Wednesday, September 5, 2012

What I Found Most Helpful While Prego

We live in an information ready world. We can "Google" anything and receive gobs and gobs of information on that topic, we can Facebook a close friend and get their opinion. We can use our cell phones to call mom and get her advice on something right away. We can download an encyclopedia app, buy books, and read magazines all geared to give you information on a desired topic. So how do you know which are most helpful? I was wondering the same thing, so I asked my doctor, "Can I trust this..?" I also asked other mom's who have been there - my mom and sister have been bombarded with phone calls. I'm sure a few women in our church are asking why they ever went out of their way to tell me, "If you need anything, ask." Ha. Do I ever.

The last thing I wanted to do was to go into pregnancy or motherhood feeling clueless. The fact of the matter is, that even after educating myself, I still feel that way. I ask myself, "Do I really know what I'm getting myself into?" "Am I really prepared for what's ahead?" And all this "education" has left me feeling a tad dizzy. It's overwhelming and fascinating!

One reason for starting this blog was to share! So this time, I'm sharing what I found to be most helpful in preparation for our baby.

Books:
  • What to Expect When You're Expecting by Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel
  • The Complete Book of Breastfeeding by Marvin S. Eiger, M.D. & Sally Wendkos Olds
  • Sheparding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp
  • The Bible (If you want the best guide on how to raise your child, read it! Start with Proverbs, it was written by a father [Solomon] giving his son wisdom on how to live a godly life.)I have 4 other books and a magazines GALORE that were given to me, but I found these most helpful by far.
Websites: (Cause if you're like me you need to know if something is "normal" before you call the doctor for the umpteenth time, which, if you use your resources you'll also be like me and only call them once during your entire pregnancy - if you're blessed with a "normal" pregnancy.)
Other Mothers
To me, this was the most helpful. After posting something here I'd receive helpful information from my friends, family members, and from other mom's who were already doing what I said I was going to try. I received reuseable diapers, learned how to fold them, upkeep them, and use them properly. I learned that other mom's were doing natural births (very encouraging), I learned other mom's made their baby food, and there were tons of mom's out there trying to be more frugal. I learned what to take and what not to take to the hospital. What I really need and don't really need in the nursery. I got so many ideas and helpful information from YOU. So thank you! Thank you! THANK YOU!

Exercise: www.crossfitmom.com
I love the workouts posted here designed to build strength, which is what you NEED in order to endure the intensity of labor for a long period of time. However, I either refused to or could not do some of the workouts posted. When I walk, for example, I get Braxton Hicks contractions the entire time. So my doctor encouraged me to continue walking and exercising, but to also give myself rest making sure that they actually subsided. So I refused to jump or run, plus with all that jiggling around the baby did, it became uncomfortable! So I improvised, trying to work the same muscle groups as advertised for the same amount of time or rounds (if it was easier, I increased the time or rounds).

The other day, I couldn't do the posted workout because I don't have access to a swimming pool or row machine. Plus, my hubby and I share the bar and we didn't have time to switch weights back and forth or take turns working out. So I did this:
  • 7 Push-Ups
  • 15 Squats (I just used a 25 lb plate because that's what we have...)
  • 30 Step Ups
  • As many rounds as I could get in 15 minutes. I really, really try to focus on my breathing - in through my nose, out through my mouth - as I counted reps. Great practice for labor. :)
These were some of my staple warm up exercises: (Warming up is vital! You're preparing your muscles to work hard, decreasing injury, increasing output. By working up a slight sweat so your muscles are ready to do what your going to ask them to do you'll be less sore because of it, especially if you stretch afterwards and drink lots and lots of fluids before, during, and after exercise. As a track coach I do NOT recommend static stretching for warm ups. Think about it, if you sit down to stretch your quads, hammy's, arms, etc. are you preparing your muscles for action? Save static stretching for AFTER your workout. ACTIVELY work and stretch your muscles. Here's a few of my favs:)

Plank - hold it for 1 minute 3 times - great core exercise for prego people.
Haha, I googled images to give you an idea of what the heck I was talking about and couldn't resist this picture:

Be like a dog about to pee on a fire hydrant, hence the name: Fire Hydrant! :) Lift your leg up and down, keeping your knee bent. Repeat 10-25 times per day with both legs. You'll really feel it in your hips.
Variation of Fire Hydrant, just extend your leg out. I don't always bring my arm forward. I'll do this the same amount of reps as the Fire Hydrant with both legs, you'll feel it in your butt.
Another variation of Fire Hydrant, keeping your knee bent, bringing your leg to your belly and extending it to the ceiling. You'll feel it in your buttocks as well as your hammy's. (Same reps, both legs)
Lunges - 10-15 both legs.
My track kids loved this one, probably because it looks very... sexual..., and although I feel a tad goofy doing it, it helps so much! You literally just rotate your hips in a circular motion feeling the stretch through your core, back, and hips as you rotate. Do this clockwise and counter clockwise.
P.S. Do this with your neck as well. Neck Rotations are amazing and relieve a lot of stress. Do them clockwise and counter clockwise as well. (I hope an explanation is good enough here and that I don't need to find a picture, haha.)

