Chillaxing with RELAXIN - What does this hormone do apart from make you super flexible in pregnancy?
Yep I know you thought I meant ‘relaxing’ - SORRY! - I bet that’s what you wish you were doing more of, and is definitely not going to be part of your life when you have a little one vying for your every attention. But please, sit down and relax for the 5 minutes it takes to read this little post on the wonder hormone RELAXIN and the part it plays in prepping your body for a smooth labour.
Feeling flexible throughout your pregnancy? This is part of the body’s amazing system that kicks in to help prevent premature childbirth and prepare itself for labour (splits and high kicks optional extra!). Have you noticed that you’re feeling a little more flexible in the joints during your pregnancy? It’s easier to reach your toes (if the bump wasn’t in the way!), your shoulders have a greater range of motion, and your knees easily fall out to the side when you’re sitting.
This is due to Relaxin, a really useful hormone that is secreted into the ovaries during menstruation and placenta when pregnant. It’s primary function throughout menstruation is to relax the uterus wall to inhibit contractions and prepare the lining for the egg. During the first trimester the levels of this hormone are really high - they help embed the egg and prevent premature childbirth by limiting the contraction of the uterus. Later in pregnancy Relaxin promotes the softening of the cervix and vagina to aid childbirth, as well as the ligaments in the pelvis. This softening enables the pelvis to move apart more easily for the delivery of the baby.
This amazing delivery of the best hormones for the body, exactly when they are most needed is a perfect example of the how the body adapts to birth and to nurture a baby, naturally, without the need for external stimulants (caveat: in a normal, uncomplicated ‘natural’ birth. Of course I fully advocate for medical intervention when it is needed in all cases, and without the amazing developments in medicine we wouldn’t have our brilliant survival rate for babies and mothers).
How does this relate to staying fit during pregnancy?
As MAMAWELL is concerned with all things fitness pre and post birth, this is definitely a point worth addressing as Relaxin is one of the major things to be aware of when exercising throughout pregnancy.
Be careful of swinging motions, for example if playing tennis or golf. Your shoulders, elbows and wrists will have much more mobility, which means less stability - therefore dislocation is fairly common.
Be aware when stretching. You will be feeling pretty great with all these hormones helping to grow your baby - and there is a temptation to overdo it. I was in yoga class and just amazed at how open my hips were and the ease with which I was able to get into the poses, something that has always been challenging for me. I forgot about the relaxin in my body, and totally overstretched which left me feeling not great the next day.
Take care of your ankles. It is common for women to twist/sprain their ankles with their joints being so much looser, so wear comfortable and supportive footwear.
The positives with Relaxin are sky high, so embrace your newly bendy body! But just be aware and remember: more mobility = less stability, your muscles need support and attention from you, but they will absolutely kick in and do their job when most needed during labour.
To train safely during pregnancy, try using a personal trainer - firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.