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Pregnancy Fitness Do’s and Don’ts

What’s safe and what’s not when it comes to exercising during pregnancy.

Pregnancy Fitness Do’s and Don’ts

“I thought I was going to bake my baby by working out!” That’s just one of the many concerns that I have heard from mothers-to-be about whether to exercise or not during pregnancy.

Unfortunately many women don’t find the answers from the medical community. In fact, when this mother asked her doctor about how to stay fit while pregnant, she told her she didn’t know.

Many women live active lifestyles before becoming pregnant. They maintain challenging jobs, have busy schedules and usually fit in some kind of fitness routine. But once they get pregnant, that last component is suddenly taken away. Doctors err on the side of caution even in low risk pregnancies. They often respond vaguely about exercise -- possibly out of fear of bearing the responsibility for something going wrong. Suddenly, the fitness routine that provided stress relief, a social community and endorphins that keep women sane and happy are taken away. At a time when they could really use it.

Of course, the pendulum of what women consider doable during pregnancy swings wide, too. Whether you can engage in more strenuous activities (we’ve seen some moms run marathons pregnant!) depends largely on whether your pregnancy is low risk and how much exercise you did before getting pregnant. But even if you weren’t a very active person before, staying fit now will keep you sane and the baby healthy, aid with delivery, and speed up your recovery postpartum.

To help you get more comfortable exercising safely while pregnant, here’s a list of 4 Do’s and 4 Don’ts for fitness while pregnant:

PREGNANCY FITNESS DO’S

  1. DO put your legs up the wall later in your second and in your third trimester. Prop your hips up and rest your legs against a wall. This pose will help with swollen ankles, painful feet and calm the nervous system.
  2. DO engage in postures and activities that promote balance and strength. Whether you do bird-dogs on all fours extending opposite arm and leg, or yoga postures that require balance, as long as you do them near a wall, these will promote good posture and make you feel more aligned.
  3. DO functional strength movements to support your expanding hips and belly. Your center of gravity shifts, often your pelvic can shift too, and you are carrying a significant amount of extra weight. Light strength training can help prevent postpartum incontinence and back pain, and get you back to exercising sooner.
  4. DO swim or go for brisk walks. One of my clients even walked around the house with ankle weights. The extra amount of blood during pregnancy also means that you carry more oxygen which is a natural performance booster. Some experts believe that the reason elite athletes bounce back stronger post pregnancy is because they had 10 months of building a fitness base with all that extra blood.

PREGNANCY FITNESS DON’TS

  1. DON'T lie on your back for extended periods of time. Many health practitioners that teach classes don’t pay attention to this number one rule of prenatal fitness. Lying on your back can cut off blood supply to the baby so your hips should be elevated when you do.
  2. DON'T engage in any exercises that could cause slips, trips and falls. This one seems common sense, but you may feel so great earlier in your pregnancy that this may not cross your mind. Especially during the first trimester, the risk of miscarriage is heightened as the baby implants itself in the uterine wall.
  3. DON'T do deep twists, backbends or overstretch. Your ligaments and joints loosen during pregnancy. To ensure fewer problems postpartum like, pelvic instability, sciatica and hyper mobility in the joints, be ok with saying no. Pregnancy is not the time to prove that you can push your body. Remind yourself and if need be your teachers.
  4. DON'T begin a new endurance regimen. If you didn’t run or spin before pregnancy, now is not the time to start a strenuous routine because you fear weight gain (let’s be honest) and over exert yourself in a new sport.

I hope this advice is helpful for you and would love to hear the weirdest thing you believed or heard about exercising during pregnancy. Tell us in the comments.

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Time-saving formula tips our editors swear by

Less time making bottles, more time snuggling.

As a new parent, it can feel like feeding your baby is a full-time job—with a very demanding nightshift. Add in the additional steps it takes to prepare a bottle of formula and, well… we don't blame you if you're eager to save some time when you can. After all, that means more time for snuggling your baby or practicing your own well-deserved self-care.

Here's the upside: Many, many formula-feeding mamas before you have experienced the same thing, and they've developed some excellent tricks that can help you mix up a bottle in record time. Here are the best time-saving formula tips from editors here at Motherly.

1. Use room temperature water

The top suggestion that came up time and time again was to introduce bottles with room temperature water from the beginning. That way, you can make a bottle whenever you need it without worrying about warming up water—which is a total lifesaver when you have to make a bottle on the go or in the middle of the night.

2. Buy online to save shopping time

You'll need a lot of formula throughout the first year and beyond—so finding a brand like Comforts, which offers high-quality infant formula at lower prices, will help you save a substantial amount of money. Not to mention, you can order online or find the formula on shelves during your standard shopping trip—and that'll save you so much time and effort as well.

