Getting Fit During Pregnancy With The Belle Method

We speak to Nikki Bergen, fitness instructor and Labour Doula about getting active while you are expecting

After 20 years of dance experience, it was in rehabilitating her own knee injury that Nikki discovered the healing powers of Pilates, creating greater strength of body and movement. Today she is a sought after Stott Pilates Instructor, Can Fit Pro Instructor Trainer, Pre/Post Natal Fitness expert, Labour Doula and—since  graduating from the Pink Ribbon Program in 2011—a Breast Cancer Rehab Specialist. Combining her intuitive understanding of the body and a wealth of formal fitness certifications, Nikki has created three exercise programs designed specifically for women: The Belle Method, The Bump Method and The Pink Method. 

Q: What sparked your interest in pre and postnatal fitness?

I have always had an interest in helping women during their pregnancies to be healthy and active but I was especially intrigued to learn more when I noticed there was a major gap in information surrounding pre and postnatal fitness.  More and more women are choosing to wait until they are in their 30’s to start their families - which is often considered a “high risk” pregnancy and it doesn’t have to be. There is too much fear surrounding pregnancy and I want to minimize some of that fear through knowledge.

Q: You have a series of four fitness videos available for sale on TheBelleMethod.com. What should our readers expect to learn from your full Pre & Post Natal Fitness Videos?

Each video is dedicated towards each trimester. The First Trimester video is focused on coping with many common first trimester symptoms as well as a focus on breathing properly. This is the perfect time of pregnancy to connect with the deeper layer of abs – the transversus abdominis. The Second Trimester is all about stabilizing your hips and preventing future postural changes. The Third Trimester centers on managing discomfort, strengthening your shoulders and back for breastfeeding and prepping for delivery. Finally the Fourth Trimester is the 12 weeks after your baby has arrived and it is dedicated to postural realignment and restoring your core through rehabilitative exercise.

Q: Lets talk a little bit more about “Restoring your Core” - I find many women suffer from incontinence during and after pregnancy as well as Diastasis Recti. Can these be avoided or rectified?

They most certainly can. Every woman and every pregnancy is different.  In the videos, we demonstrate the importance of exercises designed to minimize intra abdominal pressure during and after pregnancy. This helps to avoid diastasis recti, a condition where the abdominal tissue becomes over stretched leading to unsightly "mummy tummy" and a dysfunctional core after giving birth. I also provide a detailed description of the Pelvic Floor and how to perform effective kegel exercises for the front, middle and back portion of the pelvic floor. Kegels are much more than just holding your pee and releasing it. Proper pelvic floor exercises will save you the agony of incontinence.

Q: If you could offer our readers your #1 Tip. What would it be?

Be kind to yourself. A fit pregnancy does not have to be stressful, it is about preparing your body for the changes your going to experience and then safely rehabilitating your body back to where you started. Finally, I highly recommend to all women to seek a Pelvic Health Physiotherapist to assist in the rehabilitation of the pelvic floor after labour.

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