Friday, January 3, 2014

Huffington Post: Live Segment How to Stay in Shape During Pregnancy

I was asked to join HuffPost Live!

Watch me on the Huffington Post with 2 other Fitness experts talk about how to stay in shape and exercise safely during Pregnancy. For more information have a look at my new blog on the main website: Ten Tips To Stay in Shape During Your Pregnancy

Sunday, December 15, 2013

New Upgraded Fit2BirthMum Program for 2014!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Pregnancy Exercise- Its a Must!

Image F2B #2 (250x236)
You already know that you should work out – but we often need reminding of all the benefits especially during our pregnancies when it can often feel very hard to get up and get moving!

I know how hard it can be to actually continue to exercise during pregnancy despite all the benefits but in saying that exercising is absolutely the best thing that you can do for your unborn baby, in fact there is no women who shouldn't be exercising unless a medical condition prevents her.

We know that exercise is good for your brain and your body, your self-esteem and yes even your sex life,  it can even calm your nerves and reverse disease.

Now released last month, researchers are learning that the benefits of exercise may apply to your developing baby. Two studies presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience suggested that those who exercise during pregnancy could be giving their unborn child a neurological advantage, you are going to have a smarter baby!

One study followed a group of 18 pregnant women, starting in their first trimester, assigning eight to a sedentary group and 10 to an active one, in which they were asked to exercise at least 20 minutes a day, three times a week. Eight to 12 days after the women gave birth, researchers fitted the newborns with electrodes that measure brain activity in response to various sounds – an established test for memory, says Dave Ellemberg, a neuroscientist at the University of Montreal and one of the study's authors. Indeed, the newborns of active moms showed "more mature, more effective brain patterns," he says.

"What we found out is that there's this amazing transfer from what the mother does onto her child," he says, adding that moms-to-be can give their kids "a kickstart even before they're born." The team plans to follow up with the children when they're 4 to 6 months old to see how development progresses.

 "Our research indicates that exercise during pregnancy enhances the newborn child's brain development. "While animal studies have shown similar results, this is the first randomised controlled trial in humans to objectively measure the impact of exercise during pregnancy directly on the newborn's brain.

In the past, women would be advised to take it easy and rest during pregnancy. Now it is widely accepted that too much inactivity can be harmful both to mother and child.

Co-author Professor Daniel Curnier, a sports and exercise scientist at the University of Montreal, said: "While being sedentary increases the risks of suffering complications during pregnancy, being active can ease post-partum (after delivery) recovery, make pregnancy more comfortable and reduce the risk of obesity in the children. Given that exercise has been demonstrated to be beneficial for the adult's brain, we hypothesised that it could also be beneficial for the unborn child through the mother's actions."

If exercising for just 20 minutes 3 times a week can produce these amazing benefits for your unborn child then I know Mums will set out to achieve this and that this amount of exercise time is achievable even for the busiest of Mums. How to fit in your weekly exercise.

Another study, which used rats, found that the male offspring of rats that exercised during pregnancy had better object recognition as adults. This showed the potential of exercise to leave "long-lasting effects on the behavior and the cognitive function of the offspring," says David Bucci, an author of the study and professor of psychological and brain science at Dartmouth University. (Bucci was so surprised by the results that he had them triple-checked by the graduate student running the study.)

There is still more research to do, but these studies may help to refute the popular and mistaken belief that when it comes to exercise, pregnant women should exercise extreme caution.

"There's been a legacy forever of pregnant people being somehow equated with eggs, that their shell is very fragile" and thus, "the baby is easily broken," says Roger Harms, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Mayo Medical School and editor of the "Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy."
To the contrary, there's no evidence that exercise would harm a baby and the health benefits for the mum-to-be are well-established, he says. As Harms sees it, exercise provides a kind of insurance for mothers to better rebound from the added weight and stress of new motherhood.

"If you've already taken a hiatus from your exercise during pregnancy, you are probably going to have a hard time getting started again for the rest of your life," he says.
But if people manage to exercise through the challenges of pregnancy, "the odds are pretty good you'll be able to overcome many of the impediments that are more social than physical after the baby is born that keep people from exercising." What's more, he says exercise helps provide "better energy for labor and delivery and all of the trials that come at the end of pregnancy."

Exercising during pregnancy is now a must, join our Fit2BirthMum program to exercise safely during your pregnancy and get fit for Birth!

More Benefits for Baby of Exercising Mums

Lorraine Scapens is the founder of she has more than 20 years’ experience in the Fitness Industry. 
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, information is used as guide. You cannot hold Lorraine liable in any way for any injuries that may occur whilst training.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Weightlifting During Pregnancy- Is it Safe

More Controversy yet again surrounding women exercising during pregnancy!

There is huge debate over this women weightlifting. Compare this to what there was with Zara Phillips horseback riding and still competing just a few months ago!

I have wrote many guides on exercising during pregnancy and what you should do to train safely during your pregnancy:-
Horse Riding
Trimesters Guide: First Second Third

Should we be concerned for the health of this woman and her baby?

