Women's Health

Exercising in Pregnancy

Exercise is crucial in pregnancy. Movement in pregnancy supports circulation of your blood, increases oxygenation of your cells, tonifies your pelvic floor, helps the body eliminate toxins, keeps your bowel movements regular (aka avoids being constipated), balances hormones, stimulates secretion of neurotransmitters and hormones that make you feel good, balances your blood sugars, tonifies your nervous system, helps you cope with stress, and so much more!

Women are often scared into not exercising when they are pregnant for fear they will overdo it and hurt the baby. You can most certainly exercise safely throughout your entire pregnancy. And your baby’s health will be better because you got in all that nourishing movement!

Exercising Safely during Pregnancy

As a general rule, pregnant woman can maintain their exercise level that they had prior to becoming pregnant. If you are a morning jogger, keep hitting the pavement. If you like to play tennis on the weekends with your gals, continue to show up at the court. If you like to get your movement by dancing around the house while doing chores, dance away my friend.

Or if you don’t have a regular exercise routine, pregnancy is the perfect time to start. Start slow to give your body time to build muscle and strengthen your heart and blood vessels. This could be going for a walk for 5-10 minutes per day or practicing a gentle yoga flow for 30 minutes or biking on a trainer for 20 minutes, or swimming laps at your local pool. Find something you enjoy doing and do it everyday; increasing the duration and/or intensity until you find a sweet spot where you get your body sweating and increase your heart rate.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) states, “physical activity does NOT increase your risk of miscarriage, low birth weight, or early delivery”. They also recommend that pregnant women exercise for at least 30 minutes 5 days a week of moderate-intensity aerobic movements.

With all this being said, there are a few exercises to avoid or at least be aware that they may be dangerous to do while pregnant. Contact sports or sports that entail a risk of falling should be avoided due to the risk of getting hit in the belly. Exercising in extreme heat and humidity is also generally not recommended. Unless you are used to high altitudes, exercising in high altitudes or even the potential for low oxygen states with scuba diving should be avoided.

A Pregnant Body Just Isn’t The Same

In pregnancy, your ligaments (which hold your joints together and provide limitations for excessive movement) become more relaxed. This relaxation of your ligaments is caused by relaxin and progesterone that your ovaries and placenta create an abundance of in pregnancy. It is important to be aware of this while pregnant because your joints will have more mobility and the risk of injury becomes higher.

It may be obvious, but pregnancy also throws off a woman’s center of gravity. Even in activities you are used to doing, this change can throw off your balance and put more stress of your joints.

As your uterus grows bigger, laying on your back can put pressure on your inferior vena cava, which is a blood vessel that returns blood to the heart. When practicing yoga or other forms of exercise that require you to be on your back, be aware that you can squish this inferior vena cava which disrupts blood flow to the heart.

As a pregnant woman, your body is putting a lot of its energy into growing a human. You may find that as you exercise, you tire more quickly or don’t have the energy to go as long or as intense as you did before you got pregnant. This decrease in energy is normal, but there are also lots of things you can do to increase your energy in pregnancy as well.

Your heart also works harder in pregnancy because it has a whole other being to oxygenate and bring blood flow too. When exercising during pregnancy, your heart rate will increase faster than it did prior to pregnancy.

Nourishing and Hydrating your Precious Body

When you are moving your body, you should also be cognizant of staying hydrated to nourish all your cells, increase muscle repair, and prevent dehydration. You may even want to add a bit of salt to your water to replace any electrolytes lost through your sweat. To do this, add a pinch of salt to a glass of water. Your water should taste more robust, or like it has more body to it, but should not taste salty (if it does taste salty, you’ve added too much salt).  

A pregnant body already has an increased demand for macro- and micro-nutrients to nourish the baby. Add exercise on top of growing a human inside of you and you’ll need to make sure you are eating enough calories and getting enough nutrient dense food in your diet every day.

Exceptional Women

If you have complications in your pregnancy, such as placenta previa, cervical insufficiency, preeclampsia, or severe anemia, talk to your health care professional about what movements are safe for you. We should all be moving in some way while we are pregnant. A sedentary life should never be an option.


Listen to your body. You know your body and your capabilities better than anyone. Pay attention to when your body is telling you to decrease the intensity of the exercise or when your body is craving movement after a sedentary day. Listen to your body and then make changes with your exercising that take into account what your body is trying to tell you.

If you feel like you need more guidance, talk to your health care professional about how to get in nourishing movement during your pregnancy!

