When and How Should my Exercise Routine Change When Pregnant or Trying to Conceive?

Written by: Charlene Hagner M.Ac., Dipl. O.M., L.Ac.

It is important to move and get your blood circulating. In Chinese Medicine, movement facilitates the qi, and removes stagnation; it’s essential to keep the blood and qi moving for a healthy endometrial lining and pregnancy. It can be as simple as taking a daily walk for 20-30 minutes.

If you are regularly active, and have been staying on an exercise routine, it is safe to continue, but stay away from abdominal strengthening activities after ovulation (around cycle day fourteen) and with a positive pregnancy test. When trying to conceive and during pregnancy, yoga can be relaxing and helpful, but hot yoga can be counterproductive.

After an Embryo Transfer (FET), the reproductive endocrinologist asks the patient to rest the three days following, and keep their heartbeat under 100 beats per minute in the first 10 weeks after transfer. After the first trimester, the woman can return to her normal exercise routine, with the consent of her doctor.

Here are some of the benefits from exercise during pregnancy you may experience according to the American Pregnancy Association:

  • Helps reduce backaches, constipation, bloating, and swelling May help prevent, or treat, gestational diabetes.
  • Increases your energy
  • Improves your mood
  • Improves your posture
  • Promotes muscle tone, strength, and endurance Helps you sleep better
  • Regular activity also helps keep you fit during pregnancy and may improve your ability to cope with labor. This will make it easier for you to get back in shape after your baby is born.

You will probably want to avoid the following type of exercises during pregnancy:

  • Activities where falling is more likely
  • Exercise that may cause any abdominal trauma, including activities with jarring motions, contact sports or rapid changes in direction.
  • Activities that require extensive jumping, hopping, skipping, or bouncing
  • Bouncing while stretching
  • Waist twisting movements while standing
  • Intense bursts of exercise followed by long periods of no activity
  • Exercise in hot, humid weather
  • Do not hold your breath for an extended period of time
  • Do not exercise to the point of exhaustion  

You may want to include these basic guidelines in planning exercise during pregnancy:

  • Be sure to wear loose fitting, comfortable clothes, as well as a good supportive bra.
  • Choose well-fitting shoes that are designed for the type of exercise you are doing.
  • Exercise on a flat, level surface to prevent injury.
  • Eat enough healthy calories to meet the needs of your pregnancy, as well as your exercise program.
  • Finish eating at least one hour before exercising
  • Drink plenty of water before, during and after your workout.
  • After doing floor exercises, get up slowly and gradually to prevent dizziness.

Here are a few resources of trainers that work with women trying to conceive and during pregnancy.

Lindsey B. Cusey, Lindsey@fithappygirl.com - owner/online coach, certified personal trainer, and paleo nutrition specialist. Website- WWW.FITHAPPYGIRL.COM

Mckenzie Smalley, Mckenzie@fithappygirl.com - Personal Trainer, online and At home Training, and paleo nutrition specialist.

Steel Fit, Joe Steel, CPT jsteelfitness@yahoo.com

Yoga for Fertility and Conception

Which type of yoga class has the best possible benefits to aid fertility and conception? By Jaki Nett

—Kelly, Long Beach, California

Jaki Nett's reply: The type of yoga class that I recommend to aid fertility and conception is a restorative class—a class where the body, mind, and spirit learn the art of relaxation. A woman's desire to conceive can be overpowering and can drive her to the point of obsession. If this happens, sometimes logic is overlooked and stress becomes the foundation for coitus.

Since it is the woman's body and mind that has to be healthy and free of stress, it is her responsibility--with the unwavering support of her partner--to create the most favorable conditions for conception. To start the process both partners should have a comprehensive physical and psychological examination to determine that they are both without physical and mental conditions that could block conception.

To further alleviate stress about trying to conceive, start mapping your cycle of fertility. When entering a fertile time, start practicing restorative poses. As you practice, soften the abdominal area and begin to consciously remove tension from around the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries.

