The Benefits of Winding Down

This week, Ovia's Guest Expert Kira of FitBump takes a look at her fitness and lifestyle routine and taps into a mindful third trimester approach.

I was ready to treat this pregnancy like training for a marathon and running two businesses simultaneously. Structured, organized, energetic, results-oriented. Early on, when people would look at me with eyebrows raised and say, “You’ll need to slow down,” I would get annoyed, more intensely motivated. How dare they presume to know anything about my drive and energy level? And for the most part, my first trimester was business as usual. No nausea, no energy dips, no need to sleep more. As my husband would try every bargaining tactic to get me to take a nap, I was scheduling more meetings and still going full speed ahead.

Then everything came to a grinding halt. Towards the end of my second trimester, I got the stomach flu. Not a little bug, but the full-on, toilet hugging flu. For someone who rarely gets sick, this on top of pregnancy was epically overwhelming. Even after it ran its course, it took me weeks to get back to a normal appetite and energy level. I wasn’t used to feeling run down, drained, and foggy.

This unintentional winding down was extreme, and it made its point. Not only did I have to physically slow down, but it also made me prioritize and take a look at the bigger picture. Unknowns happen, and unknowns will happen more frequently with a new baby coming onto the scene. Maybe structuring each day down to the minute and running on all cylinders isn’t the optimal approach. I started to reassess what was rejuvenating me versus depleting my energy.

Here are a few things I’m learning and incorporating into daily life, prior to the arrival of my son. Each has an element of “winding down” in a positive, constructive way.

Routines Can be More than Just Routine

I’ve been setting up little routines throughout the day. A quick set of three yoga poses in the evening to wind down; 5-10 minutes of meditation or birth affirmations; being more present at a meal knowing that it nourishes me and a future human! Your routine should be for you. Something that creates space, de-stresses, and relaxes. If you feel it’s tough to schedule, put it in your calendar with a reminder or attach it to an already established habit (stretch in the shower or meditate right after brushing your teeth).


Learn to Say ‘No’

There have been a few times when I pushed the limits of what I knew would be feasible for me to handle in a day (overbooked meetings, events, family obligations, etc.). And I really paid the price – immediate exhaustion, migraines, and a day to recover. I’ve come to realize there is a now a finite cap on my level of energy, and once it’s spent, there is no more. The days of me digging into the reserves are gone for now, so I had to start saying ‘no;’ to family and friends, to colleagues and clients, and most importantly, to myself. Having a chat with inner Kira would get frustrating (“But you could do it before!”), but putting my health and the baby’s health first was my main priority. And you only have 9 months to waive that pregnancy card – use it!


Modification Isn’t Defeat

I knew I would have to make fitness modifications as my body changed, but deep down, I figured I would be the one running right up until D-Day. So even though I’m still training, I’m substituting mindful fitness tweaks, like adding walks instead of sprints, and taking stretching breaks instead of adding that third HIIT round. I came to realize this also meant modifying other aspects of my life, like not getting frustrated that rolling out of bed is so hard for a 3:00AM bathroom visit (why is it so hard!). In the past, any injury or modification would have felt like defeat to me. Instead, this slowing down feels like a rare opportunity to ease into a new phase of life.


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Tired? These 3 Energy Boosting Moves Will Put You Back on Track

Today's post is from Kira, founder of Fitbump and an AFAA certified and ACE pre/postnatal certified personal trainer with over 15 years of experience. Working primarily with moms to maintain fit, healthy pregnancies, she's also a 21X Half-Marathoner and 4X Marathoner! Kira is currently pregnant with her first child, due in August 2016. Find out what moves can get the blood flowing and energy levels up below!

The fatigue is real! It often comes with the territory during pregnancy and hits moms in different ways at different times. Movement is a great alternative to coffee or a sugary snack. Not only do these full-body moves help add a little pep to your step, they are beneficial for circulation. This is important to keep in mind, as your oxygenation needs for baby and placenta become more prevalent during those 40 weeks. Trust us, this quick workout will be better than a jolt of caffeine. We recommend 2-3 rounds if you have the time.

1. Squat with Rotational Overhead Press - 10 Reps

Begin with feet a little wider than hip width apart, chest up and back flat. As you stand, rotate your feet and torso to the left, pressing your hands over your left shoulder. Return to standing and repeat, rotating to the right side. That's one rep.

*Fit Tip: Want to add this to your fitness routine as a strength move? Grab a medicine ball or dumbbell to work your shoulders and arms.

1A. Energy Boosting. Squat rotate press A.jpg

2. Forward Alternating Lunge with Twist - 10 Reps

Start with your feet hip width apart and your arms reaching straight out in front of you. Step one foot out into a lunge position, bending both knees, and rotate your arms and torso over your lead leg, being mindful that your knee doesn’t track over your ankle. Rotate back to neutral and stand up. Step forward into a lunge with the opposite leg while rotating your arms and torso over that lead leg. That’s one rep.

*Fit Tip: Have a resistance band handy? Wrap it around your hands and slowly press outward when rotating your arms on the lunge to add in an arm move!

3. Plank to Frog Squat - 10 Reps

Start in a push-up position (modification can be on your knees). With your arms fully extended, bring your right foot forward so that it is beside your right hand and then bring your left foot forward beside your left hand. Bring your hands off the floor, placing your elbows on the insides of your knees, for a 3-count breath as you hold in the low squat. Place your hands back on the floor and straighten each leg back to the starting position. This is one rep.