Women's Health

Living in Line with Your Menstrual Cycle

Our bodies, hormones, and physiology undergo a lot of changes throughout our menstrual cycle. But we often ignore these changes and live our lives the same way regardless of what part of our cycle we are in. Fortunately, there is a lot we can do with nutrition and exercise to support our hormones and body changes throughout our cycles.

During menstruation (3-7 days)

  • Eat warming, nourishing foods, such as cooked veggies (the more colorful the better), soups, stews, oatmeal.
  • Healthy fats, like salmon, avocados, nuts, seeds, olives, olive or avocado oil, are great for reducing inflammation and help you to create healthy hormones! Fats are also the body’s fuel of choice during lower intensity exercise which is what you should aim for while menstruating.
  • Drink lots of water, maybe even adding in some ginger or chia tea.
  • Engage in gentle forms of exercise, such as going for a walk, stretching, and yoga. Lifting weights is also a great form of exercise during menstruation because you have a higher amount of testosterone and more ability to build muscle mass.  
  • Spend time journaling, reading your favorite book, taking a bath, or doing breathing exercises.
  • Allow your body to get a good night’s sleep everynight!

During the follicular phase (7-10 days)

  • Continue to eat lots of veggies, but add in more plant-based proteins, such as beans, lentils, nuts, and seeds.
  • Engage in exercises that raise your heart rate and challenge your body. This could be HIIT training, lifting weights, running, dancing, and cycling.
  • Spend time in creativity and be social.

During luteal phase (12-15 days)

  • Eat 1 cup of cruciferous vegetables per day to help support the increase in progesterone during the second half of your cycle. Examples of cruciferous veggies are broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, asparagus, arugula, turnips, kale, and radishes.
  • Focus on eating foods that are high in magnesium, such as steamed spinach, black beans, almonds, pumpkin seeds, quinoa, oatmeal, avocados, cashews, and dark chocolate.
  • Root vegetables are another great food for luteal phase because they help you connect to the Earth and feel grounded.
  • Your metabolism tends to increase during the luteal phase which increases your body’s breakdown of protein and ability for the body to use fat as fuel. So, make sure you are still eating plant-based protein sources and healthy fats!
  • Go for a barefoot walk
  • Continue exercising, just a bit less intensely than during your follicular phase.
Women's Health


There is so much to love about progesterone! Progesterone is a hormone in the human body that plays a huge role in fertility, helps us to feel calm and at peace, and modulates our immune system!

Progesterone and Fertility

After a woman ovulates, progesterone levels begin to rise to create the ideal environment for the growth of the potential embryo. Think PROGESTerone, PRO GESTastion. This increase in progesterone tells the hypothalamus (nicknamed the “master gland” of the brain) to increase the temperature set point of the body. This higher body temperature is necessary for the embryo to begin its development. The uterus gets signals from progesterone to thicken its lining and to inhibit uterine smooth muscle contraction to allow for implantation of the embryo.

Progesterone and Our Mood

Progesterone is so much more than just a fertility hormone by helping us to keep us feeling calm, cool, and collected. It does this by stimulating our GABA receptors. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter which means it quiets the body and balances all the stimulatory input we are constantly exposed to our lifestyles. With the sensations of calm, we are able to experience feelings of safety and love. Every time our bodies become stressed, we shunt the building blocks that are supposed to be making progesterone into the pathway that makes cortisol instead. In doing so, stress creates more cortisol and less progesterone making it hard to feel peace and calm. Doing things in our everyday lives that actively reduces our stress, helps the body to create more of our peace-giving hormone, progesterone.

Progesterone and Autoimmune Conditions:

Have you ever heard that people with inflammatory and autoimmune conditions often get better during pregnancy? This is due to the higher levels of progesterone the body naturally creates during pregnancy. An increase in progesterone acts to modulate the immune system, so the body is less likely to create an immune response to the growing placenta and baby. Even when a person isn’t pregnant, increasing progesterone levels through nutrition and botanical medicine can act to decrease the inflammation in their body and reduce the impact the autoimmune condition is having on their body.