I have to laugh because this one got more and more difficult the bigger I got, but it's a great hammy stretch. Your basically keeping your leg extended and kicking to hit your hand. Do this about 10 times each leg.
I love this one because you're giving yourself a hug while stretching shoulders, arms, and upper back. Remember that your in motion, so extend your arms, hug yourself, extend your arms, hug, extend, hug, etc.
Lastly, Toe Pops. These were my absolute favorites in track. You literally "POP" from the balls of your feet to your toes as you walk (Stay off your heels). It's great for calves and ankles.

I'm sitting here going through my muscles to make sure I haven't forgotten anything (During track warm ups I'd start singing "Head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes..." to my high schoolers... they were masters at rolling their eyes at me.):
  • Neck
  • Shoulders
  • Arms
  • Upper back
  • Lower Back
  • Chest
  • Core
  • Butt
  • Hips
  • Hammy
  • Inner thighs
  • Quad
  • Calves
  • Ankles
Um, I think I covered everything... I have tons of different warm ups for each and we'd rotate through them in practice, but during my own workout I like those I just gave you.

Stretching!
This was something I do every day and I can't imagine how sore I'd be if I didn't. The aches and pains your muscles endure as they are stretched to their limit, or prepare for labor, are exhausting! There were days I woke up feeling like I got ran over by the dump truck a couple times. Again, I'll share my favs: (Think of the same muscle groups listed above...)

I can't remember, for the life of me, what this one is called, but thankfully it popped up in the google images when I typed in "yoga for shoulders". It is by far the best stretch I have ever experienced for my upper back/shoulders. This is how it works: Extend your arm like you're going to shake someone's hand. Bring your other arm around it (elbow to elbow), and touch plams as you bend your elbows. As you exhale, bring your elbows to the ceiling, increasing your stretch. AMAZING.
Cat Cow stretches your core and back muscles. This one was my fav for my sore ribs.
Butterfly Stretch for your inner thighs. Increase the stretch by leaning forward, as much as your belly will let you. :)

Next, I sit cross legged and extend my hands as far in front of me as I can, placing them on the floor. With each exhale I slowly "crawl" as far forward as I can. Switch which foot you have in front. This is a great stretch for your hips, butt and lower back.

After this I stay cross legged and do a side stretch, I think I'm in heaven when I stretch my right side simply because that's where she likes to stick her little foot or  butt most often as she stretches, making mommy super sore.

Cradle is an excellent stretch for your hips and butt (it's a great one to do before working out as well) because your literally cradeling your foot in the nook of your arm, and rocking side to side. Pretend your toes are the head of your baby, lol. Do this with both legs.
 I go right from Cradle to my hammy stretch where I extend my leg (like shown) and touch my toes.

I call this one Quad Wall Stretch and it's rather intense. There's time's where I can't bring myself past stage 2 and that's ok.
I googled "partner hammy stretch" and this was the best picture I found to illustrate what Kyle and I do after every workout. Keep your knee unbent, bring your leg as close to you as you can stand, push against your partner for 10 seconds, to extend the stretch to your calves have your partner pull down on your toes. After ten seconds, relax your leg, bend your knee, and allow your partner to "pump" your leg - sending it straight out in front of you and then pushing your knee into your chest, extend out, push in, etc. about 2 or 3 times. I'm always reminded of "Dumb and Dumbers" CPR in the restaurant when I do this, except it's one leg at a time, hahaha. Do this up to 3 times for each leg.

Haha,l I actually remembered the name to this stretch: seated glute stretch. It's amazing for your butt, aka glute.
Everything is connected to everything, so when you stretch be sure to target all the muscles (think of all your muscles from neck to toe, even if you don't know what they're called).

The thing about the warm ups, exercise, and stretching, I did them before I was pregnant and I contribute the health of my lower back to doing these things. I had a back injury in college and it kept reoccuring until I incorporated these things into my life almost everyday. It's worth it. I promise.

I'm the type of person that needs to know a little about something before diving into it. Well, we didn't really do that before getting pregnant, lol. Thankfully, we have a few months to prepare for our bundle of joy and educate ourselves on discipline strategies, products to buy, labor and delivery, breastfeeding, etc. etc. I highly recommend learning about pregnancy and motherhood before giving birth. Why? Well... remember that mother's have been doing this for thousands of years before us! Some information you'll throw away, some you'll keep tucked away, either way, I don't recommend "learning as you go" (which you will already do) but go in -sorta- prepared, knowing you know something, or with good questions to ask on the important stuff like, "What are some strategies that worked for you when your 2 year old threw a temper tantrum in the middle of Wal-Mart?" (Read Sheparding a Child's Heart or ask a mom who's been there, done that) or "If my baby doesn't take to nursing right away, what do I do?" (Read The Complete Book of Breastfeeding) etc. etc. The more you know, the more you don't know (sorry), but at least you'll know something, which is better than nothing. Hope that made sense. And you'll go in scared, but less scared about the changes up ahead. I'd take less scared over scared, scared any day!

This all reminds me of my first year of teaching. I felt like Doane College prepared it's teachers, however, there's some things you just have to learn as you go and I believe parenting is one of them. You shouldn't go in clueless, there's so much information out there - take some initiative and learn it! BUT expect tons of ah-ha, light bulb, or just plain "duh" moments as you go through it. I can't wait for the journey ahead! I'm nervous and excited all at once. I feel prepared to take on anything and if I'm feeling overwhelmed (ahem, I mean when I'm feeling overwhelmed) I know I have tons of other mothers and resources full of wonderful advice.

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