Danielle Haggar, Pilates instructor and founder of The Body Hub, runs pre and post-natal workshops in Dubai and specialises in abdominal reconstruction. She is also the first certified Yamuna Body Rolling (YBR) trainer in the region. She shares her Dos and Don'ts on how to stay healthy during pregnancy:
Do stay active
Danielle recommends 20-30 minutes of exercise a day. “Mindful movement and intelligent exercise is very important,” she advises, “Choose a place that is knowledgeable. Take it slow. If you’re not used to exercise, choose something low-impact. But do keep moving, go for a walk, go for a swim, explore – try to feel good in your body."
Do Take a holistic approach to fitness
“Any pre-natal classes should not just be about working out,” says Danielle, “but about how you feel while you are executing the movement. It’s not about following a sequence for the sake of it but about the brain/body connection and what is good for you as an individual.” It is also important to connect with your pelvic floor, she says: "The pelvic floor is complex and many women either over-train or undertrain it so try to find a certified pre-natal expert to help guide you.”
Don’t forget to breathe
“I do a lot of breathing because it is essential,” says Danielle “Before we begin, I get my clients to stop, close their eyes, connect and starting bringing in the fresh air, the oxygen, and feel where there is tension.”
Do eat mindfully
“It’s very important to be conscious of what you’re eating. When you are out for dinner, focus on the meal, what is on your plate? Is there a lot of colour? Are there greens? Listen to your body. Also, chewing is important.” And when it comes to cravings, Danielle says there are healthier alternatives to junk food and sugar. “I craved a lot of salt during my pregnancy and I ate a lot of crisps - but I made my own at home."
Don’t get attached to labels
Danielle, who had two natural deliveries and chose to forgo pain relief for the birth of her second son, says: “With my first child, I had an epidural but I still felt pain due to old back injuries but I was also bed-ridden. With my second, I could move around and that helped. Hypno-birthing classes really transformed the way I viewed the process. For instance, it taught me to stop using the word “pain”. And I tell my clients to do the same. Yes, contractions are intense but when I breathed through them, the intensity went down by 70 per cent.”
Go easy on yourself
“It’s ok to feel super fit and strong during your first pregnancy and not during the second,” says Danielle, “Women can sometimes beat themselves up. I say to my clients, you’re managing a million other things. The same applies to weight loss, don’t be in a rush. It took nine months to gain the weight it could take you nine months to lose it. And lack of sleep doesn’t help."