Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Are You Suffering from Hip and Lower Back pain During Your Pregnancy?

You could have a Pelvic Instability.

This can be avoided and also addressed with specific pregnancy and post natal exercises. You do not need to be suffering from this condition during your pregnancy. It is avoidable!

What is Pelvic Instability?
Also known as SPD (symphysis pubic dysfunction), pelvic girdle pain, diastasis symphysis pain

Pelvis instability can be extremely painful or just mildly frustrating. It happens more commonly during pregnancy and post pregnancy due to the pregnancy hormones Progesterone and Relaxin.
These 2 hormones soften and loosen ligaments. This loosening of the ligaments needs to happen during pregnancy so you can give birth as it widens your hips. This is how the problems arise.
You have 2 joints in your pelvis. The Sacroiliac Joint in the centre of your pelvis and at the bottom of the pelvis is your Symphysis Pubis Joint. Muscles and Ligaments cross these joints.

Your pregnancy hormones cause the ligaments to loosen which makes them longer and weaker it also make the joints become unstable in your pelvis.
A small amount of movement is ok but too much movement causes increased pelvis instability which then leads to aches and pain.
Instability in the sacroiliac joint or the symphysis pubic joint can cause either SPD, sciatic pain or both. You can feel a number of pains and symptoms associated with Pelvis Instability:-

• Pain at the symphsis pubis joint- can feel like a hot poker type of pain
• Pain in the groin which radiates into your adductors (inner thigh muscles)
• Pain whilst walking and you can start to waddle during your 2nd Tri-mester
• Increased pain standing on one leg
• Pain and aches around your hip and lower back

Is this Avoidable and how can I avoid this?
With corrective exercise and good pregnancy posture you can help minimize pelvic instability.

Increased Pelvic instability is caused by weaknesses in your gluteus maximus and gluteus medius muscles; these are your hip stabilizing muscles. Many women suffer from weak ‘glute’ muscles as we just don’t use them! We sit down on them for long periods, have poor posture and adopt standing and seated positions along with carrying young children incorrectly which all increase muscle imbalances!

If you can increase the strength in these 2 muscle groups it will reduce the chances of developing lower back and hip pains associated with pelvic instabilities during your pregnancy and beyond. Strengthening the muscles at any stage during your pregnancy will be of great benefit. These exercises should also be performed post pregnancy to avoid pelvic instability post birth.

I advise and program the corrective exercises you should be doing during your pregnancy and beyond in the on-line Pregnancy and Post Natal exercise programs that I sell on-line at

Here are a some examples of exercises and stretches you need to do to reduce and prevent hip and lower back pain and discomfort:-

Stretch: I.T Band(illiotibial band)/ T.F.L (Tensor fasciae latae)/Quadriceps- These muscle groups are normally dominant and need to be stretched prior to strengthening the gluteus medius muscle to increase activation in the weakened muscle:

Side Lying leg lift:
Strengthens Gluteus Medius performed properly this is a great exercise. It is important that you feel the correct muscle engage and you don’t dominate the exercise using your quadriceps muscles (thigh muscles) Keep your pelvis vertival, avoid leaning back, try to keep your body straight. Take the leg back slightly placing your hand on the muscle you are trying to activate (gluteus medius). Do 2-3 sets of 8-10 lifts

Ballerina’s: Exercise to increase functional hip stability, increases gluteus medius and gluteus maximus strength. This is an advanced exercise and not done during the first stages of re-hab

Swiss ball glute Bridge: Increases glute strength do this during your 1st and 2nd Tri-mesters you should not feel this exercise in your lower back . Concentrate on pushing through your heels to engage your muscles correctly. Aim to do 2-3 sets of 10 reps

I have a full program guide and exercise description of these exercises and many more on my face book page:Pregnancy Exercise and all these exercises are included in the Pregnancy Exercise Programs available at

Poor Gluteus medius activation

If you have pain then you need to avoid lunges and walking until you have good muscle activation and hip control or avoid these exercises until post pregnancy. You still need to do the hip stabilizing exercises post birth before a walking program commences.
Exercise you can still do and enjoy with pelvic instability and discomfort that will not increase pain are cycling and swimming and you can do re-habilitation exercises 3-5 times a week along with a specific pregnancy or post natal exercise program

Positions that should be avoided:-

• Sitting with crossed legs-this increases a muscle imbalance and a weakness in the gluteus medius muscle
• Standing on one hip- again increases hip separation
• Carrying young children on one hip-as above-try to carry in the centre of your body and if you have to carry on one hip try to make sure that your hip bones are level
• Sleeping with no pillow support in-between your knees -read my article on sleeping positions during pregnancy for the best sleeping position to avoid hip instability:

Purchase a Pre & Post Natal Exclusive Video Link For Just $9.99nz
A 20min exercise video that shows you the exercise program you need to follow to reducle lower back and hip pain pre and post pregnancy:

Pre and Post Pregnancy Exercise Programs are also available to purchase from my website.

If you have any questions about this article please comment or Post on facebook:
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If you feel any pain or discomfort whilst exercising, stop. If pain continues consult you L.M.C or G.P. The information included in this article has been written by Lorraine Scapens: She is not able to provide you with medical advice the information is used as guidelines. You cannot hold Lorraine liable in any way for any injuries that may occur whilst training.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Low Iron Levels and Constipation during Pregnancy

Why this happens and what can you do to avoid these 2 symptoms.

2 Common Symptoms during pregnancy are low iron levels and constipation, and unfortunately suffering from low iron and supplementing to improve iron levels can make constipation worse!

