The truth about prenatal exercise

5 pregnancy fitness myths, debunked!

The truth about prenatal exercise

Not too long ago, women were told to sit back and relax as soon as they found out they were pregnant. As an expecting mom, the idea of resting for 9 months may sound lovely, but it's likely impractical. Not only do you have keep on living your life, but staying active during pregnancy is very important to your health and baby's. According to the American Congress for Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) exercising moderately for 30 minutes every day (as long as your doctor gives you the okay) minimizes common pregnancy-related discomforts and health problems.

Even when you get your doctor's green light, there's no shortage of opinions about what is safe and what isn't, and there's a lot of fear than can make you want to not exercise. So to put your mind at ease and get you moving, we wanted to give you a little reality check on working out while expecting. Here are five common pregnancy fitness myths, debunked.


MYTH 1: If you did it before, you can do it now; but if you didn’t, now is not the time to start. Always consult your doctor before exercising, but whatever you did before getting pregnant (within reason) should be safe to continue. That said, your body is different now, and exercising may feel more difficult or may just not feel right. That's okay. Listen to your body and don’t feel like you need to push through just because you used to be able to do it. The good news is, if you weren’t active before you were pregnant, now is actually the perfect time to start. In fact, the real threat is inactivity, which can contribute to excess weight gain, gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, aches and pains and a higher risk for a C-section.

MYTH 2: Avoid core exercises. The risk here is that most standard abdominal exercises put too much pressure on the abdominal wall, causing it to separate at the midline - a condition called Diastasis Recti. However, it is important to continue to strengthen the inner most core muscles - your diaphragm and your transverse abdominals. An active diaphragm massages your organs and your baby as you breath, and strong TVA muscles support the baby and prevent overstretching of the abs, minimizing the post-baby “pooch.” Breathing through the diaphragm instead of your chest, and contracting your lower abdominals on the exhale is a simple and effective way to engage the core throughout your entire pregnancy. For more core exercises, click here.

MYTH 3: Avoid strength training. Pregnant women’s bodies are constantly changing and are at greater risk for injury while exercising. That's because the hormone Relaxin loosens your joints to prepare your body for giving birth. But when done correctly, strength training can actually keep your body strong and properly aligned, which not only can keep injuries at bay, but also preps you for labor and postpartum recovery. Your core, glutes and thighs are all active during delivery and in everyday activities, such as lifting the baby out of the crib, picking toys up off the floor and even getting in and out of bed. So practice diaphragmatic breathing and do squats and lunges -- it will get you in shape for all of that.

MYTH 4: Kegels are overrated. You hear a lot about kegels, but while they sound straightforward, there is still a lot of confusion around where they are and what their role is. I personally underestimated their importance, and after pushing out a 9 pound baby, I wish I had been a bit more diligent about them. Kegels are done by contracting your pelvic floor muscles, so imagine you’re going to the bathroom and then stopped yourself mid-pee. Those are the muscles you’re looking for. They help push the baby through the pelvis during delivery, and support the bladder, uterus and rectum, so you want them to be strong. The best part is you can kegel anywhere, and no one will know you’re doing it!

Myth #5: Keep your heart rate below 140bpm. It was long believed that pregnant women needed to keep their heart rate below 140bpm during a cardio workout to ensure their safety and the safety of their baby. Unfortunately, this rule caused lots of women to avoid cardio altogether, either not knowing how or not wanting to measure their heart rate. Thankfully, this rule is no longer enforced and instead, we opt for a looser translation to make sure women stay active. The “talk test” is an easy-to-remember and easy-to-implement test. All you need to do is make sure you can carry on a conversation while working out. If you find that there is no way you could talk comfortably while exercising, it’s time to take it down a notch.

Mom of a baby boy, Carolyn Tallents is a prenatal and postnatal health coach, focusing on nutritional needs for mom and baby, as well as safe and effective exercise from trying to conceive through the postpartum period. Check her website here.

These are only the vitamins I give my children and here's why

It's hard to say who loves these more—my kids or me.

When I became a mama five years ago, I didn't put too much thought into whether my son was getting the right vitamins and minerals. From breastfeeding to steaming and pureeing his first bites of solid food, I was confident I was giving him everything to support his growth and development.

But then the toddler years—and the suddenly picky palate that accompanied them—came along. Between that challenge and two additional children in the mix… well, I knew my oldest son's eating plan was falling short in some vitamin and mineral categories.

I also knew how quickly he was growing, so I wanted to make sure he was getting the nutrients he needed (even on those days when he said "no, thank you" to any veggie I offered).

So when I discovered the new line of children's supplements from Nature's Way®, it felt like a serious weight off my chest. Thanks to supplements that support my children's musculoskeletal growth, their brain function, their immune systems, their eyes and more, I'm taken back to that simpler time when I was so confident my kids' vitamin needs were met.*

It wasn't just the variety of supplements offered by Nature's Way that won me over: As a vegetarian mama, I'm the picky one in the family when it comes to scanning labels and making sure they meet our standards. The trick is that most gummy vitamins are made with gelatin, which is not vegetarian friendly.

But just like the other offerings from Nature's Way that I've already come to know and love, the children's supplement line is held to a high standard. That means there's no high-fructose corn syrup, gelatin or common allergens to be found in the supplements. The best part? My two oldest kids ensure we never miss their daily vitamins—they are so in love with the gummy flavors, which include tropical fruit punch, lemonade and wild berry.

Nature's Way Kids Mulitvitamin

Meanwhile, my pharmacist husband has different criteria when evaluating supplements, especially when it comes to those for our kids. He appreciates the variety of options from Nature's Way, which gives us the ability to rotate the vitamins based on our kids' daily needs. By keeping various children's supplements from Nature's Way on hand, I can customize a regimen to suit my kids' individual requirements.

Of course, high-quality products often come at a higher price point. But (to my immense gratitude!) that isn't the case with Nature's Way, which retails for a competitive value when compared to the other items on the shelf.

Like all mamas, my chief concern is supporting my children's health in any way I can. While I see evidence of their growth every time I pack away clothes they've outgrown, I know there is much more growth that doesn't meet the eye. That's why, for my oldest son, I like stacking the Brain Builder gummy with the Growing Bones & Muscles gummy and the Happy & Healthy Multi. My 3-year-old also enjoys getting her own mix to include the Healthy Eyes gummy. And both of my older kids are quick to request the Tummy Soothe tablet when something isn't sitting right in their stomachs.* And I'll admit it: I've tried it myself and the berry blast flavor really is tasty!

Although my current phase of motherhood may not be as "simple" as it once was, there is so much to appreciate about it—like watching my kids play and sing and create with their incredible imaginations. Along the way, I've eased up on some of my need for control, but it does help to have this range of supplements in my motherhood tool kit. So while I may not be able to convince my son to try kale, having the Nature's Way supplements on hand means I do know he's right on track.*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

This article was sponsored by Nature's Way. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.


Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!


Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.


Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.


Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.


Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.


Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.


Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.


Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.


Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.


Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.


Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.


Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.


Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.


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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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