My teacher, Geeta S. Iyengar, author of Yoga a Gem for Women (Allied, Publishers Limited, 1983), writes extensively on women's issues. She stresses the importance of practicing several asanas to aid in conception. Salamba Sirsasana (Supported Headstand), Salamba Sarvangasana (Supported Shoulderstand) , and Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Supported Bridge Pose) are recommended because of their hypothesized effects on hormonal balance.

She also recommends the following poses:

Forward bends—To make the poses more restorative, place a chair in front of you and rest your head and arms on the seat for support, or use a bolster for support.

Reclining Poses—These poses are helpful because they open and elongate the abdominal area.

I also recommend Viparita Karani (Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose) after coitus (which will theoretically keep the sperm inside the body and close to the opening of the uterus) to encourage the opportunity for sperm penetration. Before coitus set up for Viparita Karani (Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose). As you move into and out of the pose, keep the abdominal area soft-your partner can assist you to make this possible. The amount of time you spend in Viparita Karani is up to you.

To set up for Viparita Karani: Fold a sticky mat into quarters and place it two inches from the wall. Place a round bolster or a firm folded blanket on top of the sticky mat with the back edge of the bolster or blanket in line with the back edge of the mat. Place the buttocks on top of the bolster with the sitting bones as close to the wall as possible and the legs up the wall. The tailbone should tilt toward the ceiling so that the vaginal area is pointing upward. The shoulders, arms, and head rest on the floor. Once in the correct pelvic position, allow the legs to soften and bend the knees to allow the abdominal and pelvic floor to relax.

Jaki Nett is a certified Iyengar Yoga instructor in St. Helena, California, and a faculty member of the Iyengar Yoga Institute of San Francisco. She teaches public classes in the San Francisco Bay Area and leads workshops in the United States and Europe, including specialty workshops on female issues. Written by: Jaki Nett

www.yogajournal.com

Blood Type O Linked to Fertility Problems

Researchers say having type O blood can affect a woman’s chances of getting pregnant.  Those with blood type O may struggle to conceive due to a lower egg count and poorer egg quality, while those with blood type A seem to be more fertile. Scientists from Yale University and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine have produced a study that finds patients with type O blood were at double the risk of diminished ovarian (egg) reserve than women of other blood types.

The researchers measured women under age 45 for levels of the reproductive hormone FSH.  Women with an FSH of greater than 10 are considered to have diminished ovarian reserves (egg quality and number of eggs left).  FSH levels greater than 10 suggest a woman will have more difficulty conceiving than those whose levels are under 10.

They then made adjustments for other fertility factors including age and BMI, then compared women’s blood types and FSH levels. Women with blood type A or AB were significantly less likely to have an FSH level greater than 10 than were women with types O or B blood.

In the U.S., 45% of the population is type O, 40% type A, 11% type B and 4% type AB.

FSH levels are just one marker of fertility and more studies are needed. Dr. Edward Nejat said, "A woman's age remains the most important factor in determining her success of conceiving.”

Higher FSH is simply the result of the pituitary gland trying to improve the ovaries' response. If you nourish and support your ovaries, they become more responsive to the pituitary gland's hormonal messages, it senses that less FSH is needed, and your levels will drop.

At ilumina we can help by increasing blood flow using acupuncture to improve blood flow to the ovaries; better circulation will improve the function of the ovaries, the follicles, and the eggs.  Chinese herbs can balance the hormones, which addresses underlying patterns of imbalance that can restore natural, balanced hormonal function.  By stimulating the body's own reproductive tissues at different parts of the reproductive cycle, herbal medicine offers a gentler, healthier, more organic response to fertility problems. When hormone levels are balanced, and when adequate blood flow, oxygenation and nourishment are provided during the follicular growth phase, women are more likely to become pregnant naturally with their own healthy eggs.