Honey, I’m pregnant! One of the most joyous moment in the life of a couple is the anticipation of a baby. Yet, in talking with women over the years, I’ve notice that when these extreme feelings of elevation and happiness subside, their worst fears emerge: about getting fat, getting out of shape, having pains or no energy to continue a “normal life.”
The truth is, pregnancy is nine months of performance. Just like athletes, moms need strength.
After delivering my first baby at the age of 45, I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed being pregnant. During my pregnancy, many people asked me how I stayed so fit and maintained such an erect posture, walking as if my feet barely touched the ground. Even close friends asked how I managed to be so full of energy, never complaining about aches and pains. I used the Happy Body Program to guide me through the transformation pregnancy requires.
The most significant change in a woman’s body during pregnancy is the shift in the center of gravity from the heels to the toes, as the weight of the enlarged breasts and expanding belly pulls the body down and forward. To keep the body upright, the back muscles must constantly compensate for the new weight, by working harder. This stretches, elongates and fatigues the back muscles, leading to pains, injuries and loss of agility. At the same time, the front of the body—the neck, shoulders, rib cage and groin area—is compressed, which can lead to additional pains, injuries and loss of agility. The Happy Body program, with some adjustment for moms, can prevent all these problems.
How to adjust The Happy Body for pregnancy
At the beginning of the pregnancy, to be on the safe side, it’s a good idea for new moms to reduce the THB weight load by 25%. They can then maintain it throughout or adjust to a weight that’s more comfortable as they go along. Further adjustments for the second and third trimester include:
- eliminating exercises 2 & 3 from sequences 1, 2, and 3
- substituting with gentle spine twists, side bends, cat & camel stretches (pictured below).
Cat & Camel
Consistency and moderation is key, and daily practice will keep you calm and centered. In pregnancy, fear will drive some women to overdo and some not to do enough. Athletes must guard against miscarriage and not push themselves to extremes, while those who tend to be sedentary should not use pregnancy as an excuse to remain inactive. Staying in shape will be important after giving birth in responding to the challenges of the postpartum period.
Nutrition-wise, there is only one change to The Happy Body Program: pregnant women should eat 300 additional calories per day to nourish themselves and the baby. This is essentially one additional snack or supplementing meals with 150 calories each.
Keep in mind, you don’t want to overeat for the sake of gaining fat, as this will create all kinds of potential problems for yourself as well as for your baby. At the same time, you don’t want to starve yourself, as this could lead to malnutrition for the fetus and all sorts of resulting complications such as the underdevelopment of organs, including the brain. During pregnancy, metabolism is affected by diet, as well as the size and efficiency of one’s muscles. Maintaining a balanced diet of protein, sugar, fat and fiber is essential, as eating at the correct time.
Food quality is essential: moms should try to eat only organically grown produce and meats, avoiding the pesticides, fertilizers, antibiotics and hormones that are used in non-organic farming.
The most common health problems occurring during pregnancy that are caused by poor diet include: gestational diabetes, which is connected to sugar absorption and digestion; constipation, which is due to a lack of sufficient fiber; and obesity, which is the result of overeating and high blood pressure. Loss of hair or problems with teeth or nails call for calcium, which can be best obtained through consumption of fresh greens, rather than calcium supplements.
Pregnancy is a special time in a woman’s life, a sacred time during which the focus should be on the baby. But don’t forget your own needs and the third essential element of The Happy Body Program: rejuvenation. It’s important to take time for leisure and relaxation, whether that means going for a long walk in nature (in Japan this is called “forest bathing”) or something as simple as receiving a shoulder or foot massage from your partner.
Pregnancy is just one of many life conditions; you can also be sick, injured, or in athletic training, on a challenging deadline, etc. How do you find the place of “enough”? Can you ask for help from someone who’s capable?
Leave your response below in the comments.