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Product Review

Exercise in pregnancy

Labour is called labour for a reason. It is hard, physically exhausting work. It can sometimes last many hours, but even if it is short, it is still hard work. Not only is it physically demanding, it also tests your mental strength. Then when you think it’s all over and you finally give birth to your baby, you are immediately responsible for caring for a newborn. No small feat in itself. With the rigorous and sometimes daunting task of bringing babies into the world, it is good to be well prepared both in body and mind.

If you are someone who does not love exercise (like me), now is NOT the time to start running marathons, if you catch my drift. But it IS definitely time to start moving and training your body gently towards the goal of being able to birth your baby actively and healthily. Increasing your fitness levels will also help you recover more quickly and manage during the difficult, sleepless few months that follow birth. Even minimal exercise, such as walking for 20 minutes every other day before and after birth is beneficial. It has also been shown to decrease the incidence of postnatal depression.

If you ARE someone who loves exercise but are worried because you’ve heard it can be dangerous for babies, fear not. Generally, if you are still comfortable to do so and you and your baby are healthy, with no vaginal bleeding or other pregnancy problems, you can continue to do mild to moderate intensity exercise throughout pregnancy.

There are a few reasons to be concerned about exercising in pregnancy. During pregnancy, specific hormones are released to help relax your ligaments and smooth muscles. This can increase your risk of injury, especially if you are doing high impact exercise. The best rule of thumb is to stick to low impact exercise and stop immediately if it “just doesn’t feel right”. Another concern is overheating and increasing your heart rate too much, which is associated with a reduced blood flow to the baby. Avoid sports where there is a risk of falling or being hit in the stomach (ie. horse riding, basketball etc). Total contraindications to exercise are vaginal bleeding, premature rupture of membranes (breaking your waters before you’re full term), premature labour, extremely high blood pressure or pre-eclampsia and heart disease. Always talk with your midwife or doctor if you’re worried about exercise.

The Victorian Government Department of Health has great information about pregnancy and exercise, click here to have a look.

Here are a list of services that provide exercise programs for pregnant women, both in and around the Sutherland Shire (in no particular order):

1) Gracefully Fit and Healthy, 111 Mulga Rd Oatley, NSW, 2223, (02) 9585 2244

I did prenatal yoga classes here and could not recommend them highly enough. They were great! Lovely, caring instructors who modify classes to individual needs and fitness levels. During the classes you also work on strengthening your mind by learning specific labour breathing techniques and ways to stay calm and in control during birth. I can say with great confidence that these classes helped me have such a wonderful birth experience with Arlo. They also run fertility yoga, postnatal mums & bubs yoga and mums & toddlers yoga classes. There is a naturopath who can help you with all your needs for pregnancy, birth and beyond.

2) Engadine Yoga and Pilates Centre – Suite 1, 1075 Old Princes Hwy, Engadine, NSW 2233, (02) 9548 5368

I haven’t done any classes here but one of my friends did pregnancy yoga here and quite enjoyed it.

3) Sutherland Shire Leisure Centres – Click here to go to the website

Engadine, Sutherland and Caringbah leisure centres run aqua aerobics classes. They are not pregnancy specific but I attended classes at Sutherland and Caringbah and they were happy to have me there and modified the program for me. Just be aware you will probably be the only pregnant one doing the classes along with all the white hairs. It’s best to do the “gentle aqua” program.

4) Sydney Aquanatal – Visit website for multiple locations in Sydney

One of my lovely midwifery colleagues runs this business. I’m really sad that I did not manage to get to a class because I believe a tailor made aqua class for pregnancy is ideal exercise! 3rd time round (don’t worry, not even thinking about it yet) I’m going to make sure I’m more organised!

5) Arna Opperman – 134 President Ave, Miranda, NSW, 2228, (02) 95256979  www.arnaopperman.com (website still in development)

This lady does physiotherapy and pilates classes. My sister in law went to her both pre and postnatally and was given a complement by her obstetrician during her caesarean that her stomach muscles were great!

6) Calmbirth classes – see website for more info

Although these aren’t exercise classes for your body, they are fabulous exercise classes for your mind! I didn’t actually do the classes but I read a friend’s class notes (very extensive) and was able to utilise so much of the meditation and mental preparation during labour. Just reading the notes was amazing, imagine what doing the classes would do! Again, something I will definitely be doing next time round.

 

There is also nothing wrong with good old fashioned walking. Just remember to stay well hydrated and LISTEN to your body and your baby. Regular gentle exercise for both your body and your mind, really is the best thing to prepare you for the journey of becoming a mother.