Low Iron (fe) your ferritin levels
Ferritin is a protein in your body that stores iron.
An average women's diet in the developed world will provide approx. 12mg of iron a day of which 14-20% is absorbed. During your pregnancy you may need up to 30mg of iron a day. Both you and your baby now require more iron due to the extra blood volume needed to support your pregnancy and to help develop and grow your baby.
Iron is essential for making hemoglobin, ferritin is the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to cells. During pregnancy, the amount of blood in your body increases, you have almost 50 per cent more than usual. You need more iron to make hemoglobin for the additional blood that is now required during your pregnancy. Extra iron is required for your growing baby and placenta.

It is quite normal through the 1st half of your pregnancy not to need to supplement your diet with iron. However if you are a vegetarian, athlete or have been diagnosed with low iron levels in the past then you should get your iron levels tested more frequently and make sure your L.M.C knows about your circumstances. Ask them to test you more regularly.
If you are continuously tired, feel week and dizzy, have a more noticeably increase in heart-rate (not just pregnancy related) or have continued dark rings around your eyes then your iron levels could be low. If you think you are low in this mineral talk to your L.M.C don’t just take supplements without a blood test confirming an iron deficiency.

You can increase your daily iron intake by consuming more of the following:

● Red Meat - This is by far the best option for increasing your iron levels
● Dark Chicken meat
● Apricots
● Pine nuts
● Sunflower and pumpkin seeds

During my second pregnancy I was eating red meat 5-6 times a week!
Meat sources of iron are Known as Heme Iron this iron is more readily absorbed into your blood-stream than Nonheme Iron which is found in non-animal based foods. Too much wheat in your diet which contains phytates and lecithin’s can also reduce the absorption of the minerals iron, magnesium and calcium. Phytates block the absorption of these vital minerals.
During your pregnancy you need to change your diet to increase your daily iron intake increase red meat, reduce wheat intake and if you include a vitamin C food such as capsicums, oranges, kiwi fruit and grapefruit with your meals this will help assist the absorption of iron.

If you think you will be more prone to developing low iron levels have more frequent blood tests. I always insisted on at least 2 extra blood tests during my pregnancies. Get to know your iron levels, know the numbers this way you will know as exactly which end of the scale you are at:
Normal Ranges:-
Ferritin: 20-160 ug/1 ( I have been as low as 9 for ferritin)
Iron: 10-30 umol/1 ( I have been as low as 12 on this)

If diagnosed with low ferritin level and you have to supplement with iron try different brands, some brands cause less constipation than others. The liquid formulas usually work the best. When supplementing try to ensure that you go to the toilet daily, maintain exercise, good hydration and healthy eating which can all reduce the chance of you becoming constipated.

A common symptom of pregnancy is constipation. This condition can happen quite quickly and you may start to suffer from this from around 8 weeks.
Factors contributing to this symptom are the pregnancy hormone progesterone which causes your food to pass more slowly through your intestines. Your internal organs move up and to the left of your body making room for your growing uterus but less room for your intestines. Iron supplements can also increase constipation.

Exercise, staying active and hydrated can help reduce this uncomfortable pregnancy condition.

I found that exercising daily really helped me especially walking and running along with my addiction to one cup of coffee a day.

If you are constipated for 1-2 days eat foods that may help alleviate, prunes and kiwi fruit are probably the best. If this doesn’t help along with exercise you may need a supplement there are many brands on the market ‘phloe’ is popular, this is crushed kiwi fruit powder in a tablet and it is great for bowel health and keeping you regular, but you can ask your local chemist to advise. If you are still constipated after 3-4 days then you will have to see your G.P. Try to avoid this with good nutrition, hydration and exercise. This condition can be very uncomfortable, painful and dangerous; you can end up in hospital try to avoid it by doing what you can to prevent it!

If you have any questions about this article please comment or Post on facebook:

Visit my website; Email:

If you feel any pain or discomfort whilst exercising, stop. If pain continues consult you L.M.C or G.P
The information included in this article has been written by Lorraine Scapens: She is not able to provide you with medical advice the information is used as guidelines. You cannot hold Lorraine liable in any way for any injuries that may occur whilst training.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Can I Run During Pregnancy?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

How much Weight Should I put on During my Pregnancy?

This is one of the most frequently asked questions I get asked from many clients and customers

So what is the answer?
Well on average a women who exercises during her pregnancy can expect to put on anything from 8-16kg. A women who is not active or exercising may put on anything from 12-30kg which is quite a big difference.

Weight gain is varied
Now each women is different and each pregnancy is different. Some women like myself may only gain 1-2 kg in the first 20 weeks were as other women can put on an extra 5kg in the first few weeks!
If you have a very fast weight gain it will generally be fluid you can not increase fat stores this quickly. Some women can experience rapid fluid increases in the 1st or 3rd Tri-mester unfortunately there is nothing you can do about this. It is just how your body is coping with your pregnancy your body lays down fluid to protect itself during stressful times also food intolerance's can increase during pregnancy which may also increase fluid levels.

Reducing Extra Pregnancy Weight
You need to put on weight during a pregnancy you are growing a baby!Your boobs, baby, increased blood volume, increased fluids (amniotic) all weigh! And can be anything from 8-10kg so you have to expect this gain at least (unless you started off above your normal weight). If it bothers you your increasing weight don't get on the scales and put away your jeans!

There is no need however to put on extra weight it just makes your pregnancy harder to carry, can increase discomfort and increase aches and pains.
Maintain a healthy pregnancy weight by exercising moderately and eating healthy. Stay away from sugar and white, high glycemic carbohydrates, instead try to increase your vegetables protein and fat.

Any questions please comment
Visit for more info on pregnancy and post natal exercise and for pregnancy exercise programs that you can do at home.