News

Fitness

  • 5 Prenatal Exercise Myths Debunked

    Over the past three decades, research has shown an overwhelming benefits from exercise during pregnancy.  Unfortunately, when it comes to the specifics of exactly what type of exercise is safe or beneficial, the myths seem equally as overwhelming.  Here are some of the biggest myths explained to help you feel more confident about your ability to exercise for two!


    MYTH 1: If you were not a regular exerciser before, pregnancy is not the time to start.

    REALITY: The benefits of exercise during pregnancy are substantial – including decreased risk of gestational diabetes, fewer pains and complications during pregnancy, a potential easier labor, and a faster recovery.  Exercise during pregnancy has even been shown to improve your growing baby’s heart and brain development!  In fact, the benefits are so great that the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) now recommends that pregnant women get at least 30 minutes per day of moderate intensity exercise on most, if not all, days of the week. If you were not a regular exerciser prior to your pregnancy, start with simple activities at a moderate intensity that don’t require a big learning curve (walking is a GREAT one!).


    MYTH 2: When exercising, you should avoid getting your heart rate up over 140 beats per minute.

    REALITY: If you’ve heard this one, this is actually an outdated guideline from 1985 when very limited research existed about exercise during pregnancy.  This guideline was actually eliminated in 1994 after research proved that heart rate is NOT an appropriate gauge of exercise intensity when you are pregnant.  This is because there are so many other things going on in your body that cause fluctuations in your heart rate, so your heart rate is often not a true measure of how you really feel.  Today, the official ACOG guideline encourages pregnant women to exercise at a level that feels “moderate” to “slightly hard.”  This level is obviously very different for every woman, and will vary for you throughout your pregnancy.  The best way to gauge the appropriate intensity for your own body is to stay within a range where you feel you could still complete a full sentence out loud.  You don’t want to feel completely breathless.  So ignore those heart rate monitors and start listening to your body instead.  Odds are, if it feels OK, then it is OK!


    MYTH 3: You shouldn’t work your abs during pregnancy

    REALITY: This could not be further from the truth!  On the contrary, proper core training is one of the best things you can do to help alleviate back pain during pregnancy and prepare your body for an easier labor and faster recovery.  The key is to make sure you’re doing the right type of abdominal work.  After your first trimester, avoid exercises lying on your back, and those involving any bending or twisting of your torso (i.e. sit-ups, bicycles, oblique curls, etc.), as these exercises place too much pressure on your external abdominal wall, which already has enough pressure on it from your growing belly! Focus instead on strengthening your innermost abdominal muscle (transverse abdominis, or “TVA”), as this is the muscle that supports your back, and the muscle you use to push your baby out.  Your TVA is strengthened through the action of drawing your belly button into your spine.  One of the best exercises to target this muscle is a simple “TVA Hold.”  To learn how to perform the TVA hold, as well as other beneficial core exercises, see these 7 Moves for A Stronger Core.


    MYTH 4: You should completely avoid running or any higher intensity activity

    REALITY: Despite what you may have heard, you cannot “shake” your baby out of you!  As long as you do not have any joint or ligament issues, higher intensity exercises like running or interval training are typically fine to continue for as long as it feels comfortable.  If you were an avid runner or very athletic prior to your pregnancy, you may find you are able to continue your usual routine for a while into your pregnancy.  Just keep in mind that due to the increased amount of “relaxin” in your body (a hormone that makes you less stable in your hip and pelvic area), and your changing center of gravity from your growing belly, it becomes especially important to ensure you are using proper form.  You may also need to decrease your speed and range of motion.  Finally, as you progress through your pregnancy, your body will be working harder and harder on its own, so you will naturally feel the need to dial down your intensity level.  In short, as long as you follow the #1 most important rule of prenatal exercise, which is to LISTEN TO YOUR BODY (avoid exercising at a level where you feel breathless, and stop if you feel any pain, experience any bleeding, etc), you will be fine.  Your body is programmed to deliver a healthy baby and it will tell you if something you are doing is not safe.  


