I’ve been writing this for a few weeks and I have so many friends right now that are pregnant and having babies that I wanted to share my experiences! It is so
8 Month Transformation (after first pregnancy)
wonderful to see all the happy news going around as we have reached that time in our lives that we are starting families. 🙂
There are so many wonderful things that come with pregnancy and to witness first hand how amazing the human body is, is truly a gift! The physical and hormonal changes your body goes through during pregnancy are exciting, interesting, exhausting, stressful and mind boggling all at the same time! Post-pregnancy is also an emotional time. While you have this precious baby that you have been waiting to meet for what seems like an eternity, you are also left with this strange, squishy post-pregnant body that you don’t recognize. No you are not ruined and stretch marks fade with time (while creams help keep your skin hydrated and nourished, stretch marks are mostly genetic). You just need to accept the fact that it is going to take more than a month and some honest work to get your pre-pregnancy body back. But you definitely CAN get it back and you WILL.
Since I now have two beautiful, healthy babies and have been through two “post-pregnancy bodies” I wanted to share some things I have done to get back to normal. Now, my way is certainly not the only way and there are plenty of women who have gotten in shape faster than I have, but this is a healthy and stress free road I have taken that I hope can help you.
First, it IS easier said than done, but PLEASE, don’t hate on your post-pregnancy body. Realize how much you have just gone through. Your body has gone through A LOT over the past 40 (or so) weeks, not to mention the trauma of child birth. Give yourself proper rest, proper nutrition and fluid intake immediately after child birth. I will admit, after my second baby I started trying to exercise too quickly, and along with taking care of my 27 pound toddler, I hurt my back. Your core has been stretched and practically torn in half,putting a lot of stress on your back muscles, it needs plenty of time to heal and gain strength. The first thing I did (before being cleared to exercise) was something very simple called the “stomach vacuum”. You can do this while nursing, showering, eating dinner, etc. Simply suck your stomach in, pulling your belly button in towards your spine, and holding that for as long as you can. Imagine your stomach muscles contracting and your belly flattening while you do this. Initially, you probably won’t even be able to feel your stomach muscles but this simple exercise will start to initiate the activation of the transverse abdominus (deepest muscle of your abdominals acting as a girdle) and will start pulling the muscles of your core back together. So Simple.
Once you have been cleared (by your doctor) to exercise, start slowly. Don’t kill yourself your first workout. It is totally normal to feel weak and fatigued after a few exercises. After all you have probably not yet had more than a 4 hour chunk of sleep. Start with a 20-minute yoga DVD or a few upper body and lower body exercises with very light dumbbells or just your bodyweight. Low planks, side planks and prone back extensions are your BEST FRIENDS right now. You can do these at home while the baby naps. Start out with a 20 second low plank, 10 seconds on each side plank and 12 repetitions of prone back extensions for 3 rounds. I do these exercises 3-4 times per week and my stomach has flattened out, my linea negra is starting to disappear and I have had a significant decrease in low back pain.
Prone Back Extension
Second, eat nutritious foods! I sometimes forget to eat because I have a 20-month old and I am nursing a 3-month old, but I do my best to eat as nutritiously as possible! I am not going low-carb, counting calories or cutting out any specific foods (unless it makes my 3-month old gassy LOL). I eat protein at every meal, a clean complex-carbohydrate and I avoid processed foods. When it’s a really crazy day I snack on protein muffins or some leftovers. I DO have a “FREE MEAL” at least once on the weekends which is usually pizza (and more than one slice LOL). I mean, come on, you’ve got to live a little, right? This is usually on a saturday night when both babies are asleep and we are watching the FSU game. ;).
One great piece of advice I got when I was pregnant with my first was to get a postpartum belly band (I got mine for only $16 on Amazon). This saved my lower back! It will give your back great support and with help you to keep your abdominal muscles pulled in. Get one if you haven’t already!
I always tell my clients to give themselves at least 3 months to start noticing a big change in their bodies when they start a new exercise program. Below are my pictures from 2 weeks postpartum and 13 weeks postpartum (I was cheating a bit in my before picture because I was wearing my postpartum belly band). The biggest help for me was being in shape pre-pregnancy. I honestly was not one of those super active pregnant women during either of my pregnancies. I tried to exercise regularly but I didn’t have the energy or motivation and my daughter was measuring smaller than normal so I stopped working out completely around 30 weeks pregnant and started eating MORE.
Current Transformation (after second pregnancy).
So when you are ready and cleared to start exercise, ease into it. Start with bodyweight exercises, core strengthening exercises and light yoga or pilates. Work your strength back up and start hitting the free weights and machines. I have done maybe three steady state cardio sessions since my daughter was born. I focus on strength training because it is the only exercise that is going to SHAPE my body into what I want it to look like. Most importantly, I’ve gotten a lot of strength back in my abdominals and lower abs without doing a single crunch. Remember, start with low planks, side planks and prone back extensions and then try this routine; it’s great for burning fat and increasing core strength post pregnancy. I will be posting more workouts in the future so stay tuned. 🙂
*If you have any questions or you would like to share YOUR advice for how you got back into shape post-pregnancy PLEASE share your comments below! I look forward to hearing from you!