About me and the stretching I did during pregnancy

Name: Dana
Age: 26
Height: 175cm
Location: Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia + Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada
Education: Qualified Personal Trainer

When did you start yoga/stretching? / Have you always been flexible?

I have been an advocate for stretching for many years.  I first felt the benefits of stretching when I was a young competitive swimmer and did a specialised swimming clinic with State Coaches.  Then, during my teenage years as I competed in swimming, running, triathlon, and cycling I began to develop my own stretching routines.

So even though I was not specifically stretching to become flexible it was a by – product and has given me a sound base from which to develop.  Having said this, my sister (@elle_fit) was never flexible and she has gained her flexibility in her 20s by starting and maintaining a stretching routine.

What do you recommend for beginners?

I always suggest starting slowly and gently – which is what my guide is designed for. During pregnancy is not the time to push oneself. Even though I was already stretching I still checked with my health care team to make sure I was not putting my unborn baby or myself at risk.

How long do you practise each day?

During my first trimester I was quite ill and only able to complete 10 stretches at anytime.  In my second trimester I was feeling great and completing up to 40-50 stretches at a time.  In my third trimester, however, I was only able to complete a maximum of 15 stretches at any one time.

What other exercise do you do?

As a fitness instructor and long term active person I have been involved in a number of sports and recreational activities.  During my pregnancy I kept going to the gym 2-3 times per week.  I also went swimming, walking and Stand Up Paddle boarding.

Do you follow a set routine?

The only rule I have is to do something active everyday!
However, I always try to stretch, mainly because it makes me feel better.

Are there any exercises, stretches I should not do whilst pregnant?
Did you change the types of exercise you did whilst pregnant?
How early can I start stretching?

Every pregnancy and every person is different so it is essential to check with your healthcare professionals first.

During my pregnancy, I tried to stretch daily but I modified most of the stretches and exercises I did and did not push myself overly hard – so not too rigorous. At the gym I stopped lifting heavy weights and changed to lower weights with more repetitions (when I could) and didn’t do bouncing or jumping type activities.

After the first trimester it is suggested that you don’t lie flat on your back as this can put pressure on the major vein call the vena cava.  In my second and third trimesters, I would elevate my right hip using a pillow or rolled up towel when I did stretches on my back and I avoided being on my back for long periods of time.

Other types of stretches I avoided throughout my pregnancy were – inversions, deep backbends, intense forward folds, extreme twisting and stretches lying on my stomach.    

What if I haven’t stretched before being pregnant?

Before starting any stretching during pregnancy check it over with your healthcare professionals. Many healthcare professionals advocate exercise and stretching during pregnancy as long as there are no medical contraindications – but care should be taken and over stretching or pushing oneself too hard should be avoided.

How did stretching help you during pregnancy?

During my pregnancy I experienced both morning sickness and horrible back pain. Although I was able to access amazing therapists (e.g. Chiropractors, Massage Therapists, Bowen/Emmett Therapists) I needed something to do at home as well.  Setting aside at least 15 minutes of an evening, listening to relaxation music, and stretching using the stretches in my guide, I believe helped me both emotionally and physically. Not only did I maintain and gain flexibility, I was able to manage what at times was debilitating back pain.

After pregnancy (postpartum)

I am still using my eGuide and expect to for at least six months - you can read more in my blog post Why I still use my "Pregnancy Stretching" eGuide postpartum.

Need any other questions answered?

email hello@activewithd.com

With love