Getting the most out of your birthing ball! May 05 2016
Birthing balls are hugely popular with pregnant women, but many birthing balls just aren’t used to their full potential. Instead of actually exercising with the ball during the pregnancy period, too many women leave theirs in the package until they go into labour. Below we explain how to get the best out of your birthing ball.
Stay on the ball during pregnancy
The chances are that if you're pregnant, you either have, or maybe thinking of purchasing a birthing ball. If so that's fantastic news. There are several reasons why most midwives recommend them during pregnancy.
- Sitting on a ball will give you support while forcing you to use good posture. This will be welcome relief for your back, especially during the later stages of pregnancy. Balls have also been used to encourage baby to turn into the correct position, and can often help to make labour more comfortable for the mother to be.
- Because of this it's now usual for hospital maternity units to carry a stock of birth balls, although not usually enough for a busy night on the labour ward!
This is all great news, however what's happened to the benefits of actually exercising with the ball? That seems to be something no one in the baby industry, least of all the people buying the balls, know much about. Birthing balls are one of the best things around for exercising during pregnancy, and also for getting your figure and strength back after the birth.
So, Why are they so good? Because when you exercise on the ball, you have an unstable base, and that's totally different to exercising on the floor or a bench, both of which are firm and stable.
- The instability of the ball makes your body, and your core muscles in particular, work harder to keep you balanced, and in time these muscles will become stronger and stronger resulting in fewer injuries and less back pain. Also during pregnancy your centre of gravity is shifting on a daily basis, so that improvement in balance becomes very important.
Even when pregnant there are lots of exercises you can perform safely on a ball. Once you've been given the go ahead by your doctor (there are several contra-indications to pregnancy exercise, so you should always check with your doctor first), your workout should include exercises for your upper and lower body, your core and your pelvic floor, and also (as mentioned above) for your balance.
Before you start exercising you must learn to activate your transverse abdominus muscles (TVA).
These are deep muscles that comprise part of your 'core', and learning to control and strengthen them is necessary to help maintain good posture, alleviate back pain, and prevent injury. To find your TVA, lie on your back and put your fingertips inside your hip bones. If you cough, you’ll feel the muscles beneath your fingers twitch. That’s your TVA. To contract the TVA take a deep breath in, and then breathe out and at the same time pull your belly button in towards your spine. Those of you who've done any pilates will have done this before, and will have heard of the term 'navel to spine' many times.
When you've got the hang of this, try holding it for ten seconds while continuing to breathe. It will be tricky at first but once you've learned to 'fire and sustain' the TVA you will be able to switch it on any time you exercise, lift baby, or do anything else that requires effort.
On a serious note, if you want to use a ball during pregnancy you should always buy the 'anti-burst' variety. Some midwives I've spoken with have told me about cheaper, supermarket brand balls bursting like balloons during labour, and that doesn't bear thinking about. If punctured, an anti-burst ball will deflate slowly and not go pop. It's also important that you perform the exercises correctly in order to avoid injury, so get qualified instruction whenever you can. A quality product like The Miracle Box includes a good anti-burst ball with detailed teaching instructions. We shall be recommending some exercises for you to try out with your ball next month!
The Hows and Why's of Pelvic Floor Exercise January 26 2015
The Pelvic Floor
All women should perform pelvic floor exercises regularly, but it’s particularly important both during pregnancy and post pregnancy. Strong pelvic floor muscles can aid in childbirth, and also prevent or minimize embarrassing leaks when laughing, coughing, sneezing or lifting (stress incontinence is a billion dollar industry!). Pelvic floor exercises are also known as kegels, so if you’ve heard that name and wondered what it meant, now you know!
Your pelvic floor is made up of a sling of 3 muscles that connect the pubic bone at the front to the ‘sitting bones’ at the side and the tailbone at the back. This serves as a support structure for the contents of the abdomen and pelvis, including the bowel, uterus, and bladder. The extra weight of your growing baby makes these muscles work even harder and keeping them strong can help prevent incontinence and prolapse, and also aid in the birthing process. For these reasons pelvic floor exercises should be started as early as possible in the pregnancy.
Learning to isolate and contract your pelvic floor muscles is easy. Imagine urinating and stopping in mid flow and it will be these muscles doing the work. Aim to do it without clenching your bum if possible as this brings in another set of muscles entirely. It is important though that you don’t actually do your pelvic floor exercises whilst urinating, as this can lead to problems like bladder infections.