    MYTH 5: You should avoid strength training to prevent injury or joint pain

    REALITY: Actually, NOT doing any strength training is more likely to lead to aches, pains, pulled muscles, and even injuries.  Proper strength has been shown to decrease maternal exhaustion during labor by 75%, and decrease the need for a C-section or forceps by 50%.  It also prepares your body for the many physical demands of motherhood.  The most important muscles to focus on are your innermost abdominal muscle (see #3!), your pelvic floor (to prevent incontinence), your buttocks (to help support your back), your legs (for the many demands of motherhood), and the backside of your upper body (mid/upper back and backs of shoulders) to counteract the rounded-forward pull that often happens from the weight of your growing breasts and nursing.  Just remember that given the increased levels of the hormone “relaxin” in your body (which makes you less stable in the pelvic area), and your changing center of gravity caused from your growing belly, always prioritize proper form and alignment over heavier weights.  If needed, consult with a personal trainer, or even You Tube!  Also, try to choose exercises that keep your pelvis in a more stable position vs. unstable moves like deep lunges. This is why squats are one of the best prenatal exercise moves.  They strengthen all the most important muscles, keep your pelvis in a stable position, and heads up… you’ll be doing a lot of them as a mom!

    Medical Disclaimer:  This information is for healthy pregnant women with no complications or risk factors.  This content is for informational purposes only and not intended to offer medical advice.  Always consult with your doctor first before beginning any exercise program.

    ____

    Written by Brittany Citron, a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor, and a pre/postnatal exercise specialist. She is also the founder of PROnatal Fitness,  which offers prenatal and postpartum group fitness classes, personal training, and Diastasis Recti rehabilitation — all developed with input from experts in the fitness, medical, and healthcare fields.

    View Post

  • 7 Ab-Rehab Tips Following Delivery

    While it may seem like you will never get your abdominal muscles back after pregnancy, your muscles are actually quite resilient! With the proper rehab, you can absolutely get your core back to its pre-pregnancy (or better!) state. The great news is you can begin your core rehabilitation process as soon as you feel comfortable following delivery, and it is most likely easier than you think.  The following 7 simple tips can help significantly speed up your recovery following delivery, and get you on the right path to safely and effectively rebuilding your core!

      1. Avoid any sort of crunching or twisting movements: These movements place excessive pressure on your already weak outer abdominal wall, which could potentially lead to Diastasis Recti (a separation of the outer abdominal muscle), or worsen it if you have it. So yes, this means absolutely NO sit-ups for quite a while!  Beyond this though, try to avoid these movements in your everyday life.  For example, sit up tall and avoid slouching.  If needed, place back support behind you when seated (i.e. using pillows or blankets) to keep you upright, yet comfortable.  This is especially important when feeding your baby given the sheer amount of time you spend in this position each day!  Another tip is to remember to roll to your side first when transitioning from lying down to sitting up (and vice versa).  Finally, if you need to bend over, do so by bending at the hips – pushing your butt backward and softening your knees to bend forward with a flat back.
      2. Re-connect with your “inner girdle”:To effectively rebuild your core, start by focusing on your largest and innermost abdominal muscle – your transverse abdominis (TVA). This muscle wraps around your entire mid-section from your spine to the front of your abs (like a girdle), and is responsible for basically “pulling everything in” (AKA giving you a lean, flat waistline!), and supporting and stabilizing your back.  One of the most effective ways to begin rebuilding this muscle is by performing these simple, but effective techniques of Belly Breathing and TVA Holds.
      1. Kegels! Kegels! Kegels!The muscles of your pelvic floor form the “floor of your core” and are extremely weak after 9 months of pregnancy and any type of delivery (vaginal or C-section).  Weak pelvic floor muscles can lead to incontinence, bladder or rectal prolapse, and overall core instability.  Kegel exercises can be an excellent way to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles – if, and only if, they are performed properly.  Learn the proper way to perform Kegels HERE, and try to perform several sets a day.  Performing one set each time you feed your baby will help you get in plenty per day!
      1. Consider wearing an abdominal splintIn most cultures outside the U.S., it is actually common practice to use an abdominal splint for the first 4-6 weeks following delivery. A splint wraps around your mid-section, and places the stretched out muscle tissue of your abdominal wall in the optimal position to promote fastest healing.  It also helps to support and protect your back while your core is still too weak to do so.  There are many manufacturers of abdominal splints.  We recommend ones from The Tummy Team because they have a variety of splints to fit different needs and body types, and are also a good blend of being appropriately supportive and comfortable.
      1. Squat on the pot!This one may sound funny, but it’s important!  Weak inner core muscles can lead to intestinal issues, which can lead to difficult bowel movements, which most likely leads to forceful and damaging belly-bulging “bearing down.”  If you are having any sort of constipation issue, try placing an 8-12” stool beneath your feet to place your body in more of a squatted position.  This position opens up your colon and allows for easier waste excretion.  The Squatty Potty® can be an excellent tool for this because it adjusts in height, blends in with your toilet, and pushes back under the toilet when not in use.
      1. Get checked for Diastasis Recti: Diastasis Recti is a common condition that occurs in about 30% of pregnancies in which the excessive outward pressure from your growing belly causes your rectus abdominis muscle (or “6 pack” muscle) to partially or completely separate at your body’s midline.  Diastasis Recti can lead to a number of complications, including low back pain, hip or pelvic pain, incontinence, bladder or rectal prolapse, and what looks like a “pooch” in your belly.  Everyone has a bit of a separation in the immediate aftermath of labor, but it should close for most women within 4 weeks following delivery.  So, it is best to wait for a few weeks to check.  Ask your doctor to check you at your postpartum visit.  If needed, you can also perform a self-check.  If you do have it, it is best to correct it as soon as possible to avoid further core damage or injury, and also avoid complications in future pregnancies.  Seek out a physical therapist who specializes in this.  PROnatal Fitness also offers PROnatal Ab-Rehab — a one-on-one rehabilitation program designed to correct Diastasis and strengthen weak core muscles.
      1. Transition properly into core exercises once you are cleared:Once you are cleared by your physician to resume exercise, it is important to follow a proper core exercise progression.  Your core muscles need to be rebuilt from the inside out, beginning with the critical inner core muscles of your TVA and pelvic floor.  Try following the progression of these 7 Moves for a Stronger Core, making sure to master moves in one phase before moving onto the next.

