Staying fit while pregnant with FITMOM2B

As an expectant mom with a two-year old at home, there are a few things that I could use more of in my life: exercise, a chance to unwind, time outdoors, hanging out with other moms, and sleep (in no particular order). I was thrilled to find Ottawa FITMOM2B classes where I can accomplish all of these things (yes, these classes even help me to sleep better!).

A girlfriend encouraged me to join her for these weekly fitness classes while I was in my second trimester, and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience from my very first visit. I was greeted enthusiastically by the owner and pre/post-natal fitness guru, Sue, and after the arrival of another eight ladies or so, we got to work. The class strikes a fine balance of getting a good full-body workout, not a walk in the park, while doing so in a safe, controlled manner appropriate for most moms-to-be. The classes generally follow an interval structure, where strength exercises are carried out for a minute or so, followed by short periods of rest. Sue also ensures that all participants are mindful of the guidelines for exercise during pregnancy (as recommended by the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada), which include being aware of changes in balance, range of motion, caloric needs and hydration.

The classes have now moved outdoors to Windsor Park (Hunt Club near the airport) for the summer and it feels so good to be out enjoying longer summer evenings in the park and getting fresh air. The outdoor class also uses the park’s features to maximum advantage, incorporating benches and hills into the workout.

The class is rounded out with stretching and breathing exercises at the end of class, usually accompanied with some discussion about the importance of maintaining core strength and pelvic floor health before, during and after labour and delivery.

At 33 weeks pregnant I am so grateful to still be feeling strong and full of energy, and I know this is partly thanks to the FITMOM2B classes. I’m already looking forward to taking part in the FITMOM & Baby classes with my new peanut this fall. I highly recommend doing something great for yourself by checking out FITMOM; you can even try out your first class for free.

FitMOM Ottawa

About the author: I am a Calgary girl transplanted to Ottawa (via Australia, Tunisia, Mexico, et al), working for the public service. I’ve been married for three years, I’m mom to two year old Charlotte, a three year old feline, and we’ll be welcoming a little man to the family this summer. I’m also an avid cyclist, hiker, yogi, reader, coffee-lover and all around busy-body.

I blog about everything that is going on in and around town: festivals, special events, favourite yoga studios and great restaurants because I think that the ‘Hottawa’ is a fun and fabulous place to live.  Find me at @thehottawa.

Why The Office is Bad for Pregnancy (and how to make it healthier!)

You might have heard that our sedentary lifestyle is slowly killing us. When we work 8-9 hours a day sitting at a desk, come home, and plop ourselves down in front of the TV, we know we're doing our body a disservice. But what choice do we have? Money needs to be made, and our jobs are sometimes stressful (hence why we zone out in front of the TV every night). ForInternetUse-MistyFinal-16

But all the risks associated with our choices seem so far off in the distance. It's hard to take cardiovascular disease seriously when there's a "chance" that we'll develop problems. The payoffs we get now (money, power, job satisfaction) outweigh the negative impacts we may experience years down the road. That's why it's so hard to change - getting more exercise, eating better, and lowering stress have long-term benefits. Our brains are hard-wired to want what we want RIGHT NOW.

However, pregnancy is a short time in our lives. Long enough that we can appreciate what our bodies are putting us through, but short enough that we can see the outcome. And office life can have some detrimental effects on pregnancy and birth. But the good news is that short-term positive changes can be made to facilitate a healthier and less stressful pregnancy. And when we can see the benefits (i.e. a healthier mommy and a healthier baby), then we're much more motivated to make changes.

I've worked in an office for many years, and have never had an issue with sitting for long periods of time, typing all day long, and working under fluorescent lighting. Never, that is, until I got pregnant. Pregnancy changed my body, and made it hard to handle the demands of office life.

So here are some tips/tricks I learned along the way:

1) If possible, try to work from home or negotiate "flex hours" with your manager. Even 2-3 days a week at home can give you a much needed break from the fake lighting and lack of fresh air. Plus, you'll save time on your commute, which will give you the opportunity to get a bit of housework done or go for a walk.

2) Drink lots and lots of water. Office buildings have recirculated air, which can make them stuffy and dry. Keeping yourself well hydrated is a must.

3) Get up frequently - every 10 minutes. Go to the bathroom (not hard when your bladder is getting squished); take a quick trip to the water cooler; go for a walk around the building; or just do some stretching by your chair.

