10 Oct 8 Pregnancy Myths Uncovered
1. NOW THAT YOU’RE PREGNANT, YOU NEED TO EAT FOR TWO
False. The notion that expectant moms need to double up on their daily food intake is completely incorrect, as you do not need to meet the caloric needs of another fully-grown person. All that needs to be consumed is a daily intake of 300 extra calories, which amounts to an additional balanced meal daily. It can be detrimental to the health of mom and baby if mom eats too much, as this can contribute to excessive weight gain and even obesity during pregnancy.
2. NOW THAT YOU’RE PREGNANT, IT IS IMPORTANT TO START EXERCISING RIGOROUSLY
False. You cannot begin a rigorous exercise program if you have never done one before, as your body is not accustomed to doing this type of exercise. However, pregnancy is the ideal time to get moving. Nowhere in the medical literature does it say that moderate exercise such as walking is unsafe, even for previously sedentary women.
3. NOW THAT YOU’RE PREGNANT, YOU NEED TO STOP EXERCISING
False. Exercising during pregnancy is extremely beneficial to both mom and baby, it is just important to note that training needs to continue at the same pace (maintenance level) as to what your training routine consisted of prior to pregnancy and no harder.
Benefits of exercising when pregnant:
• Increases the size of the placenta and therefore the transport of blood flow of oxygen and nutrients to your baby
• Increases the use of fat as an energy source at rest and while exercising
• Reduces insulin resistance and risk of gestational diabetes
• You will get back to your pre-pregnancy weight and fitness levels quicker
• Energy levels and self image throughout pregnancy will be elevated and risks of postpartum depression will therefore be reduced
• Improved circulation and therefore less swelling will be experienced, as well as reduced levels of water retention through sweating
• Helps maintain/create good posture, preventing lower back pain
• Weight gain throughout pregnancy will be more controlled, as less fat will be deposited
• Prepares you for labor if you are planning for natural delivery and decreases recovery time postpartum from either natural or cesarean deliveries
4. FROM THE SECOND TRIMESTER, YOU SHOULD NOT DO ANY EXERCISES LYING FLAT ON YOUR BACK
True. From the beginning of the second trimester, when you lie on your back, the weight of the pregnant uterus slows the return of blood flow to your heart by putting pressure on the vena cava, which reduces blood flow to the fetus. This means the baby is getting less oxygen and fewer nutrients. Furthermore, exercise requires the muscles to utilise more oxygen and nutrients, which has a compound effect when exercising on your back while pregnant.
5. IF YOU DO ANY ABDOMINAL EXERCISES DURING PREGNANCY YOU WILL GET DIASTASIS RECTI
False. Abdominal exercises are not only safe during pregnancy, they recommended, all you need to do is shift focus to the types of abdominal exercises you do. You are not aiming to build a six-pack during pregnancy, but strengthen your core, specifically your deep core. During pregnancy your core weakens due stretching and hormonal changes that prepare a woman’s body for the birthing process. It is therefore extremely important to focus on strengthening your core with specific attention to pelvic floor and transverse abdominal exercises, both of which comprise your deep core. Diastasis Recti occurs when the ‘six-pack muscles’ begin to pull apart from the midline of the body, most notably around, above, and below your belly button for a width of 2 fingers. Therefore training your Rectus abdominals should not be your main focus.
6. TRAINING DURING PREGNANCY PUTS YOUR JOINTS AT RISK
True. As your body prepares for labor, a hormone called relaxin is released throughout the body, causing connective tissue to relax. As a result, the joints and ligaments between the bones in your pelvis will begin to loosen to allow the baby to pass through during labor. HOWEVER, relaxin is mostly present during the third trimester of pregnancy and for three months post pregnancy. You do not need to stop weight training or exercising; you just need to be mindful of doing any exercises that put joints in an unstable or strained position. It is therefore recommended that you keep all leg exercises bilateral, where both feet are on the ground – such as a squat or leg press and to stay away from unilateral movements, such as lunges as your pelvic region does not offer you the same support at this stage of pregnancy. As a result the muscles in the surrounding areas will try to pick up the short fall for the instability in the joint and ligament region – potentially causing muscle or ligament strains that will take months to rehabilitate post – pregnancy
7. RUNNING IS UNSAFE DURING PREGNANCY
False. You can’t “shake your baby loose”; she’s safe and sound, swimming around in amniotic fluid while you jog around the block. As long as there are no changes in your joints and ligaments, you can continue running – if you used to do so prior to falling pregnant. Some runners are able to keep going many months into their pregnancies, but eventually discomfort will cause them to switch to lower-impact activities such as walking, water workouts or the elliptical trainer.
8. CRAVINGS INDICATE THAT YOUR BODY IS LACKING SOMETHING
False! Stress, anxiety and emotions can all impact our ‘need’ for certain foods – take carb foods like bread, biscuits and sweet treats for example. Eating them has a calming effect and boosts levels of the good mood brain chemical, serotonin – which is just what you craves when you’re feeling down or you’re stressed out. Remember that even though pregnancy is a wonderful process, it still puts stress on moms’ body – especially if you are not getting in a balanced daily diet. Your baby will begin to leach all the nutrients it needs from your body if they are not present from your diet. Therefore, the best way to curb the cravings is with a balanced and healthy diet, where nothing is left to be desired.
Giorgina is half Italian, half South African and a happily married mom of two, a little girl, Jordan and her son, Kai. She is a qualified Clinical Nutritionist, Pregnancy / Postpartum Exercise Specialist & Personal Trainer. She believes in investing in a lifestyle that holds consistency to the highest value and does not believe in deprivation of any kind. Read More