We ask our cover model Nandy Alexander a few questions about being pregnant and staying fit.
WHAT CHALLENGES HAVE YOU FACED KEEPING FIT WHILE BEING PREGNANT?
In my first trimester, my greatest challenge was the amount of sleep I needed. You literally sleep every single time your body tells you. I remember, in my second month of pregnancy, falling asleep fully clothed on a beach in Spain. My intention was to dip into the sea to cool off from the 47 degree heat but somewhere between putting up the umbrella and spreading out the blanket it didn't happen. Three hours later my husband casually woke me up from my 'nap'.
In my second trimester my gym clothing got too tight to wear and my nurse wanted me to put on even more weight. I realised my pregnancy was not about me, but about my son. How do I gain weight healthily and stay fit? Well my entire diet had to change. Adding more fruit, protein, calcium, whole grains and supplements gave me so much strength that going to gym became a breeze - I had the right type of energy to burn. Going to gym while pregnant is not about losing weight but about keeping your body active. So where I used to run for forty minutes, I now walk to accommodate my growing child's comfort. It helps me stay flexible, experience less swelling in my legs and I sleep better too. Pilates classes help me stay in contact with all my muscles especially those needed for birth. It keeps me calm and prevents back tension. I highly recommend a one hour Pilates class twice a week during this stage.
In my third trimester I found maternity gym wear difficult to source ' I've made my husband's sports shirts my go to wardrobe solution. Walking is great but for a longer period and slower pace. Walking fast or on an incline puts uncomfortable pressure on your cervix and bladder. Stretching is better done while standing. When lying on your back it feels like your lungs are failing from the pressure of your growing bundle. Bike riding and doing arm weights while sitting are also good moves.
DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE AND PRECAUTIONS TO RECOMMEND?
I would definitely tell any mom-to-be to listen to her body. If you are out of breath, slow down. If you are feeling pain, stop. As you progress in pregnancy your running speed will naturally decline, don't force it. Avoid the sauna or steam room - too much heat especially in the core area may negatively affect your unborn baby. My last precaution is not to train your abs while pregnant. Training your abs is generally fine during your first trimester but lying flat on your back lowers your blood pressure and will make you dizzy and uncomfortable. The constant pulling of your abdominal muscles can reduce the space your baby is in and may contribute to a breech birth.
WHAT I S YOUR FAVOURITE FITNESS REGIME?
I love Zumba dance classes at the gym. It's great fun - you sweat and burn off calories.
WHAT I S YOUR FAVOURITE WELLNESS TIP?
Exercise is a celebration of what your body can do and not a punishment for what you ate. My wellness tip is to change your mindset towards fitness, make it your favorite hobby and not the last chore on your list.
NANDY ' S 5 TO P T I P S FOR MOM'S-TO-BE
1. DON'T EVER SKIP MEALS
You are growing a human being that needs all the nutrients it can get. Your meals provide energy and allow your child to grow at the pace it needs. Remember though, eating for two is a myth. You can support the growth of your child by adding 300 calories to your diet everyday (something as simple as a chopped apple with peanut butter).
2. BE SERIOUS ABOUT HYDRATION
Hydration helps skin elasticity. Drinking two litres of water a day will help prevent stretch marks, constipation, headaches, dizziness, heartburn and also morning sickness. Keep hydrated even after birth - water is the main component of breast milk.
Your skin is stretching daily and dry skin can cause pain, itching and stretch marks. I find an oil-based moisturiser gives the skin the elasticity it needs. I use pure Argan oil from Wellness Warehouse. It has seen me through my entire pregnancy and, with just a few weeks to go, I haven't had a single stretch mark.
4. DON'T FORGET YOUR PARTNER.
He may not be the one carrying the child or doing all the hard work but this is also a special time for him. Many relationships go through a lot - roller coaster moods, our unexplained lack of wanting to be intimate in the beginning, our nesting habits or even our own selfishness. Involve him with everything and always ask him his opinion. Be close to him, you want him to remember your pregnancy as beautiful.
5. BE FEARLESS.
Many women are genuinely afraid of falling pregnant because of how their bodies will change, or fearful they will be terrible mothers, or afraid of the birth experience. I say you haven't experienced the true beauty of being a woman until you see what your body is capable of doing. The ability to bring life into this world is a power that surpasses any other. Enjoy your pregnancy for the beauty it is, the miracle it is and the preparation it gives you before the journey of motherhood. Don't be hard on yourself, your body is changing and that's okay. Lastly, don't be afraid of being a mother, you are never really ready for a child until you are actually expecting.