      Brittany Citron is a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor, and a pre/postnatal exercise specialist.  She is also the founder of PROnatal Fitness, which offers prenatal and postpartum group fitness classes, personal training, and Diastasis Recti rehabilitation — all developed with input from experts in the fitness, medical, and healthcare fields.  Brittany lives in Manhattan with her husband and 3-year old son, and a little girl on the way!

      Medical Disclaimer:  The above information is for a healthy postpartum woman with no complications or risk factors.  This content is for informational purposes only and not intended to offer medical advice.  Always consult with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.

      RELATED POST

      View Post

    1. Relieve Sacroiliac Joint Pain During Pregnancy – PROnatal Fitness

      It probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise that back pain is the #1 most frequent complaint during pregnancy.  What you may not realize, though, is that there are actually different types of back pain, and understanding what type of pain you have is the key to appropriately addressing it – and getting some relief!

      Sacroiliac (SI) joint pain, one of two primary types of back pain during pregnancy, is actually a very common pregnancy pain that sometimes gets mistaken for lower back pain.  However, unlike the standard lower back pain, SI joint pain is felt lower – usually around the tailbone or upper gluteal muscles – and is typically felt only on one side.  Often the pain is worsened with long periods of walking or stair climbing, and can sometimes create a feeling of “getting stuck” when moving from a seated to standing position. In some cases, the pain can radiate into your buttocks, and even down your leg a bit.    

      What causes it: Your SI joint links your pelvis to your sacrum (the lowest part of your tailbone), and functions to help counteract the pull of your growing belly and resist that lower back arch. However, it’s job is made much more difficult by a little hormone called relaxin — a hormone that increases during pregnancy to basically “loosen up” all the ligaments in your hip and pelvic area to prepare your body for birth.  While this is certainly beneficial for delivery, it’s not so great for your SI joint because relaxin softens all the ligaments that hold it together — making it weaker and less stable.  Add to this the fact that your growing belly continues to pull harder in the opposite direction, and you can see how easy it can be for the SI joint to give, stretch, and possibly become hypermobile — which leads to pain.