I think not, this women is an experienced weightlifter and it is her third pregnancy, I would assume she knows her body and her limits. I know as a mum of 3 myself that she will hopefully not push herself beyond her individual limits as her baby is much too important to do that.

Lea-Ann Ellison has been lifting weights for a number of years and I am sure she has modified her weights to suit during her pregnancy. Every women is different what looks hard and extreme for some is actually easy and moderate intensity for others.

The majority of the photographs that I have attached here she has excellent form and technique. There is no excessive hyperextension of the lumbar spine and she is not swaying her back putting pressure on weakened abdominal muscles.*

Some of the articles that have been wrote about Lea-Ann will make many women fear lifting weights and this is very misleading  Here is one example:

Yes women can lift weights, the average toddler is 12kg+! This is what really annoys me when doctors advise not to lift weights. As mums we have to lift weights not only our kids but the average basket of wet washing would be 10kg!

Holding breath to lift a could be deprived of oxygen I'm sorry but one of the safest exercises recommended to pregnant women is swimming where you hold your breath for longer than any lift would take you!

Your waters will break due to pressure? Exercise has not been proven to induce labour- Dr James F Clap III MD

 This weight looks like an 8kg Kettlebell a lot lighter than your average toddler! My clients swing weights like this 3 times a week during their pregnancies

 This is one of the exercises that I feel she is using too heavy a weight to maintain correct form and it is stressing her lower back muscles and obliques, she would be better off using a lesser weight for this one

 Perfect technique- no excessive lumbar extension of her lower back and Lea-Ann definitely doesn't look like she is straining herself. Without training I can easily press 30kg above my head with training I could lift heavier, remember what looks hard for one person is actually easy for another.

 Now I do not recommend Pull Ups during pregnancy. I did try during my third and they never felt comfortable I always found that they did put far too much pressure on the uterus. After 15+ weeks this exercise will increase diastasis recti-abdominal muscle separation and Lea-Ann has got separation of the abdominal muscles as I can assess this from the photographs. 
This separation may well have been caused by too much heavy lifting during her third trimester. I don't know how often she lifts and how much heavy lifting she does in each session. 

Personally I would never recommend this type of exercise in late pregnancy as it will increase diastasis recti. *Even with perfect technique this exercise stresses weakened abdominal muscles. There are many safe alternative exercises.

So is Weightlifting safe?
Yes it is but again listen to your own body and modify your training throughout your pregnancy. Lea-Ann is a very fit healthy mum, I do not recommend starting any new fitness regime during your pregnancy.
If you are weightlifting/CrossFitting I would suggest you change your lifts and weights as you progress into your third trimester. Read my guide to CrossFit during pregnancy if you are unsure: CrossFit

Please comment with your thoughts.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Twins Have Arrived!

Congratulations to Gemma and Jay!

The twins arrived safely via C section Tuesday 17th September 2013. We have followed Gemma during her pregnancy from the 7 week scan when they found out that they were expecting 2.

So what are they?......2 Beautiful GIRLS- Twin 1-6lb 1oz and Twin 2- 6lb 2oz.  I guessed the gender and exact weights of the girls correct! 

Gemma looks totally amazing soon after her operation and managed skin to skin with both her daughters to bond with them. How beautiful is the photo and how cute are they?

Skin to skin contact is possible with your baby after a section you just need to make sure you talk to your DR. on what you want post the birth and safe delivery of your little one(s). 

Lets hope Gemma recovers quickly, rests as much as she can whilst in hospital and that she enjoys being a first time mum! Gemma is managing to tandem feed already, go supermum

Look out for blogs following Gemma's recovery post the birth of her beautiful angels 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Twin Pregnancy- Third Trimester Exercise and Wellness

We have followed Gemma since April 2013 during her twin pregnancy! Now at 37 weeks the babies will be here very soon.

Throughout the majority of her pregnancy Gemma has been so lucky in that she has felt absolutely fine and had no sickness or fatigue. In fact it was only on her last personal training session with me just before the 34 week mark that she felt quite tired and was starting to feel a little uncomfortable, especially after 2 very busy weeks at work. This is amazing for a multiple pregnancy!

The following day she went into premature labour which took 48 hours to stop with medication.

Since then Gemma has made it to her C section date which is scheduled for tomorrow Tues 17th September 2013 and she will be just over 37 weeks!

It took the scare for Gemma to slow down and stop working as hard. I know just how hard it is to slow down especially when you are feeling so good during your pregnancy.  Many of my clients also feel this way especially if self employed you just don't stop, you can't and the downside is that you can't really switch off either. You must listen to your body you need to rest.

Gemma's exercise over the last 4- 6 weeks has reduced in both intensity and duration. She has managed 2-3 easy to moderate strength sessions each week.

Our focus during her training sessions has continued to be on preventing lower back and pelvis pain. 
We addressed changes in her posture as the weight of the babies pulled Gemma's pelvis into excessive lumbar extension and continuing to prevent pregnancy abdominal muscle separation- diastsis recti.

Here are 3 video's:
Third Trimester exercises- exercises to help you prepare for birth, prevent diastasis recti and lower back pain.

