Quite the controversial topic, I admit! But with more and more women becoming more and more overweight, it's really important that we address it so we can take control of our health and understand the impact it has on ourselves and also on our children. A recent study by the World Health Organisation forecasts that by 2030, 57% of Irish women and 48% of Irish men will be obese. I know most women understand they don't actually have to eat for two during pregnancy, but there is confusion over exactly how much extra you need to eat, and how much weight you should be putting on during each trimester. So I'm going to do my best to answer all those questions now.
What happens to our metabolism when we are pregnant?
During the first half of pregnancy, when baby’s growth is limited in size, the mother’s metabolism is in an anabolic phase, meaning it is building itself up. Glycogen stores (energy storage) are increased in the liver and the muscle, and protein synthesis is...
This situation has happened countless times in my classes:
Mama says (with a very concerned facial expression) "my consultant says I'm having a big baby and I might need a c-section". One of the most disempowering lines a pregnant woman can hear, in my view, when they had never previously considered anything but a straightforward vaginal birth. Basically, the doctor is saying, 'love, your body has grown a baby that's too big for you and you won't be capable of birthing it yourself'. I find it very frustrating, as so many times the comments are not based on facts. What doctors tend to be concerned about is that the baby gets 'too big for the woman's body' or may get 'stuck' in the birth canal, leading to a traumatic birth for both the baby and the mother. A valid concern certainly.
But looking at the facts, the actual evidence does not support the theory. So who exactly is 'at risk' of having a 'big baby'? There are some health conditions and your own birth history which can...
My philosophy on Birth Preparation is pretty simple. Like most things in life, I feel we overcomplicate things, and Birth is no exception.
For 80-90% of people giving birth, it is / should be a physiological normal, straightforward experience. There will always be high-risk births and emergency situations where the incredible doctors are there to help and support us.
With this in mind, I'm keeping this blog post short and to the point with my 5 top tips:
1. Practice Yoga & Exercise for the recommended minimum 150 minutes per week. Is this a surprise?! Not really!! There are SO many benefits to practicing Yoga in Pregnancy. This study from 2020 says alot:
Rong et al (2020)
Some of the reasons why Prenatal Yoga are so impactful are because you are:
A couple of weeks ago, I got an email from a lovely lady who had really enjoyed the 5 Days to a Better Birth Challenge. She said she would love to hear more about my own births. Specifically, she wanted to know more detail about how I used my own techniques to birth, my three children, naturally, and if I had any tips about how to navigate the Irish hospital system.
So I thought it might be really useful to share more of that detail with you today. Make a cuppa and get cosy :-)
My first birth, like for most people, had the biggest impact on me and shaped my whole birthing experience. It was in 2009, and not much has changed in the Irish hospital system (apart from Covid!), in so far as the staff are blooming awesome, but sadly for them and for us, they are desperately understaffed and there is a growing tendency to treat birth as a heavily medicalized event. Therefore, giving birth in Ireland (and most of the Westernized world) can currently be a little tricky to...
Is taking time out for yourself being selfish or is it an act of self-care/self-love? When you have a lot of other responsibilities and people depending on you, what is acceptable as loving yourself, and what is seen as selfish?
This is something that has personally come up recently and I'm surprised that it has surfaced. So I wanted to write down my thoughts and get your feelings too?
Whether you have young children, are pregnant, have a hectic work life, have family or carer commitments, or whatever it is, how do you find that balance? At what point is taking some time for yourself considered a necessity...or when does it tip over to be seen as a selfish act, that you are putting yourself first. Where do you draw the line?
Personally, I feel our parent's generation was not 'good' at this. When I look at my mom, my god she's a trojan...she rarely stops. She's amazing, phenomenal and at times I'm simply in awe of her! Is this to be admired, are we being soft, or...
If someone told me when I was pregnant, that the way I sit or stand can affect the length of my labour...I'd be listening to them with each cell of my body! And that is what I'm here to share with you today.