      How to prevent or treat it: The following tips can help prevent and/or soothe SI joint pain:

      • Strengthen your inner abdominal, gluteal, and pelvic floor muscles!  This is really the most effective way to reduce SI joint pain.  These muscles help to stabilize your pelvic area (basically counteracting the de-stabilizing effect of relaxin).  So, the stronger these muscles are, the more stability you’ll have in your pelvic region, and therefore the less pressure you’ll place on your SI joint.  In addition to the Belly Breathing, TVA Holds, and Floor Bridges discussed above, incorporate proper Kegels for your pelvic floor.
      • Stay “symmetrical” when sitting and standing: It’s important to keep your pelvis in a stable and even position as much as possible, so avoid sitting with crossed legs and when standing, stand with weight evenly distributed on both feet.
      • Keep weight gain in check: Excess weight puts more strain on the SI joint.
      • Avoid aggravating movements: Pay attention to the actions and movements that cause pain, and try to avoid those movements. Moves that often aggravate pain are things like stair climbing, balancing on one leg (i.e. to put pants on), swinging legs out of bed or out of a car, lunges, running, or even long periods of walking.  Remember to try to keep your weight equally distributed and your pelvis in a stable position.  So, sit down on the bed to put your pants on, swing both legs out of bed (or the car) at the same time, and perform squats instead of lunges (just one more reason why squats are soooo good to do during pregnancy!

       

      Written by Brittany Citron, a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor, and a pre/postnatal exercise specialist. She is also the founder of PROnatal Fitness,  which offers prenatal and postpartum group fitness classes, personal training, and Diastasis Recti rehabilitation — all developed with input from experts in the fitness, medical, and healthcare fields. Brittany lives in Manhattan with her husband and 3-year old son, and a little girl on the way!

      RELATED POST

      View Post

    2. Safe Ab Work For Pregnancy – PROnatal Fitness

      Written by Brittany Citron, a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor, and a pre/postnatal exercise specialist. She is also the founder of PROnatal Fitness,  which offers prenatal and postpartum group fitness classes, personal training, and Diastasis Recti rehabilitation — all developed with input from experts in the fitness, medical, and healthcare fields. Brittany lives in Manhattan with her husband and 3-year old son, and a little girl on the way!

      Thinking you should avoid any sort of core work during pregnancy because of that bump? Actually the opposite is true. Proper core training during pregnancy can be the key to less pain and injuries during pregnancy, an easier labor, and faster recovery! There is a right and wrong way to train your core, though. Follow these tips to help you strengthen your core in the most effective way during pregnancy. Of course, as with any activity during pregnancy, always check with your doctor first!

      What to Focus On
      The key to proper core training during pregnancy is to focus on your innermost core muscles – with the #1 most important muscle being your transverse abdominis (AKA your body’s “inner girdle”). This muscle wraps around your entire mid-section — literally like a girdle — and is responsible for supporting your back (which means less low back pain!) and stabilizing your entire body (which means less chance for pregnancy-induced pains and injuries).

      It’s also the muscle you’ll use to push your baby out (which could mean an easier labor with less chance of needing a C-section). Beyond all this, the stronger your transverse abdominis (TVA) muscle is, the less likely you are to develop Diastasis Recti (a separation of the rectus abdominis muscle that can often occur during pregnancy).

      The other important core muscles to strengthen are the often forgotten muscles of your pelvic floor (AKA, the “floor of your core”). These muscles form a sling at the bottom of your core and are responsible for not only controlling when you pee, but also for holding up all your pelvic organs — including your uterus, which will expand to about 500 times its original size! Obviously your pelvic floor muscles get a great deal of pressure placed on them over 9 months, which can weaken them — leading to things like incontinence (that accidental peeing during coughing, laughing, or sneezing), or not-fun pregnancy pains like sacroiliac joint pain, sciatica, or pubic symphysis dysfunction. Strong pelvic floor muscles help to stabilize your hips and back, prevent pains and injuries, and of course, prevent that annoying accidental peeing.