 

Double pram product review

When I found out I was pregnant and was soon to be a mother of two under two, I immediately started researching my double pram options. I become a little obsessive when I have a new task. So, as always, I dove in head first and did a lot of web searching, talking with other parents and in-store testing.

Here are my top picks in no particular order, except that number 1 is the pram I chose so, not wanting to plagiarise, it is the only one I have a photo of:

1) Baby Jogger City Mini Double

Seen here with a valco baby cocoon attached for newborns (I wouldnt bother with this having used it, would be just as good to buy a head hugger support and lay baby flat in pram itself)

Pros:

  • One-step fold (just pull the fold straps on each seat and pram collapses)
  • Lightweight (12kg, easy to get in and out of the car)
  • Easy to maneuver (can steer with one hand)
  • Good all-terrain pram (even though front wheels are smaller, still manages quite well over rough surfaces)
  • Fits through standard doorways
  • Separate sunshades with excellent coverage (more than any other brand)
  • Each seat fully reclines (suitable from newborn)
  • 22.5kg capacity per seat
  • Reasonably priced (rrp $849)

Cons:

  • Storage basket very hard to access (though can be accessed via small area on side of pram more easily)
  • Side-by-side design (even though it fits through standard doorways, it is hard to move in small shops and through some supermarket isles)

2) Baby Jogger City Select

Pros:

  • 16 seat configurations (2 bassinet/capsule/seat facing both forward, both backwards or towards each other, plus many more combinations)
  • Can also be used as a single pram
  • 20kg per seat weight capacity

Cons:

  • Feels long (like a tandem pram) when steering
  • Heavy 15kg as a double
  • Expensive (about $1200)

3) Steelcraft Strider Plus

Pros:

  • Can be used as a single or double pram
  • Compatible with Strider car seat and bassinet (purchase separately)
  • Second seat fully reclines and has a sunshade
  • Front load 20kg, rear load 15kg
  • 3 wheel and 4 wheel options
  • Can be folded with both seats

Cons:

  • Quite wide for a double decker pram (only a few centimetres smaller than Baby Jogger City Mini Double)
  • Heavy (with both seats attached: 3 wheel 17kg, 4 wheel 16.3kg)
  • One/both seats need to be removed to make picking up to put in the car manageable
  • Feels long when steering

4) Phil & Teds Explorer

Pros:

  • Easy to maneuver
  • Lightweight (around 12kg)
  • One-step fold
  • Pneumatic tyres (excellent for all-terrain)
  • Both seats have sunshades
  • Front load 20kg, rear load 15kg
  • Converts from inline double to single
  • Compatible with Phil & Ted’s car seat and bassinet (purchase separately, bassinet can not be used in double mode)

Cons:

  • Three wheeler (this is just my personal dislike because of instability)
  • Second seat does not fully recline
  • Second seat does not have a sunshade

5) Mountain Buggy Double

Pros:

  • Easy to maneuver
  • Each seat fully reclines (suitable from newborn)
  • Pneumatic tyres (excellent for all-terrain)

Cons:

  • Extremely heavy (about 17kg, I couldn’t even lift it once folded)
  • Very bulky and space hungry when folded

6) Valco Double Delight

Pros:

  • Lightweight (about 12kg)
  • Most inexpensive double on the market (about $200)

Cons:

  • Poor maneuverability (like a shopping trolley)
  • Side-by-side design
  • Single sunshade

7) Valco Ion For Two

Pros:

  • Lightweight (about 12kgs)
  • Easy to maneuver
  • Easy fold
  • Bassinet attachment for newborn available for seperate purchase
  • Adjustable handle height
  • Maximum 18kg per seat

Cons:

  • Single sunshade for both seats
  • Rounded design reduces head height for both children (even though website claims it’s more spacious, I tested it with an average 18 month old and it’s short)
  • Although it fits through standard doorways it is still a side by side design which can be hard to manage in smaller shops etc.

There are many more prams on the market but I can’t review them all so I’ve just mentioned the most popular ones. Anything Maclaren is over priced, but I do believe they are quite maneuverable and not too heavy. There are many 3 wheelers that have toddler seats available. I’m not a fan because they could tip more easily and the toddler seats don’t recline, don’t have sunshades and aren’t tall enough. Tandem prams are woeful to navigate around the shops and the back seat occupant has no leg room once they’re about 6 months old.

If you’d like me to review any other specific brands/prams let me know and I’ll post more reviews.

Click below to check out more details of each pram I’ve reviewed:

Baby Jogger

Stider

Mountain Buggy

Phil and Teds

Valco