3. Pre-measure nighttime bottles

The middle of the night is the last time you'll want to spend precious minutes mixing up a bottle. Instead, our editors suggest measuring out the correct amount of powder formula into a bottle and putting the necessary portion of water on your bedside table. That way, all you have to do is roll over and combine the water and formula in the bottle before feeding your baby. Sounds so much better than hiking all the way to the kitchen and back at 3 am, right?

4. Divide serving sizes for outings

Before leaving the house with your baby, divvy up any portions of formula and water that you may need during your outing. Then, when your baby is hungry, just combine the pre-measured water and powder serving in the bottle. Our editors confirm this is much easier than trying to portion out the right amount of water or formula while riding in the car.

5. Memorize the mental math

Soon enough, you'll be able to prepare a bottle in your sleep. But, especially in the beginning or when increasing your baby's serving, the mental math can take a bit of time. If #mombrain makes it tough to commit the measurements to memory, write up a cheat sheet for yourself or anyone else who will prepare your baby's bottle.

6. Warm up chilled formula with water

If you're the savvy kind of mom who prepares and refrigerates bottles for the day in advance, you'll probably want to bring it up to room temperature before serving. Rather than purchase a bottle warmer, our editors say the old-fashioned method works incredibly well: Just plunge the sealed bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes and—voila!—it's ready to serve.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on Comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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9 products that will help baby sleep better (and longer!)

For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

How do I get my baby to sleep? This is one of the most commonly asked questions among new parents, and it makes sense, given that babies are born with their days and nights mixed up. For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

And while that might not exist (yet), we have found some of the best products out there that can help baby fall asleep faster and for longer durations. Because when baby is sleeping, so are you!

Dreamland Baby weighted sleep sack and swaddle

Designed by a mama, parents swear by this weighted sleep sack. It mimics your hug to give your baby security and comfort that helps them get to sleep faster and stay asleep longer. The detachable swaddle wing makes it easy to transition as they grow.

It's also super easy to get on and off, and includes a bottom-up zipper for late night changes, so you don't have to wake your baby in the process.

$79

Yogasleep Hushh portable sound machine

Yogasleep hushh sound machine

With three soothing options, this is a perfect solution to help your baby settle when naps are on the go and during travel! I love how compact this noise machine is and that it can run all night with one charge.

$30

Bebe au Lait muslin crib sheets

Burt's Bees Organic Crib Sheets

With a variety of print options to choose from, these breathable sheets are *so* soft and smooth, even through multiple washes. The luxury fabric keeps little ones warm without overheating—a formula that helps ensure more sleep for everyone.

$32

The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

You know what's going to help baby have their best sleep ever? Some quality, super soft pajamas. The timeless (and aptly named!) Perfect Pajama from The Simple Folk are some of our favorites. They last forever and they're made from organic pima cotton that is safe on baby's precious skin. They come in a wide range of sizes so siblings can match and feature fold-over hand covers on sizes up to 12 months.

$37

The Snoo bassinet

Snoo

Designed by expert pediatrician and sleep guru Dr. Harvey Karp, the Snoo bassinet gently rocks your baby to sleep while snuggled up in the built-in swaddle. Not only does it come with sensors that adjust the white noise and movement based on your baby's needs, there is also an app that allows you to adjust the settings directly from your phone.

While this item is a bit on the expensive side, there is now an option to rent for $3.50 a day, which is a total game changer!

$1295

Hatch Baby Rest sound machine + nightlight

best baby sound machine

The Hatch Baby Rest is a dual sound machine and nightlight that will grow with your family. Many parents use this product with their infants as a white-noise machine and then as a "time to rise" solution for toddlers.

The thing I love most about this product is that the light it gives off isn't too bright, and you can even select different color preferences; giving your toddler choices at bedtime.

$59.99

Crane humidifier

Crane Humidifier

The only thing worse than a sick baby is a baby who is sick and not sleeping well. The Crane humidifier helps take care of this by relieving congestion and helping your baby breathe better while sleeping.

Personally, I think the adorable design options alone are enough of a reason to purchase this product, and your child will love watching steam come out of the elephant's trunk!

$46.99

Naturepedic organic crib mattress

Naturpedic Lightweight Organic Mattress

In the first few months of life, babies can spend up to 17 hours a day sleeping, so choosing a mattress that is safe (read: no chemicals!) and comfortable is incredibly important.

Naturepedic uses allergen-friendly and waterproof materials with babies and children in mind, making them easy to clean and giving you peace of mind.

$259.00

Happiest Baby sleepea 5-second swaddle

best baby swaddle

There are baby swaddles and then there is Sleepea. Similar to the brand's swaddle that is built into the Snoo, the Sleepea is magic for multiple reasons. First, it's got mesh panels ensuring baby never overheats. Second, the zipper zips from the top or the bottom, so you can change the baby's diaper in the middle of the night without ever waking them. Third, it's hip safe. Fourth, the patterns are SO cute. And fifth, the interior swaddle wrap that keeps baby's ams down has a "quiet" velcro that won't wake baby if you need to readjust while they're asleep.

$27.95

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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