      What to Avoid
      During your first 3-4 months of pregnancy, you can typically maintain any traditional abdominal work you had been doing prior to pregnancy, as long as it feels ok. However, once you begin to develop an obvious belly (usually around the 5th month), you should avoid the following 4 things:

      1. Crunching or twisting movements: These movements place excessive pressure on your outer abdominal wall and could increase your chance of getting Diastasis Recti. This means not only avoiding those sit-ups and crunches, but also avoiding crunching or twisting movements in your everyday life! So, try to remember to sit up straight (slouching is crunching!), role to your side first when transitioning from sitting up to lying down (and vice versa), and strive to keep your back flat when you bend over.
      2. Lying flat on your belly: Ok this is a pretty obvious one. You probably don’t need to be told this, as it would be pretty uncomfortable anyway!
      3.  Lying still and flat on your back: Your doctor has probably told you this one. You can always use a wedge or stability ball to place you at more of an angle.
      4.  Full planks (once belly is larger): Planks can be a great core exercise IF you have the strength to keep your core properly engaged (belly button drawing into the spine) the entire time you hold them.  If you perform planks without proper core engagement, they do more damage than good — putting a lot of strain on your back.  If you have good core strength, you may be able to perform full planks for a while into your pregnancy.  However, once your belly is large, it becomes extremely hard to engage your core in a full plank (not to mention your belly gets in the way!).  To modify, try placing your knees on the ground, or pull back to the All 4s hands and knees position.  HINT: When doing any abdominal work, be on the lookout for a vertical “torpedo-like” protrusion (almost like a mountain) down the center of your abdomen.  If you see this, this is a sign of Diastasis Recti, so you’ll need to pull back from whatever movement that causes you to see this (and instead focus on exercises #1 and #2 below!).

      Here’s one exercise to try now: Belly Breathing & TVA Holds.

      Before you begin any core work, it’s important to first master the technique of how to engage your TVA muscle (because any core exercise performed without engaging your TVA is ineffective at best, or potentially even damaging). To practice the technique of engaging your TVA, try this move (or actually combination of 2 moves).

      How to do it:

      • Sit up tall in a chair with your feet flat on the floor, shoulders rolled down and back.
      • Take a deep inhale through your nose, allowing your belly and your rib cage to expand with air (not your chest!). Then, exhale through pursed lips as you draw your belly button back in toward your spine as far as you can – staying lifted and tall.
      • Repeat this “Belly Breathing” technique a few times through slowly (taking 2-3 seconds to inhale and 3-4 seconds to exhale).
      • After about 5-7 slow breaths, take another inhale, but this time on the exhale, hold your belly button into your spine for 15 – 30 seconds. Continue to breathe lightly through your nose as you keep your belly button engaged and pulled into your spine.
      • Work to where you can hold this position up to 30 seconds. This is a “TVA Hold.” As these holds get easier, you can progress to doing them standing, and even while walking.

      For more details on this technique as well as a progression of 6 other highly beneficial prenatal and postpartum core exercises, try these moves for a stronger core!

      RELATED POST:

      View Post

    3. Top 10 Benefits of Prenatal Exercise – PROnatal Fitness

      Written by Brittany Citron, a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor, and a pre/postnatal exercise specialist. She is also the founder of PROnatal Fitness,  which offers prenatal and postpartum group fitness classes, personal training, and Diastasis Recti rehabilitation — all developed with input from experts in the fitness, medical, and healthcare fields. Brittany lives in Manhattan with her husband and 3-year old son, and a little girl on the way!

       

      There is a reason the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) now recommends that pregnant women get at least 30 minutes per day of moderate intensity exercise on most, if not all, days of the week.  Because the benefits – both for you and your baby – are HUGE!  Besides the obvious benefit of reducing your risk of excess weight gain, here are 10 more reasons that should make you want to lace up those sneakers, put on that (supportive) sports bra, and get moving!