As well as the type of labour you could have, your posture alone can also have an unbelievable influence on the levels of comfort / pain in your pregnant (and postnatal) body.
So let's talk about labour first. Having a short and active labour (which is what we all want, right?!) is a bit like a jigsaw puzzle, requiring different pieces to slot in nicely together. Your posture and lifestyle during pregnancy is one of those crucial puzzle pieces. It's never talked about, which blows my mind, so let's get into it.
Something as simple as slouching back into your chair in the evenings, during those last important few weeks of your pregnancy, can have a huge impact on how your baby lies inside you. Our lifestyle does NOT encourage baby to get into a 'good' birthing position....
One morning as I was working, I came across an interview Tracy Donegan did with Gail Tully from Spinning Babies (both wonderful ladies doing wonderful things). And I was so thrilled to hear the conversation very quickly turn to the awesomeness of Prenatal Yoga. Then Gail spoke this magnificent line:
Pregnancy Yoga is the new childbirth education
I squealed in delight shouting 'thank you'! I don't know who I was talking to?! So what did she mean by that? Well, most ladies will come to me saying 'I've heard that yoga is good in pregnancy', or 'my doctor said it was good'. I'm just thrilled that this gorgeous lady is standing in front of me, not because it means dosh for me (you don't choose to become a yoga teacher if you want to be a millionaire!!!), but because she has just done the best thing she could possibly do for herself, her baby and her birthing experience. I don't say those words lightly. So why do the doctors and other professions think...
On my first baby, when I found out I was pregnant, I stopped running in my first trimester. Why? Because having experienced a miscarriage a few months beforehand, there was just something in the back of my mind thinking "God I wonder does all this running and bobbing up and down somehow affect this tiny baby's ability to grow and cling on to life? So in essence, fear stopped me, and I guess also a lack of knowledge. I kept walking all the time throughout and eating healthily, but looking back, I really wished I kept my fitness levels higher.
Fitness and supporting women on their journey into motherhood are both big passions of mine. So, I committed to learning more about it. Learning the facts, the guidelines, the safety aspects - a couple of years ago, I completed my qualification as a Prenatal & Postnatal Fitness Specialist, (I already hold pre/postnatal yoga, Hatha Yoga, and several other qualifications in the related field).
In a nutshell, the question...
During my training for the Dublin City Marathon, I go for a long run on the weekends. This weekend, I wrecked my hip. During the week, I could feel it niggle so I rested, but after 8 miles on my long run, I had to pull up, make the call and get a lift home. I'm very peeved about it, but also, it actually happened on the other hip the last time I trained for the marathon. As with all challenges in life, I need to listen to the lesson in this! I'm sharing this as I know it will help a lot of women, regardless if you are pregnant, had a baby a few months or a few years ago!
I know myself I need to incorporate more glute (butt) strengthening work into my routine. I'm fairly flexible, so often what happens in the body is if someone is really flexible in some part of their body, they need to build strength or stability. And the reverse is also true. You'll often see very strong guys in a yoga class who are really inflexible. Finding the balance is key, particularly as you increase...
I get emails and phone calls all the time from gorgeous pregnant mamas, and so many of them are wondering the same thing.... is it too late for me to start yoga? I can hear the slight anxiety in their voices.
For many pregnant women, the time has flown by, particularly if they have other children at home and life is busy! They can be around 30 weeks pregnant sometimes before I talk to them. The very short answer is NO, it is never too late to start prenatal yoga in my opinion! Even if you are 38 weeks pregnant and you attend one class or practice Prenatal Yoga online once, you will always get some benefit from it.
In all my years teaching, I have yet to meet someone who didn't enjoy at least some aspect of the session! The very least you will get from yoga is a good stretch out, reduced back pain, and a blissful period of relaxation. So if I was 38 weeks pregnant, I'd certainly take that!
But just look at what a few weeks or months (or longer!) of yoga practice can do for...