28 weeks

31-32 Weeks

33 Weeks 

34 Weeks- Easy Exercise

I met with Gemma just last week to catch up and see how she was feeling, if she was managing to relax and how she has coped with not doing anything. She had been sneaking in some bicep curls, tricep dips and side leg lifts, well done.

These exercises can help you recover post a section and would help maintain the glute strength we had been working on over the past 8 months.

Gemma looked fantastic and still couldn't believe that the twins would be here within the week. 

Having really slowed down the past 2-3 weeks she was now rushing around to finish things off and sure enough had had a few braxton hicks. The plan for the next few days was to completely rest and enjoy putting her feet up on the last weekend before her scheduled section. It was especially important that the babies didn't make an early entrance as her obstetrician was not on the weekend roster. Gemma did not want to risk the babies being delivered by a different Doctor.

Still NO diastasis recti either! So if you want to prevent diastasis during your pregnancy follow the exercises in the Twin Pregnancy Series and purchase your Fit2BirthMum program from my website:

Gemma will unfortunately have a diastasis post a section as the abdominal muscles need to be separated during the operation! But she had been gifted by a C section recovery belt to aid recovery and healing, thanks Abdomend.

 I am going to write a blog on Gemma's recovery and how the belt and the Birth2FitMum program help her recovery post the birth of her babies. I will also post baby photo's! 

I will finish this blog by wishing Gemma and her babies all the best for a safe delivery. Can't wait to see them and find out what they are!

The Twins Safe Arrival:

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Reduce Leg Fatigue, Varicose Veins and Restless Leg Syndrome during Pregnancy!

Do you stand up on your feet frequently during the day?

A Mum-to-be who just doesn't get the chance to sit down, sound familiar?!

If you are suffering with leg fatigue, muscle cramps, restless leg syndrome and varicose veins?
Wearing compression tights can actually help alleviate these frustrating pregnancy symptoms and it may be time to invest in a pair! 

It was during my second pregnancy that I started to notice my left calf muscle was sore. I wasn't exercising as much as I had been during my first pregnancy and I was on my feet ALL DAY.
I personal train clients 20-24 hours a week standing up around 90% of the time and this second pregnancy I had an 18 month old to look after who didn't sleep, like mother like daughter!
I don't know about you but second time around I couldn't just go home after work and put my feet up to relax and rest like I had managed first time!

 I was quite surprised at 20 weeks when I noticed veins which were very apparent and often sore in my left leg.  I was worried that they would be varicose veins and stick around forever!. They were uncomfortable and I certainly didn't want them to get any more painful. 

Varicose veins can increase with each pregnancy. It is not unusual for you to suffer with them in subsequent pregnancies even though you may not have had them during your first. Your veins are prone to this due to the pregnancy hormones relaxin and progesterone along with increased blood volume. 

Poor circulation is also a factor contributing to varicose veins and work and lifestyle changes in my second pregnancy decreased optimal blood circulation:

  • During my first pregnancy I only ever did 2 hours of clients in a row, now I was doing 4 or more clients back to back.
  • First Pregnancy I was exercising 1-2 times a day
  • I lived in my compression tights as this is what triathletes did.
  • I rested and put my feet up often.
I started wearing my compression tights again during the day and would wear lite compression tights in the evening and for a couple of hours at night.

The tights immediately stopped the soreness and if I wore them during the evening the veins would have disappeared by morning.
I also reduced the time on my feet by consciously sitting down more regularly when I was with my clients, making sure I had enough time to cool down properly after exercise and would stretch most evenings.
You also need to make sure that you are adequately hydrated to reduce these pregnancy symptoms.

I am sure that the compression clothing played a huge part in stopping the veins from becoming permanent varicose veins.

During my 3rd pregnancy the veins came back with a vengeance and looked much worse but again I managed to stop them aching and turning in to varicose veins by wearing the compression clothing, sitting down frequently and stretching during the evening. Stretching in the evening and light exercise can help reduce restless leg syndrome.

The veins in my legs had completely disappeared 2-3 weeks after giving birth.

Robyn at 32 weeks pregnant has worn compression tights every day, she has continued to work full time standing up all day and has only just stopped running. 

You can even wear whilst exercising: Robyn training with me at the gym 34 weeks

Compression tights help increase blood flow by improving venous return this can help prevent varicose veins, calf muscle cramps and reduce restless leg syndrome.

Compression clothing may also reduce fluid retention both pre and post pregnancy as studies have found that the fabric reduces muscle fatigue, swelling and muscle soreness.

Post birth they can also be worn to help recovery as they will help to reduce extra pregnancy fluid retention.

2XU are the market leaders in compression clothing and I would strongly recommend you invest in a pair during your pregnancy. Tights can be worn under clothing so are perfect for hairdressers or for women who work with small children and teachers.

If you are suffering with any of the above pregnancy symptoms then I would definitely recommend that you trial a pair of compression tights. You may have to go up just one size from your normal pre pregnancy size so that they last your entire pregnancy.

2XU Websites:
Auckland NZ

Research on compression tights:

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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, information is used as guide. You cannot hold Lorraine liable in any way for any injuries that may occur whilst training.