*Fit Tip: If you are earlier in your pregnancy, and still feel comfortable hopping, you can hop both legs forward into frog instead of walking each forward.

Delivery options: finding the perfect one

Ever heard of hypno birth? Well, it’s something to consider, along with many other alternatives to a traditional vaginal birth. Delivery can be a stressful and hectic experience, so it’s best to have a clear vision of how you want it to go beforehand. You should have control over the way in which you welcome Baby into the world, so do some research and consider your individual health needs and potential complications.

First off, you want to be in an environment where you feel comfortable when giving birth. Some options are:

  • Hospital birth: If you feel safer with access to medical technology and excellent resources in emergencies, a hospital birth may be best for you. Additionally, a large staff of healthcare providers will be available to assist in the delivery.
  • Home birth: This is a suitable choice if you haven’t had many problems throughout your pregnancy and your healthcare provider doesn’t anticipate complications during delivery. If you are feeling particularly anxious about delivery, you might feel most comfortable with familiar rooms. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends discussing the risks of home births with a healthcare provider before making a final decision.
  • Birth center: This option provides more personalized attention from a group of midwives or nurse-midwives and usually encourages natural birth. You should only consider it for low-risk pregnancies, and be prepared to get transported to a hospital if complications occur.

There are also a variety of delivery methods to choose from, such as:

  • Vaginal birth: This method usually has the shortest recovery time and best results in terms of breastfeeding and bonding with Baby. Many women are concerned about coping with pain, but you can address this prior to or during delivery with your healthcare provider.
  • Water birth: Giving birth in a tub of 90-100°F water can be a more relaxing and less painful delivery option. It can be facilitated in a home birth or hospital, and Baby’s heart rate will be monitored with a modified throughout the birthing process doppler device. Since she has been residing within the amniotic sac for nine months, it is fine for her to come out in or above the surface of the water and be pulled out immediately to start breathing. ACOG allows that immersion in water in the first part of labor could decrease pain or use of anesthesia, but advises against the second stage of labor and delivery under water.
  • Hypno birth: This method is mostly a coping mechanism for pain, since the technique helps with the breathing exercises and psychological effects of contractions. It can be done with a trained practitioner or be self-taught.
  • C-section: Most healthcare providers recommend delivery by C-section if they anticipate complications in labor or believe a vaginal birth could put you or Baby at risk. C-sections are also used for breech babies (oriented bottom-down) most of the time unless your doctor feels comfortable with delivering a breech baby and can perform this delivery safely. A C-section has a longer recovery time, so talk to your healthcare provider to see if it is the best option for you.

As always, your delivery should be a personalized process, and the best thing you can do to prepare is weigh the pros and cons of each method and location. Additionally, make sure you have a backup plan in case complications arise or you change your mind later on.

What does a ‘healthy pregnancy’ mean?

Today's post is written by Rosie Pope, co-founder and creative director of Rosie Pope Maternity, Rosie Pope Baby and MomPrep. She is also the author of MOMMY IQ (Harper Collins 2012) and a TV personality. On top of that, she's most proudly a mom to 4 and when she’s not working or chauffeuring her kids around in their prized mini-van, she's attempting to build the most epic train track, disguised as a Ninja Turtle or brewing another cup of coffee!

When I found out I was pregnant with my first child my excitement level was off the charts!  Once it set in that I would be sharing my body for the next nine months with my growing baby, I became laser focused on having a ‘healthy pregnancy’.

To me that meant educating myself on all of the things that I could do to help give my baby a healthy and strong home (body) to grow in.  I researched everything under the sun; what to eat, what to stay away from, how much weight to gain, benefits of prenatal exercise, how vitamins would help support me and my baby, etc.

As a society, plenty of attention is given to the physical changes in a woman's body during pregnancy, but the emotional and mental aspects of pregnancy don’t always get discussed - yet they can also play important roles in having a healthy pregnancy.

What I learned from my first pregnancy, and with each of the three that followed, is that a holistic approach to pregnancy is best. This means focusing on taking care of yourself as a whole - not only physically, but also emotionally and mentally.  So today I want to share a couple of tips that I hope you find helpful:

Tip # 1 Remind yourself that change is good

Be aware that while it can be difficult to see your body change drastically in such a short period of time, every new change is a sign of progress and health for your baby! So when you notice your body changing, make a conscious decision to exchange a sigh for a moment of self-pride.  You’re literally Wonder Woman during pregnancy. Own it!

Tip #2 Connect with your emotions

Pregnancy involves a complex mix of emotions, both good and bad – and some you may have never experienced before.  Although this can sound scary, the best thing you can do for you and your baby is to recognize your feelings in the moment – good or bad. Don’t judge yourself for feeling a certain way, and certainly don’t try to ignore your feelings. Doing so will only create stress and stress is definitely not good for your baby or you.  Consider keeping a journal and sharing it with your doctor or a loved one.  Sometimes talking through emotions and what triggers emotion is helpful.

Health post-baby

Your holistic approach in caring for you and your baby doesn’t have to stop after your baby is born.  It’s important to be aware of options that are available to you now, during pregnancy, that can help plan and prepare for your little one’s future health.  One thing to consider is saving the umbilical cord blood and cord tissue after your baby is born.

To learn more about cord blood banking and its potential health benefits visit