      1. You’ll feel less nauseous and more energized during the day…and sleep better at night: Women who exercise during pregnancy report fewer symptoms of nausea. In addition, exercise has been shown to stimulate energy levels, elevate mood, and counteract feeling of stress, anxiety, or depression during pregnancy.  It has also been shown to promote better sleep at night.
      1. You’ll significantly reduce your chances of getting gestational diabetes: Pregnant women who have never had diabetes before, but who develop high blood sugar levels during pregnancy are said to have Gestational Diabetes. This occurs in nearly 10% of pregnancies.  In addition to putting the mother at a greater risk of developing diabetes later in life, it can also cause the baby to put on extra weight, particularly in the upper body (a condition known as macrosomia).  This may increase the need for a C-section, and puts the baby at increased risk for low blood sugar and breathing problems after birth.  In addition, they are more likely to be overweight or obese as children and are at higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes during their adult years.  Research has shown that women who participated in recreational activity within their first 20 weeks of pregnancy decreased their risk of gestational diabetes by almost half.
      1. You’re less likely to experience low back and other orthopedic pain: The weight of your growing belly puts a lot of increased pressure on your low back and pelvic area. Strengthening exercises for your inner abdominal and pelvic floor muscles (like walking, swimming, Kegels, and abdominal exercises involving drawing your navel into your spine) provide stability and support for your spine to reduce low back pain.  They also help to support your growing uterus and pelvic organs to prevent them from painfully weighing down on your hip and sacroiliac joints.
      1. You’re less likely to have issues “down there”: The weight of your growing uterus and pelvic organs puts increased pressure on the muscles of your pelvic floor, and can lead to things like incontinence (involuntary loss of urine) and even prolapse of the bladder, rectum, or uterus (meaning they sink down into the vaginal or anal area, essentially turning “inside out.”)  In addition, high levels of progesterone loosen the walls of your intestinal tract, which can lead to increased constipation.  Exercises to strengthen your inner abdominal and pelvic floor muscles (like walking, swimming, Kegels, and abdominal exercises involving drawing the navel into the spine) improve the functioning of the inner core muscles to better support your pelvic organs and therefore help in preventing these issues and in keeping things (appropriately) “running smoothly.”
      1. Your legs will look and feel better: During pregnancy, your blood volume increases (up to 40% by your 3rd trimester), but often circulation becomes poorer due to increased weight gain and elevated levels of progesterone (which loosen the walls of your veins). This can result in leg cramps, varicose veins, and even deep vein thrombosis (blood clots in deep veins).  Exercise improves circulation to help prevent these conditions.
      1. It could make labor easier: Weight-bearing and appropriate core strengthening exercises have been associated with a significant decrease in the duration of second-stage labor, a 75% decrease in maternal exhaustion, a 50% decrease in the need for forceps or C-section, a 50% decrease in the need for oxytocin, and a 50% decrease in the need for medical intervention due to fetal heart-rate abnormalities.
      1. You’ll bounce back faster after delivery: Women who exercise regularly during their pregnancy return to activities of daily life 40% faster than those who did not.This means you’ll be better able to carry out the many physical demands of early motherhood (squatting, bending, lifting, carrying, pushing, etc…) with less chance of injury or pulled muscles.  It also means you’ll be able to more quickly get back to your pre-pregnancy shape.  Studies have shown that postpartum weight retention for women who did not exercise during pregnancy is 3 times higher than women who exercised throughout their pregnancy.
      1. It could help you give birth to a healthier baby: Women who exercise regularly experience a more rapid growth of the placenta and improved placental function, thereby improving oxygen and nutrient delivery to the baby. Exercise has also been associated with babies born at healthier birth weights who are less stressed by labor and have slightly higher Apgar scores (a measure of baby’s physical condition), and who recover from the stresses of labor faster.
      1. It could lower your baby’s risk of heart defects at birth: Congenital heart defects are one of the most common birth defects, affecting as many as 1 in 100 babies. A large recently-published research study that was conducted on mice showed that mothers who exercised regularly during pregnancy substantially lessened their risk of giving birth to offspring with heart defects. Read more about this study HERE.
      1. It could improve your baby’s brain functioning: Longer-term studies have shown that babies born to mothers who exercised during pregnancy scored higher on general intelligence, memory tests, and oral language tests than children of non-exercising mothers (even when factoring out parental weight, height, education, socioeconomic status and several other factors that could influence a child’s development). In addition, a very recent study that measured newborn’s brainwave activity showed that babies born to exercising moms had more “mature” brains than those whose mothers were sedentary.  Read more about this study HERE.

