long it has been since the delivery. Diastasis Recti usually starts to appear in the second trimester, but is most common in the third trimester and directly after the delivery. In most women the separation will return on its own as the uterus shrinks, but it has been shown to return sooner in women that perform modified abdominal exercises. Since a separation may increase trunk instability, which may lead to conditions such as low back pain, it is important that Diastasis recti is addressed.

After a woman with Diastasis recti has been evaluated by her physician, it is essential that she has sufficient strength in her “deeper” core muscles (such as the Pelvic floor muscles and the Transverse abdominis) before she progresses to a more advanced abdominal exercise (such as a modified crunch) that requires more trunk stabilization. It is important that she is able to master the first exercise (#1) before she moves on to the next exercise (#2) and so on.

  1. Kegel Exercises (I will go through Kegel exercises more in detail in future post)
  2. Kegel with abdominal compression/hollowing*1 (see below)
  3. Maintaining Kegel with abdominal compression/hollowing while performing a Pelvic tilt
  4. Maintaining Kegel with abdominal compression/hollowing and Pelvic tilt while performing other abdominal exercises such as a modified/assisted Crunch*2 (see below)

(Reference 6)

*1  Abdominal compression/hollowing is an isometric (non moving) activation of the Transverse abdominis, by engaging the abdominal muscles by thinking “in and up”. A great cue for pregnant women is that they should imagine that they are hugging their baby with their abdominal muscles.

*2  Modified/Assisted Crunch is necessary for women with Diastasis Recti to stabilize the now much more unstable trunk (due to the separation), provide support for the Linea Alba and to bring the Rectus Abdominus closer together through its contraction. This can be done by crossing a towel or your arms and hands around the trunk as the crunch is performed.

The Sahrmann abdominal exercises (will include more info in a future post) has also been recommended to safely strengthen the abdominals when experiencing Diastasis Recti.

The exercises mentioned above (#1-3) can be performed in different positions such as; standing, sitting, hand and knee, sidelying,  and with the back diagonally on a stability ball. Make sure not to do any exercises in the supine (on your back) position after the first trimester since that can cause Supine Hypotensive Syndrome (compression of a major blood vessel which may decrease blood circulation).

It is also important to recognize that as pregnancy progress the growing uterus is causing more pressure on the abdominal wall and increasing the shift of the abdominal muscles which will make it more difficult to perform abdominal exercises. It might be necessary to “go back” and start over with exercise “#1″  and to modify the position in which the exercise is performed in, so that it will be executed correctly.

Other activities that may increase the separation due to increased abdominal pressure are;

  • Getting up from a lying position ~ > make sure to first roll to the side and then use your arms to push yourself up
  • Coughing & Sneezing ~ > create support by Abdominal hollowing and  crossing your arms and hands around your belly
  • Valsalva Maneuver (holding of your breath during an exercise or activity such as a bathroom visit when constipated) ~ > make sure to keep breathing and exhaling (breathing) out during the concentric (“pushing”/”hard”) phase of the exercise or activity

Please feel free to contact me if there is something else related to this topic that you would like me to expand on. This post may be updated, and new information along with pictures may be added.

(References 1,4,5,6,7)

Posted in After Pregnancy, After Pregnancy, During Pregnancy, During Pregnancy | 5 Comments

When can I start exercising if I have been inactive before finding out I am pregnant?

Before starting an exercise program you should see and consult your physician. Although the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology does not mention a preferred time when to start an exercise program, the Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology recommends women who has been sedentary (inactive) before pregnancy to begin exercising in the second trimester. While there are no studies finding negative outcomes when sedentary women start exercising in their first trimester, it might be easier for them to start a new exercise routine in the second trimester after all the first trimester symptoms (nausia, fatigue etc) has started to diminish. However, exercise has been shown to reduce many of these symptoms, so pregnant woman really need to consider her own situation. Many women may benefit from beginning an exercise program in their first trimester.

PERSONAL EXPERIENCE: Although I was active before both my pregnancies, my first trimester with my first son was fairly easy, and yes I was tried and slightly nausious but I was able to keep exercising and felt good doing it. With my second son however, I was very nausious and extremely tired during my first trimester. It was difficult for me to exercise since I felt even more nausious when exercising during that period. The point of this is that every woman needs to consider her own situation and try out what works best for her and her pregnancy.

References (see foter): 1 & 3

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Can I continue with my regular exercise routine when I find out I am pregnant?

Yes you can! As long as you consult and get approval from your physician, you can stay active and continue your regular exercise routines when finding out you are pregnant. This applies to both “regular” exercising women as well as for competitive athletes. You will however need to modify some of your exercises as pregnancy progress and if medically indicated. There are also a few activites that you should avoid while pregnant, they are the following:

Any activity or exercise when you are laying flat on your back (supine position) after the first trimester. Why? – Because the weight of the fetus might compress one of your major blood vessels and reduce blood flow to your body and to the fetus.

Any activities involving motionless standing. Why? – Because when you get pregnant your blood pressure is lowered, and when you are not moving it is harder for your body to pump the blood throughout your whole body, and it can pool in your legs and deprive your brain from blood, hence oxygen. If this were to happen, you would probably start to feel dizzy and eventually you would faint.

Any contact sports/activities (basketball, soccer, football, softball etc.). Why? – Since it may increase the risk of trauma to the woman and fetus, as well as increasing the risk of falling.

Any activities that increase the risk of falling (gymnastics, horseback riding, outdoor cycling, downhill skiing, vigorous racquets sports etc.)  Why? – Falling increases the risk of trauma to the woman and fetus.

Scuba diving. Why? – Because the fetus is at risk to suffer from decompression.

Activities at altitudes above 6000 ft. Why? – Because of the increased risk of the fetus to suffer form altitude sickness and reduced supply of oxygen.

References (see foter): 1 & 2

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Welcome To My Pre & Postnatal Exercise Blog!

Welcome to my new blog everyone! My “deadline day” is here, and I am ready and excited to get this blog started. As everyone with kids already know, it takes a lot of planning and focus to have time for family and career, and although exercise during and after pregnancy is my passion on both a personal and professional level, I too needed a deadline to commit to get this blog going. The same kind of commitment that you will need to keep your exercise routines or start a new one when pregnant, and to start back up again after your delivery when there are a million other things that you need to focus on, such as your new baby, the rest of your family and later going back to work.

I am looking forward to sharing my knowledge with all of you, and help you stay healthy and fit during one of the most life-changing events of your life. In addition to reaching out to all you “moms” and “moms to be”, this blog will also serve as a resource for fitness professionals out there that need to expand their knowledge when working with pre and postnatal clients. I am encouraging everyone to contact me about topics you would like me to address, so feel free to e-mail me requests at any time to mia@sweatfitness.net

I am excited to have already received many visitors to my page after only making one single post about it (before it’s launch), and I hope that you will keep coming back and spread the word about this blog!

Thank you for your support,

Mia B. Smith, B.S., CPT

www.SweatFitness.net

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