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12
Feb
2013
5 Pregnancy Exercise Myths Debunked and The 3 Most Important Muscles to Workout During Pregnancy Exercises for a Smaller Tummy, Healthy Baby and Easier, Shorter, and Less Painful Childbirth
Author Fit For Birth
12 Feb 2013

5 Pregnancy Exercise Myths Debunked and The 3 Most Important Muscles to Workout During Pregnancy Exercises for a Smaller Tummy, Healthy Baby and Easier, Shorter, and Less Painful Childbirth

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Myth #1

Pregnancy is not the time to start something new or add to the current exercise program.

Truth #1

Starting an exercise program during pregnancy stimulates placental growth. Women who start exercise during pregnancy improve fitness and performance. They maintain positive attitudes about themselves, their pregnancies, and their upcoming labor and delivery. Regular exercise results in a more resilient baby who does better during the stress of labor and delivery. Where to take caution is not to increase intensity rapidly to the maximal level she can stand. Take it slow and steady.

Myth #2

Exercising in the first trimester can cause things like spontaneous abortion (miscarriage), defects in the developing baby, or abnormal development of the placenta to occur more frequently.

Truth #2

Continuing regular, vigorous exercise throughout early pregnancy does not increase the incidence of either miscarriage, birth defects or placental.

Myth #3

Exercise can rupture the membranes (break the water) or cause a woman to go into labor early.

Truth #3

Continuing and starting a regular exercise program does not increase a woman’s chances of either rupturing her membranes or going into labor ahead of schedule, even is she exercises more during pregnancy than she did before she got pregnant.

Myth #4

Pregnant women are too tired and uncomfortable to exercise late in pregnancy.

Truth #4

Those who maintain a high level of performance or steadily increase their performance as pregnancy progresses feel so good about their appearance and capability in mid-and late pregnancy they want to exceed their assigned exercise program. They want more!

Myth #5

You can’t be lean and toned and healthy during pregnancy.

Truth #5

Women who continue to exercise maintain a lean appearance throughout pregnancy. It does not mean, however, that these women are either underfed or malnourished. The average increases in weight (29 pounds) and skin fold thickness (10mm) in these women are well within the normal range for pregnancy.

All of these myths we debunked are supported by Dr. James F. Clapp’s research in his book: Exercising Through Your Pregnancy.

The 3 Most Important Muscles to Workout During Pregnancy Exercises for a Smaller Tummy, Healthy Baby and Easier, Shorter, and Less Painful Childbirth

Muscle #1

Diaphragm
Learning to use the diaphragm muscle to its fullest potential is probably the most significant change that a pregnant woman can make to encourage her own health, and the health of her unborn child. The diaphragm is the primary respiratory muscle (along with the external and internal intercostals which elevate the ribs). It attaches to the bottom of the lungs and acts to pull the lungs open by increasing the vertical space of the thoracic cavity. As it draws air deep inside, life-giving oxygen comes with it, placing the diaphragm highest in the hierarchy of importance to the body.

Proper movement of the diaphragm is critical to stimulate proper function in the entire musculoskeletal system, gastro-intestinal system, hormonal system and central nervous system. It is the foundation of every Fit for Birth Program.

The single most important tool that a pregnant woman has during labor and delivery is her breath. A strong diaphragm, trained to pull air deeply and slowly into the body, maintains focus, control and relaxation during labor and delivery. Indeed, it is the critical basis for nearly all childbirth courses.

Muscle # 2

The Transverse Abdominis (TVA) Muscle
Teaching the pregnant client to connect to her TVA as it moves inward and outward is critical. It affects the likelihood of her injury during exercise. It affects her likelihood of suffering diastasis recti. It affects the size of her belly, her sense of comfort or discomfort throughout pregnancy, and her self-consciousness about how “big” she is getting. It can be an invaluable way to get her to become present with her body, as well as to connect with her baby. Whether you call it core activation, diaphragmatic-TVA connection, core breathing, or Belly Pump, it ranks top of the list in Program Design.

Muscle #3

Pelvic Floor Musculature
The pelvic floor muscles are core muscles that form the bottom of the inner unit core “box.” They support the uterus, bladder, and bowels. These muscles act to stop the flow of urine or bowel movement. A strong pelvic floor can prevent incontinence (inability to control urinary or fecal leakage) and pelvic organ prolapse (when a pelvic organ such as the bladder drops form its normal spot in the lower belly and pushes against the walls of the vagina). Pelvic organ prolapse is most often linked to strain during childbirth, as the pelvic floor is stressed. Incontinence can rise during pregnancy as uterine growth pushes into the bladder or colon, and the pelvic floor is unable to resist. A strong pelvic floor prevents both prolapse and incontinence. These muscles are also involved in guiding the infant out of the birth canal; they are also the muscles that are cut during an episiotomy.

A functional pelvic floor works in concert with the Diaphragm and TVA to maintain intra-abdominal pressure throughout movements. Like the TVA, it should naturally engage as the client’s brain recognizes a need for stability. Contracting the pelvic floor muscles should generally cause the TVA to draw in.

 

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