The great thing about pelvic floor exercises is that they can be done anywhere at any time, as only you know
you are doing them. The difficult thing is sometimes remembering to do them. To help with this try to associate them with different activities such as ironing, cooking, driving, or even having sex. After a while you’ll find yourself doing them automatically when performing these activities. They should also be performed every day, several times if possible. At first you may find it difficult and tire easily, but strength and muscle control should increase rapidly.
Squeeze and Hold
Squeeze/contract your pelvic floor muscles and hold for a count of 5 seconds. (Aim to build this to 10 seconds over a short period of time). Relax and rest for 10 seconds. Do 10 reps, several times a day.
The pelvic floor is made up of 2 different types of muscle fibres. Some respond to quick contractions and some to slow. This exercise is for the ‘quick’ fibres. Contract and lift the pelvic floor muscles as quickly and strongly as possible and let go. Gradually increase the speed of the contraction and the number of repetitions until the muscle tires. When the muscles are fatigued wait a few seconds to recover and start again. Aim to do this 10 times and repeat several times a day.
Try and visualise your midsection as a lift, then draw your pelvic floor upwards to the first floor and hold for 3 seconds. Breathing gently but without releasing the contraction, draw upwards to the second floor and hold for a further 3 seconds, then to the third floor for 3 seconds. Release and repeat several times a day.
Learning to relax your pelvic floor is very important too, so aim to relax the muscles slowly and under control during the exercises (except the speedums). This will help you during the birthing process. Performing these exercises whilst sitting on your birth ball will result in a stronger contraction.
Written by Mark Hibbitts and Martin Beckley personal fitness coaches specializing in pregnancy & postnatal exercise. Authors of The Birthball Handbook available from www.themiraclebox.co.uk at £9.99 including access to online Pelvic Floor DVD.
Ante and Postnatal running……Is it safe? January 23 2015
Ante and Postnatal running...Is it safe?
Of all athletes and fitness lovers, runners are probably the most dedicated. The thought of taking time off from training is often not an option, so pregnancy offers a dilemma. Can they continue running or not?
Well in most cases the answer is yes. If you are fit, healthy, and used to exercising regularly then there is no reason why you shouldn’t carry on with your normal routine. Old myths that stated ‘the jarring of running could hurt baby’ or ‘running may cause miscarriage or early labour’ have proved unfounded. In fact it is now known that in the absence of contraindications, there are some very good reasons for you to continue. Current research by Dr. James Clapp (2000) states that women who performed 45 minutes of weight bearing, aerobic type exercise on 5 or more days of the week throughout their pregnancy experienced improved well being, reduced constipation, reduced leg cramps and a quicker return to their pre-pregnancy weight than their non-exercising counterparts. There was also a reduced risk of gestational diabetes and pregnancy induced hypertension. Added to this, babies of exercising mums have been shown to have less body fat at birth and be less cranky, with a reduction in the instances of colic, and greater neurodevelopment in language and motor skills by the age of 5.
This is all good news for the pregnant runner, but on a more cautious note certain guidelines should always be adhered to. Your body experiences many physiological changes during pregnancy and your goal should be to maintain your fitness level and not increase it. Whilst competition can be motivating and challenging, serious racing will be off the cards for a while, and without question you must be prepared to reduce your distances. Your desire to run will most probably decrease as you become heavier and things become more difficult. During the second trimester, it is normal for most women to cut back the length of their runs by 30-40% and by the third trimester by up to 75%.
Maintaining good posture is essential as your shifting centre of gravity will make falling or stumbling a whole lot easier than usual, and the hormone relaxin that softens your tendons and ligaments to aid the birthing process, makes your joints more susceptible to injury. Because of this it is also necessary to be very careful when stretching, so only stretch through your normal range of movement and avoid any developmental stretching. Always remember that it’s the aerobic effect of exercise that is beneficial to you in pregnancy, so avoid interval training or sprints that may take you into an anaerobic state. Dehydration has been known to cause early labour, so keep well hydrated at all times and listen to the feedback from your body. During pregnancy there is no room for a ‘no pain no gain’ mentality and if you feel yourself hurting, getting exhausted, or overheating, you must stop straight away. If running does become too uncomfortable, then do look for another means of aerobic exercise such as walking, or possibly a stationary bike or elliptical trainer. Dr. Clapps research has shown that women who stopped exercising late in their pregnancy quickly lost all the benefits they had gained up until then.