4) Sitting - we have an epidemic of malpositioned babies here in Ottawa. Some suspect it's because most of us are government/office workers, and we spent a lot of time reclined back in our chairs. This encourages our babies to take the "sunny side up" position, which can make labour and birth long and difficult (usually resulting in more interventions). One way to fix this is to buy an exercise ball to sit on instead of your office chair. This encourages you to arch your back, open your legs up wide and strengthens your core muscles.

5) Activate your commute. Park your car a 15 minute walk from work, which will force you to get 30 minutes of physical activity each day (try to do a power walk). If you take the bus, get off at a stop further away from the office, which again helps you to work in some short bursts of activity.

6) TV at night is still OK - just remember what I said above about posture and positioning. If you're watching TV at night with your hubby, bust out your yoga mat, and do some stretches. Or sit on your exercise ball instead of the couch. Even better? Turn off the TV and sign up for a yoga class!

Did you have an office job while pregnant? How did you keep yourself healthy? (or how do you keep yourself healthy today?These tips are important for us non-preggers as well!) 

 

The Best Ways to Prepare for Life with a Baby

The other evening I had the pleasure of attending a Better Beginnings Night at the Ottawa Birth and Wellness Centre. This was an event that reached out to any person looking for more information about pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum resources here in Ottawa. We saw women very close to their due dates, as well as women and their partners planning for pregnancy. There were birth doulas, postpartum doulas, chiropractors, and various businesses offering information and free samples. This got me thinking - what are the best ways to prepare for pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum? I think we all know the more obvious ways to get ready: prep the baby's room, attend regular prenatal appointments with your healthcare provider, and purchase baby supplies. But research has shown that women and partners who are well prepared for the reality of postpartum life tend to fare better in terms of adjustment issues and perinatal mood disorders.

So as your "in-house" doula, I present to you the top tips for preparing for life with a baby (hint....this involves a lot of classes!):

1. Take a prenatal class - one with an actual live teacher. The City of Ottawa now offers a free online course, but research has shown that your interaction with a teacher and/or classmates will enhance your learning. You also want to make sure that the class you choose focuses primarily on labour and birth - stages/phases, physiology, comfort measures for pain and  unexpected outcomes.

2. Take a yoga class - start in early pregnancy, and continue practicing as much as possible throughout each trimester. You not only prepare your body for the physical rigor of labour, but you teach yourself relaxation skills (the KEY to having a healthy birth)

3. Take a baby/newborn preparation class - most of us have absolutely no experience with newborns before we decide to get pregnant. In order to be comfortable with all the challenges you will face as a new parent, you need to understand newborn behaviours, sleep patterns (no, newborn babies do not sleep through the night!), and diaper, feed and carry your child.

4. Make a postpartum plan - it sounds silly, I know. "I need a PLAN to parent my child?" Yes, you do...at least in the beginning. You will be shocked at all the little details you hadn't thought of once baby arrives. Who is nearby to give you support? How will you get breaks? Who will cook and clean the house? Walk the dog? If you take time to think about these things before you enter the postpartum phase, you'll feel less overwhelmed.

5. Take time to hang with your friends who have become parents. Ask them questions. Hold a baby, and offer to babysit several times.

The clients I work with who adjust the easiest to postpartum life are the ones who have:

- a lot of family nearby - husbands/partners that can stay home on paternal leave (if this isn't possible due to financial reasons, plan who else you can call on for assistance) - lots of experience with newborns - taken prenatal classes - lower anxiety due to proper physical activity, meditation or relaxation skills, and yoga

Did you adjust well to the postpartum phase? What made it easier on you?

Top 10 Innovative Ways to Stay Cool During Pregnancy

I guess pregnant women don't have to worry much about heat this summer - it's been pretty cool and wet! Even so, keep these awesome tips on hand for those days that try to break 30 degree C :)

10) Eat lots of ice cream and/or popsicles. Even if you gain 50lbs during pregnancy, it's OK.

9) Have a cold shower, and then run naked to your bed. Let evaporation do its job.

8) Run through the splash pad with your toddler (bonus points if you try to splash the other parents)

7) Put your head under the water sprays in the produce aisle of the grocery store (bonus points if you then toss your wet hair in a very sexy way, attracting the eyes of the produce boys)

6) Buy a Japanese Ice Bra!

5) Drink hot tea (the British in India swore by this)

4) Bathe your feet in ice water (bonus points if you do this at the office)

3) Crunch loudly on ice cubes (again, the cubicle is a great place for this - especially to annoy your insufferable cube-mate)

2) Always expose your stretch-marked belly at the beach by wearing a bikini (bonus points if your bum is eating your bikini bottom)

1) Go skinny dipping (bonus points if you do this in a public pool)