I mean everyone knows when you get pregnant, you gain weight…so women should be prepared for that and accept it as just part of the process, right? Wrong! No matter how prepared you are for the changes that are going to take place in your body, it will more than likely still be a struggle. No matter how “natural” and “normal” the changes are, it’s a stressful aspect of having a baby. So as opposed to sitting in the closet crying, because you still can’t fit into your jeans a month after the baby is born, here are some tips to drop those pounds and stay healthy mentally and physically.
According to Farel Hruska who has over 16 years experience as a personal trainer and group fitness instructor,
“Rebounding from pregnancy and delivery is a process. You think that you should lose the baby weight and be back where you were before. Here is the reality of the postpartum woman: It took nine months to gain the weight, allow at least that long on the way back.”
Aside from gaining weight, several other changes occur in your body during pregnancy. Your joints loosen when a hormone called Relaxin is released. This is what helps your pelvis adjust for that growing baby, and just because that baby is no longer in your belly, doesn’t mean that your skeletal structure returns to its previous position. Your body also goes through muscular changes, such as a lengthened trapezius and tightened pectorals. In addition to these physical changes, caring for a new born can drain you of energy and lead to fatigue and muscle pain.
Exercising will probably be the last thing on your mind, but once you get into a normal routine you will see several benefits, aside from physical changes. According to Jennifer Wider M.D.
“Exercising after having a baby can speed a woman’s recovery time after delivery. In addition, a recent article in the journal Birth reveals that exercise can lessen the severity of depression in new moms. Other studies have also suggested that exercising can lower a woman’s chances of postpartum depression. Postnatal exercise can also increase a woman’s energy, which can be quite beneficial when she is exhausted by all the changes in her life”.
Exercise doesn’t have to be something complicated. One of the best forms of exercise is simply walking–or even better: Walking with a stroller!
A study by the American Council on Exercise showed that using a stroller burned approximately 18 to 20 percent more energy at 3 mph and 3.5 mph than walking without a stroller (on average 6.2 calories per minute and 7.4 calories per minute respectively)!
Schedule your workouts like you schedule your child’s doctor’s appointments. Write them down and don’t miss them. You can do at home fitness DVD’s, take long walks or do some relaxing yoga, while baby takes a nap. It’s all about setting your priorities, and in the end you won’t only feel better physically, but mentally as well.
Nine Months Off
Here are some month-by-month tips for getting back into shape after baby by Farel Hruska:
Focus on reconditioning your core–abdominal's and pelvic floor muscles–with gentle pelvic rocks and kegels. The pelvic floor can actually drop up to one inch just from pregnancy. These exercises can begin in the hospital bed (barring pain).
Start gentle walking. Start with a 5 to 15 minute gentle walk and slowly increase time and intensity. Exercise at this point should be stress relieving not stress producing.
Take baby out for a stroller workout. Include hills, intervals with changing your speed, and focus on good posture. Good stroller walking form includes leading with your chest, keeping hips close to the stroller handles, shoulder blades pulled back and down, abdominal's engaged and wrists in neutral alignment with the arm.
Use your baby as a weight and work out with baby. Try crunches with baby on your belly or hip bridge with he/she on your stomach as resistance. Even wearing the front carrier can be a workout. Try scapular retractions–pulling shoulder blades toward spine–with the weight of the carrier as resistance!
Even if you are not nursing, continue to eat as if your food is still fueling your baby. Chances are you’ll make better choices for your baby than for yourself. Remember to choose whole foods, fruits, and vegetables.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! You should be drinking eight 8 oz glasses of water a day. Add another glass for each hour of activity.
Make sure you are eating often enough…instead of a few big meals a day, try to eat five to six mini meals throughout the day.
Consistency is key. You should be working out 30 to 60 minutes on most–if not all–days of the week. It doesn’t have to be a traditional workout to count as activity.
You are a role model mom. Focus on health and wellness instead of a size or a number on the scale. Your children (especially your daughters) are watching and they understand sooner than you think!