4 Ways to Start Increasing your Progesterone Levels:

  • Discover what is making you stressed and find a way to reduce that stressor. If it cannot be reduced, find the best way your body can release that stress, whether that’s breathing exercises, yoga, exercise, spending time with the ones we love, cooking, reading a book, etc.
  • Incorporate foods into your diet that increase progesterone levels. These include broccoli, cauliflower, kale, spinach, brussel sprouts, cabbage, whole grains, nuts, pumpkin seeds, and beans.
  • Increase intake of foods high in Vitamin B6 and Vitamin C as these are both vitamins that your body uses to make progesterone. Examples of foods high in these two vitamins are bell peppers, citrus fruits, dark leafy green vegetables, berries, avocados, salmon, tofu, sweet potatoes, bananas, and pistachio nuts.
  • Sleep at least 8 hours every night AND sleep enough to ensure that your body, mind, and spirit feel well rested in the morning upon waking up.
Women's Health

Fertility Awareness Method: Understanding Your Cycle

When I first learned about the Fertility Awareness Method, I was blown away by the signals our bodies gives us each month to let us know when we are fertile and not fertile. By learning more about these signals and how to recognize them, we can gain a deeper understanding of our bodies. With this newfound awareness, we can begin to make smarter choices about when to engage in sexual intercourse to become pregnant or avoid pregnancy.

The “Normal” Menstrual Cycle

When most women think of their menstrual cycle, they think of the 3-7 days they bleed every month. But there is so many more components of a menstrual cycle that happen in our bodies each month. In the beginning of our cycle, known as the follicular phase, follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) stimulates about 15 eggs to begin maturing in our ovaries. As these eggs mature within follicles, the follicles secrete estrogen and the estrogen stimulates a large surge of luteinizing hormone (LH) to be released, as well as giving cervical fluid more fertile qualities. The most mature egg actually penetrates the wall of the ovary and is released in the abdominal cavity to be swept up quickly by the fallopian tubes. The follicle of which the egg was released from then becomes the corpus luteum which starts to produce progesterone in the luteal phase of the cycle. Thinks of progesterone as “pro-gestation” because it acts to increase fertile cervical fluid, thickens the uterine lining to allow the fertilized egg to implant, allows your cervix to become soft and your cervical os to increase in diameter to allow sperm to enter the uterus, and increases your temperature. The luteal phase typically lasts for 12 to 16 days. If the egg is not fertilized and did not implant into the uterus, the woman will have her menstrual period, which is the shedding of the uterus lining. If the egg is fertilized and does implant into the uterus, it will release human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) which will signal the corpus luteum to continue to secrete progesterone to create the appropriate conditions for the baby to grow and develop.

Fertility Awareness Method (FAM)

FAM relies on having a good understanding of your own menstrual cycle and tracking the following three signs of fertility:

Cervical fluid:

  • After your menstrual period, your cervical fluid will be dry. As estrogen increase in the follicular phase, the cervical fluid will go from dry to sticky to creamy to a stretchy, clear, and lubricative consistency which is often called “egg white cervical fluid” based on its similarity in characteristics to raw egg whites. This stretchy, clear, and lubricative cervical fluid is an indication that the woman is fertile since it is produced around ovulation.
  • You can notice these changes on your underwear, on toilet paper, or just by the sensation in your vagina. The sensation of fertile cervical fluid will be wet and slippery.

Waking temperature

  • You can begin to track your morning basal body temperature by placing a thermometer underneath your tongue immediately upon waking; before getting out of bed or drinking water.
  • Before ovulation, a women’s basal body temperature will likely be around 97 to 97.7 degrees Fahrenheit. Within 24-48 hours after ovulation, a women’s basal body temperature will rise above 97.7. The temperature will stay elevated for the duration of the luteal phase due to the increase in progesterone. Therefore, a rise in basal body temperature will indicate that a woman has already ovulated.

Cervical position

  • The cervix actually changes position and qualities as the menstrual cycle progresses. When a woman is not in her ovulatory phase, the cervix is firm, lower in the vaginal canal, and has a more closed cervical os. As a woman enters into her ovulatory phase, her cervix becomes softer, higher in the vaginal canal, and has a more open cervical os.
  • You can check the qualities of your cervix at the same time everyday. This helps you to understandnand feel how it changes throughout your cycle.

Now that you know the signs of when you are fertile and have ovulated, you can begin to learn the timing of your menstrual cycle. It is helpful to keep a chart every month recording all of these signs you are tracking. After keeping track for 3-6 months, you will have a deeper understanding of when you are fertile and not fertile to help you navigate when you should have intercourse depending on if you want to get pregnant or avoid pregnancy. It is also important to note that sperm can survive in fertile cervical fluid for 5 days, whereas an egg can only survive for up to 24 hours after ovulation.

Have fun applying the Fertility Awareness Method into your lives and learning more about your beautifully functioning body!