Am I walking too much?

“If I walk too much, will I give birth to a premature baby?”
“Am I having backaches and pelvic pain because I walked too much?”

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Walking with the family is a great way to de-stress

Someone told me she was worried about giving birth prematurely if she walked too much. I asked if she has had issues in her pregnancy so far, and she said no. Then I said, in that case walking is good for you and baby, so please walk more!

These questions are valid concerns and I’m glad these mums-to-be asked me for clarification rather than prescribing themselves more bed rest. Bed rest means less physical activity and less physical activity means more potential problems during labour. So less time on the bed/sofa and more time on your feet is one tip to help ease your labour.

Why is walking good for you? Here are 5 reasons:

  1. More opportunities of being outdoors with fresh air and vitamin D from the sun. Walking produces endorphins, or good feelings from your happy hormones.
  2. Walking is one of the best cardiovascular exercises during pregnancy. It is gentle and does not require equipment other than a good pair of shoes (no heels please!). It keeps your heart pumping and lifts your mood at the same time.
  3. You make your muscles, especially the psoas and the piriformis, work and condition them for labour.
  4. Being upright (gravity) helps get baby deeper down into the birth canal.
  5. It’s free!

So do I have to worry about a premature birth?

Unless you have other underlying medical issues, there is nothing to worry about, InshaAllah! You see, many factors come into play before labour can start. Firstly, baby must be in a good position, and is low or close enough to the cervix. Secondly, baby himself must be ready, and their lungs will secrete a protein to signal onset of labour. Thirdly, the cervix must be effaced (soft and thin) and dilated (open) to allow baby to pass through the birth canal. Fourthly (but not lastly), mum herself has to be in a ready state of mind. So don’t worry about giving birth too soon before baby or mum is ready, walk lots to have a smoother labour when it eventually starts at its own time.

But I feel that walking too much will cause me to have backaches…how?

Walking won’t cause you to have backaches, in fact mobility actually helps to alleviate aches and pains. If you’re feeling like walking causes you to have more pain, check:

  • if footwear is causing the problem (please invest in good footwear!)
  • if posture is good (chest out, belly out, shoulders not hunching and tuck your tailbone in)
  • are you drinking enough? Dehydration could be a major cause for muscle aches
  • do you have symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD)? (If yes, then there are strategies to help give relief)

Many degrees of walking

Of course, what kind of walking is best? Window shopping constitutes walking too, but is that helpful for labour? (Ans: Yes, but not much). The most helpful kinds of walks are those that encourage the pelvis to really move and open. Power walking is one example. Walking uphill or on a terrain is also good. And how much walking should be done?  Ideally you should walk as much as you sit. So if you spend 8 hours sitting in the office chair, it is good if you can also cover 8 hours of walking, though this sounds unlikely achievable.  But that is a rough measure of how much walking should be incorporated daily.

At the end of the day, you should be happy with the things that you hope to do. Start with a positive and open mind. Never do things feeling resentful which will end with you in tears and stress. Pregnancy should be a happy and worry-free period! Take a break and tune in to your body if you ever start feeling out of touch. Listen to what your body needs.

May you always be in Allah’s care!

-Hanani

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Risks of early induction

During a recent meet with a potential client, I was told that her doctor had given her a choice to be induced on the 11th of January 2011, so the baby can have a ‘nice’ birthdate of 11/01/11 about a week short of her EDD. Needless to say I was taken aback (but didn’t show my reaction of course). Shocked also because she talked so casually about it and seemed to be considering that offer.

Now, I am not judging any mothers who opted for induction. I have had several mothers myself who were either induced or labour augmented because they were overdue or had other high risk medical reasons. That is a different thing. What I am saddened about is when doctors make early induction offers to mothers who have had a good and healthy pregnancy, and make it sound as if it is the most natural thing to do. Now remember that these first time mothers know no better because their doctors don’t really discuss the medical risks that entail an induction.

So Bismillah, for my community’s sake, here’s why you should try to avoid an early induction as much as you can help it…

– You might think that there’s no difference between birthing a baby at 39 weeks and 40 weeks (especially when you’re so tired by that time and all you want is to get the baby out!), but just an extra week of baby being in the uterus can make a significant impact on baby’s lung and brain capacity. Now don’t you want the best headstart for your baby?

– Last few weeks of pregnancy are most critical to baby’s lung and brain development. Some complications that may arise for elective deliveries between 37-39 weeks include among others: increased NICU admissions, increased feeding problems (difficult to establish breastfeeding) and increased respiratory distress.

– I’d like to touch on pitocin (synthetic oxytocin) – the drug they give you to induce contractions – but that would take another whole blog entry. Briefly put, this articifial hormone, while it mimics your own, is very different from naturally produced oxytocin from your body because it does not cross your blood-brain barrier. Why is this important? When a contraction gets intense, natural oxytocin crosses your blood-brain barrier so another ‘pain-relieving’ hormone known as endorphins (also known as happy hormones) can be released as your body’s natural pain-killers. But with pitocin, you don’t get this same dose of endorphins to counter the pain and intensity, so most of the time, the mother will want an epidural~

InsyaAllah we will discuss about epidural soon! Comments are most welcome 🙂