Monday, 9 October 2017

Aqua Fitness for Pregnancy

We all know that keeping fit during pregnacy can be really beneficial.  So, today on the blog, Mara, our resident fitness guru, shares with us the benefits of aqua fitness for pregnant women.

Yesterday, I was teaching my regular aqua fitness class at the local leisure centre and I was delighted to see one my regular ladies who is pregnant.  She has been coming to my class for a few months now, and she really enjoys and understands the benefits of water fitness. The following are the many benefits that aqua fitness can provide:

  • Being in the water can be fun.  Having a good splash around can reduce stress and tension and offer therapeutic benefits. Plus water fitness can increase one of your most beneficial hormones during pregnancy, your endorphins;
  • When you are in water, your body is buoyant reducing pressure on the joints, legs and back. So, water fitness can reduce aches and pains, and therefore help you feel more comfortable;
  • You can enjoy a fat-burning, endurance-building workout without the impact of bouncing up and down on the ground or gym machines;
  • Water is denser than air, so requires increased muscular effort to move. So, you get an even better work out;
  • Thanks to the hydrostatic pressure, water exercise can help reduce swelling in the limbs;
  • Water fitness is also the perfect for those who are introducing fitness into their lifestyle during their pregnancy.  It is a gentle, yet highly-beneficial form of exercise; and
  • It is excellent for muscle toning, and for the cardio-vascular system.

The multiple benefits of water fitness means that is it amongst the best forms of exercise for pregnant women.  And, as long as you're having a healthy, low-risk pregnancy, you can keep being active in the water all the way to the end the pregnancy.

As with all exercise and fitness activites, always consult your midwife or GP before you start.  And, remember, that you still sweat in the water - even you do not feel it - so make sure you have plenty of water before, during and after the exercise. Plus, you can treat yourself at the the end of your workout to a bit of gentle relaxing time in the water. I guarantee you it will feel wonderful.

See you in the big blue!

With love
Mara x

Aqua Natal Teacher, Fitness Instructor, Hypnobirthing Practitioner 

'Mara is absolutely the best!  I am so excited for our birthing experience! I am amazed and delighted at how confident I feel.'

Monday, 2 October 2017

Healthy Vegetarian and Vegan Pregnancy

Being pregnant brings a plethora of questions regarding what women should eat or how much they should eat. In today's blog, Zakia helps us understand how to get a nutritionally-balanced diet as a vegetarian or vegan during pregnancy.  

So you're pregnant and thinking about how to best nourish youself and your growing baby bump.  There are many guidelines on nutrition during pregnancy and it can be quite overwhelming for women to know what’s best for them. It’s even more true for vegetarians and vegans.  Even the most committed and knowledgeable may face doubts when pregnant. Let’s have a look at what each group needs to be aware in order to enjoy a healthy pregnancy. 

A healthy vegetarian diet during pregnancy

If you eat a variety of healthy vegetarian foods, you should be able to get all the vitamins, minerals, protein and other nutrients that you and your baby need. Have something from each of these four main food groups every day:

·        Fruit and vegetables - a combination of fresh and frozen vegetable is fine, and try to have five portions a day. A glass of fresh fruit or vegetable juice counts as one portion.

·        Carbohydrates - these starchy, filling foods include wholegrain bread, pasta, rice and potatoes. Wholemeal and wholegrain options are healthier, will fill you up and help to prevent constipation.

·        Protein - eggs, beans, pulses and nuts are also a good sources of iron.

·        Dairy - these milk, cheese and yoghurt, if you are not lactose intolerant

It's especially important to include enough vegetarian protein, iron and calcium in your diet. Try to eat one or more of these sources of iron every day: green vegetables and pulses.
Avoid having tea and coffee with your meals, as these drinks contain tannins and polyphenols, which make it harder for your body to absorb iron from vegetables. However, if you have food or drink that is rich in vitamin C with your meals, such as orange juice or broccoli, it helps your body to absorb iron.

What to be aware of when vegan and pregnant

One of the most common questions asked if you are vegan is how do to get enough proteins in your diet.  During pregnancy, you should you get around 75g of protein daily. Proteins are essential to the growth of your cells, so it’s no wonder they are an important part of your pregnancy diet. Getting enough protein is vital to your baby’s growth. 

The third trimester of your pregnancy is when your baby’s brain will be developing. Proteins high in omega-3 fatty acids like DHA provide the nutrients necessary for proper cognitive activity and growth. Therefore, it’s more important than ever to get an adequate amount of protein during those last few months of pregnancy. Good sources include chia seeds, ground linseed, hemp seeds and walnuts, and try to use rapeseed oil for cooking.

The other question vegans get asked often is about calcium and vitamin D. Most people think the only good source of calcium are dairy products but the best bioavailable forms of calcium are from dark leafy vegetables like kale, as well as from almonds and sesame seeds. Calcium also works with other vitamins like vitamin D, so make sure you are also benefitting from some sun exposure and eat vitamin D rich foods (fortified unsweetened soya, rice and oat drinks, sesame seeds and tahini, pulses) brown and white bread (in the UK, calcium is added to white and brown flour by law) dried fruit, such as raisins, prunes, figs and dried apricots
The regular use of vitamin B12 supplements or fortified foods is recommended for all pregnant vegans as vitamin B12  is found primarily in foods of animal origin and plays an important role in the developing foetus. Fortified cereals are a good source and of course you can take specially formulated food supplements for vegans.

A vegetarian or vegan diet doesn’t mean your health or your baby’s health is at a higher risk of being depleted of essentials nutrients. If you choose carefully, your sources of proteins and have a diet rich in dark leafy vegetables, pulses, nuts and seeds, fresh fruits and good oils you are set to give  your baby and yourself a very healthy start.
Stay healthy, stay happy!
Zakia Mance
Naturopath and Hypnobirthing Practitioner