Suzy Clarkson has devised a practical guide to assist woman through their pregnancies at a later age. Clarkson had her first child at 39, and her second at 45. Her book is designed to help women over the age of 35 with the unique challenges of pregnancy at a later age. The key to Clarkson’s approach is to combine fitness with your pregnancy.
As Dr. Dereck Souter says in his introduction, “Pregnancy is an ideal time for a woman to start reviewing her lifestyle and diet to ensure not only a good pass in the test of pregnancy is achieved, but also that the basis of a healthy lifestyle is established.
The books provides a realistic, balanced exercise program for pregnancy, acknowledging that pregnancy can have a significant effect on energy levels and there will be both good and bad days.
CORE STABILITY AND POSTURE
Core stability and posture are inextricably linked. A strong, stable core enhances good posture. During pregnancy, how you hold yourself will naturally adjust to accommodate your changing shape and weight as your uterus and baby grow.
The relaxing and loosening effect of pregnancy hormones on your ligaments and joints also makes you more susceptible to sagging, poor posture. What was a small lower back curve, can become exaggerated as your tummy extends forwards. This can put extra strain on your already stretched abdominals and more stress on your spine.
Heavier, fuller breasts can cause you to round your shoulders and slump forwards, which in terms forces your chin to jut forward, placing extra stress down the back of your neck (cervical spine). Due to your increasing weight, you will probably stand with your feet apart for balance, and that in itself can apply different stresses to the hips and lower back. Core strengthening exercises will help minmize and alleviate the postural strain and stresses on your pregnant body.
Your spine has four curves, three moveable, one fixed. Beginning at the top, the concave curve of the neck moving down tho the slightly convex curve of the upper back, then to the concave curve of the lower back, and finally the fixed convex curve of the triangular bone that forms the rear wall of the pelvis–the sacrum. These curves are essential to the spine begin able to function well.
Good posture does not attempt to eliminate the curves; instead, it should eliminate any exaggeration. and aim for balance between them. Erect upright posture improves your health and wellbeing, your muscles function better, you are able to breathe deeper and your self-esteem will be boosted by a confident stance.
Be ware of how you stand, walk, sit and lift during pregnancy. A little care and self-correction in order to maintain good posture can really help you avoid discomfort. Not many of us have perfect posture to begin with, so if you have been out of alignment for years, then correcting yourself is going to initially feel weird. Correcting little and often, is the key,so every time you pass a mirror do a quick “self check and restack.”
STANDING SMART WHEN PREGNANT
Working down the body from your head to the feet, run through this postural alignment for good standing posture.
Chin tucked to that your eyes are looking forward, slid your chin back towards your spine (retraction), shoulders down and back, tuck your tailbone slightly under, feet hip distance apart, knees soft and not locked into extension. Finally, lengthen through your mid-section by extending the gap between your ribs and hips.
Try imagining a plumb line attached to the very apex of your skull and gently pulling you up a few centimeters. It is often not until you go through this checklist and restack your body that you realize how slumped you were. The next time you are standing in a queue at the supermarket or petrol station—stop, check and restack.
SITTING SMART WHEN PREGNANT
You may think that slouching on a couch is resting your body, but that is not the case when it comes to your lower back. Sloppy sitting puts a lot of pressure on the discs in your back; the spongy bits between the bony vertebrae. Lying applies the least amount of disc pressure; when standing the pressure is four times greater than in lying, but when sitting it is a whopping 16 times higher. That is why when you have a sore back, sitting is one of the worst positions to be in for any length of time, as any increased disc pressure can exacerbate discomfort.
However, sitting is something we do a lot every day and that’s not going to change, so here’s how to sit smart. Your anchor points are your sit bones (ischial tuberosities). Beware of sitting evenly on your sit bones, as the process of elongating and stacking your spine correctly starts right from the sit bones and continues all the way up to the top of your neck.
Be aware of maintaining the small natural curve in your lower back. Try using a small pillow, lumbar roll or rolled-up towel to help you maintain that natural lower back curve, and make sure you shuffle your butt to the back of the seat.
Then, “sit tall,” by lifting your rib cage away from your pelvis, creating a sense of elongation in your mid region. Finally, roll your shoulders back and won. Long car trips or plane flights can be particularly troublesome for backs, so if you are traveling for any length of time, use a lower back arch support as suggested above.
Many older women spend months, if not years, trying for motherhood, then endure an anxious pregnancy wondering if they are eating and exercising properly. Fitness expert Suzy Clarkson has been there. Her first pregnancy at the age of 38 was relatively trouble-free, but trying to get pregnant again a few years later was very different. Following fertility treatment, she finally gave birth to her second child at the age of 45.
Qualified in physiotherapy, Suzy has now devised a practical guide to assist older women through their pregnancies, using her own experiences of motherhood to support her text. This easy-to-follow fitness program will take you through each trimester, showing suitable exercises and suggesting how to develop healthy habits to achieve a safe outcome, a successful childbirth and a speedy recovery afterwards. The book is fully illustrated with step-by-step photographs showing the exercises in detail. The information she provides is based on the latest research, and is endorsed by leading specialists in obstetrics and fertility.
But the book is more than its exercises. Suzy is a ‘real mum’ who offers encouragement and a compassionate helping hand to all older mothers. Fit for Birth and Beyond is the guide you can trust and use with confidence.