Although ‘I’m eating for two’ is a great excuse for you to eat whatever you like during pregnancy, the recommendation is only for an extra 200-300 calories a day after the first trimester. That’s something like 2 slices of toast and a banana… ……per day. Women who run need more than the recommendation as exercise burns calories, although no studies have focused on exact requirements. The best thing is to listen to your body and don’t let yourself get hungry. Try and choose from nutritionally beneficial foods such as fresh fruit and vegetables, lean meat, poultry and fish, and wholegrain bread, pasta, and brown rice. Whenever possible avoid refined, processed foods that are full of additives, and have little or no nutritional value.
Other things you’ll need to consider may be some new kit. A good sports/maternity bra will be essential for comfort as your breasts will be expanding along with your bump. Your feet are likely to grow too, so some new running shoes may be in order later in your pregnancy. And finally, when planning your route, it’s always a great idea to know where the toilets are!
Running after the birth
Back in the 1980’s, Norway’s Ingrid Kristiansen won her first race less than two months after the birth of her first child, and much more recently Paula Radcliffe made headline news when admitting to starting training less than two weeks after an arduous 27 hour labour. Elite athletes such as these will always make the news, but stories such as this can be misleading and possibly even dangerous. The relaxin hormone mentioned earlier can stay in your body for several months and possibly as long as you are breastfeeding. This will not only have an effect on your joints, but also on your pelvic floor muscles, already weak from pregnancy and birth. Pounding the pavement too early after childbirth could result in stress incontinence or even prolapse, and this may need surgery to put right. In short, your fitness level at the time of the birth will determine how early you should start running afterwards. My advice would be to spend a minimum of a month enjoying your new baby and exercising your pelvic floor and other core muscles regularly before venturing out onto the open road. It will be pleasing to know however, that many women find their race results after baby substantially better than before!
Mark Hibbitts is a personal fitness coach specialising in pre and postnatal fitness. He is also founder and director of Newborn Fitness and a full member of the UK’s guild of pregnancy and postnatal exercise teachers. It is important that you consult your doctor/midwife before starting a pregnancy or postnatal exercise program. To read the contra-indications to exercise during pregnancy, the ACOG guidelines
Visit http://www.themiraclebox.co.uk/for more information
Great Xmas Present Ideas!! November 11 2014
Looking for some great Christmas Present Ideas?
The Miracle Box has many wonderful packaged presents for your loved one. Take a look below from baby changing bags through to innovative high quality buggy accessories.
Baby Changing Wallet: Available in Red or Black:
Secure Buggy Clips: The perfect buggy accessory for any mum or dad on the go
Maternity TENS: Drug free pain relief during labour.
Deluxe Buggy Lock: If you have a prized pram, maybe you need to secure it!
For many more great xmas presents take a look at the miracle box, great lifestyle parenting products
Opening Soon The Miracle Bag USA June 12 2014
Find out a little about the owners
Stacey - Founder and Owner
A little about me...
I am an active individual and work as a quality engineer in the automotive industry as well as being a certified fitness instructor teaching classes in the evenings at two fitness centers. I am a parent to two very active children (boy and a girl: Gavin & Kennedy). I also enjoy golf, family activities, exercising, soccer, American Football, and being in the outdoors. I have even jumped out of an airplane on purpose (skydiving).
My business Partner Matt and also my husband is a program manager for a global energy company he also enjoys golf, hiking, NFL (American Football), and anything that is fun and adventurous, he also has two boys Brandon and Matthew.
We also run and manage The Miracle Bag USA which is the exclusive distributor for the miracle bag and the miracle box range of lifestyle parenting products for both moms and dads. The miracle box is a successful UK family business, dedicated to developing and bringing to market unique, high quality maternity products for moms and dads.
We trust that you love and enjoy our products.
Stacey and Matt
Great New Lifestyle Parenting Products in!!! May 07 2014
The Miracle Box Brand just keeps growing! More new products have arrived this week in the UK. What a collection of amazing baby products! They have some really great products for mum and dads to help make their life that little bit easier.
New Baby Changing Wallet in Red, perfect for mums and dads on the go!! Only £19.99 from the miracle box
They also have matching thermal bottle holders in black and red! Keeps items such as bottles or food hot or cold for up to 4 hours. WOW!
Also New in is the Super Buggy Clip. The perfect accessory for any buggy or mummy. Only £5.99
Also to add to the Buggy Collection of accessoriess, which helps create additional space is our Saddle Bag for only £9.99 or two for £14.99
For all these great products plus more visit themiraclebox : They have a great collection of lifestyle parenting products.