      Medical Disclaimer:  This information is for a healthy pregnant woman, with no complications or risk factors.  This content is for informational purposes only and not intended to offer medical advice.  Always consult with your doctor first before beginning any exercise program.

      RELATED POSTS

      View Post

    4. Comparing Ourselves to Supermodels Postpartum

      A personal trainer shows us how to set realistic fitness goals postpartum.

       

      Article & Photo courtesy of Well Rounded NY

      It’s that time of year again: the cold sets in and we become less active. And a certain underwear company holds a big fashion show in which women wear very little. While many of us choose not to watch, we are all exposed to it through social media, regardless of whether we want to or not.

      One recurring theme of the past years has been the impressive weight loss that women achieve leading up to the show — especially the models that are new moms. Their routines have been praised by the media.

      Journalists love to highlight these supermodels’ postpartum weight loss and make comparisons to other women. Once 12 weeks postpartum seemed like a fantastic comeback…then 10 weeks…and now it can be as little as 8 weeks from delivering a baby to baring it all on the catwalk in front of cameras and the world.

      As a personal trainer and coach, I commend my peers who coach these women through the rigorous routines which they must surely endure to achieve these results. But as a woman and somebody who has worked with hundreds of expecting and new mothers, I shudder at what message the media is sending and how this adds to the already full plate of a (first time) new mom.

      Most women don’t get the green light from their doctors to work out until 6 weeks postpartum. This depends on their level of fitness before and during pregnancy and whether the pregnancy was high or low risk. The shortest I have witnessed has been 3 weeks, and even then, I advise new moms to get back to working out at their own pace before I restart my work with them.

      What we must all keep in mind, is that women in the public eye make their living off of their appearances and, as such, treat nutrition and fitness as a full time job. They work out up to 5 hours a day, 7 days a week and have nutritionists watching their diet and assisting them in their healthy lifestyle. During those first weeks postpartum, many can focus almost solely on their goal event with the help of assistants, nannies and others.

      While we all know this on some level, it’s hard not to get sucked in to wanting to look the same — and as quickly — postpartum. So here are a few pointers to keep in mind while you’re losing your pregnancy weight.

      1. Find other new moms to get active with. Whether you go for a walk or do a mommy and me yoga class, the accountability, camaraderie and motivation that comes from doing it with others, will get you out the door even in the winter.
      2. Acknowledge the changes in your body. Forty weeks of pregnancy will wreak havoc on even the fittest of women. It creates tension and loose joints, and you will feel more winded doing cardio. The immediate postpartum period can be overwhelming with nursing, insomnia and learning many new things as you adjust to keeping a newborn alive.
      3. The best foundation is building strength and balance in the body. It’s not about bulking up or building muscle, but rather about strengthening your core form the inside out. This will help you combat conditions such as diastasis recti, ensure a strong pelvic floor to avoid problems like incontinence, and create stability and strength in your upper body and limbs to avoid mommy thumb, shoulder and back pain. That new-found strength has a positive effect on your mental attitude too.
      4. Remember that some women lose weight because they breastfeed and others (the lesser known camp) lose weight when they wean. Accept that if you fall into the latter category, you may hold on to a few pounds around the hips that are there to ensure your baby has enough resources. It’s nature, and it’s unfair, but don’t be tempted to interpret this is a good reason to quit breastfeeding. Rather, think of it as a nice amount of weight loss to look forward to without much effort once you stop nursing!
      5. Take every opportunity that someone offers to watch the baby to get off the computer and get out and get active. The internet can suck you in — and make you compare yourself to others. Especially when you’re feeling depleted and low and isolated at home, in your pajamas (because it’s just you and the baby after all). Part of the reason why celebrities “bounce back” quickly is because they are being watched 24/7. So don’t be shy. Go out! Make it a priority to leave the house and face the world.

      This article is by Roma van der Walt, courtesy of Well Rounded NY.  Conceived with love by former magazine editors Jessica Pallay and Kaity Velez, Well Rounded NY aims to be the singular pregnancy resource for city-savvy moms-to-be. Through reviews, profiles, expert Q&As, local guides and more, Well Rounded curates the New York City pregnancy and helps its readers come to terms – and term! – with pregnancy in the city.

      RELATED POSTS

      View Post