Category Archives: Post-partum Recovery & Exercise
You’ve probably all been told that to see the results you want, you need to put in the work.
It takes dedication, commitment, perseverance, sacrifice and patience. Notice I did not mention time. I purposely left time out because I believe that if you are commited to your goals then you will make sure to dedicate the time necessary to achieve your goals. There is no way around it. You either have results or excuses.. not both.
I will talk a little about myself and my fitness goals:
I had gained 50 pds with my recent pregnancy.. I guess that’s just how my body works (I had gained 60pds with my first pregnancy). I get what it is to look at yourself after baby is born and not recognize your body. You still look pregnant..and it’s frustrating.
My goal throughout my pregnancy was to keep as active as I could. I continued my workouts (with obvious adjustments) until a few pregnancy-related discomforts didn’t allow me to lift weights anymore..at around the 7 month mark. I then focused on prenatal yoga & stretching.
Once my son was born & I passed the 6 week mark I resumed my weight training. My goal was to shed my baby weight and tighten up my abdominal section by October (my son was born in January). The truth was, having a baby around again left me with little time for myself & zero energy. But I made the effort to workout at least 2x/week and keep my food as clean as I could.
As the months passed, I developed a nice little routine. I would do my metobolic workouts from home, and make it to the gym for my weight training sessions (which ended up being late at night). I’ll be honest and say that there were many times I just didn’t have the energy to go to the gym or I just wanted to stay home.. and sometimes I did. But I didn’t beat myself up over it.. I just made up for it the next day.
I shed the baby weight by the time October rolled around and I felt comfortable in a bikini (I had a destination wedding to attend), which felt great!
My current goal is to focus on gaining more definition. At the moment I don’t have definitive time of where I want to be by “X date”. I just train and eat clean ( I do indulge here & there) and I don’t feel guilty about it.
• I currently weight train 3x/week
• Do 1 metabolic workout at home
• I eat 5-6x/day
• Drink about 2L of water/day
We all have jobs, spouses, kids, social lives; but what you need to do is dedicate yourself to your goals, commit time to reaching them, understand that there will need to be some sacrifices made along the way, and have perserverance when faced with obstacles.
With dedication and commitment no goal is unattainable ☺
One of the adaptive changes our body goes through in order to accommodate our growing baby (and belly) is the separation of the right & left halves of the rectus abdominis at the linea alba; a sheath of fibrous tissue that runs vertically between the right and left abdominal muscles. This usually occurs in the third trimester due to the increase in pressure on the abdominal wall.
Most times it will correct itself after childbirth, but for some women- either due to genetics, pregnancy hormones, rapid or excessive abdominal growth- this condition persists and must be corrected to prevent any further problems.
How to tell if you have diastasis recti:
Your healthcare provider should check for this at your 6 week post-partum checkup. But if this has not been done, here’s a simple way to
check for yourself
If it’s been determined that you have diastasis recti you should avoid:
• Exercises that strain the rectus abdominis such as crunches, bicycles, v-sits, boats & front planks
• Yoga postures that stretch the abs, such as “cow pose,” “up-dog,” all backbends, and “belly breathing.”
• Using the valsalva manuever (this increases intra- abdominal pressure)
• Exercises that cause forceful pressure against the abdominal wall
That being said.. Diastasis recti can be corrected through rehab exercises (and patience). It is important to correct this issue before getting into an exercise routine as you can cause further injury to yourself.
In this video you will find four simple exercises that can help with strengthening the core. The exercises are numbered from left to right:
1. Pelvic Roll: while lying down draw in your belly button towards the spine; roll your pelvis without squeezing the glutes. Hold at the top for seconds. Ensure you keep your belly button towards the spine as you lower your pelvis.
2. Dead Bug: while lying down ensure your belly button is drawn in towards your spine. Extend your arms straight up and raise your legs bending them at 90 degrees. Slowly extend one leg at a 45 degree angle. Return to start & repeat with other leg.
3. Quadruped Alternate Arm/Leg Extension: start on your hands & knees keeping your back flat and belly button drawn in. Extend opposite arm & leg. Hold for 6 seconds. Alternate sides
4. Quadruped Draw-in: start on your hands & knees keeping your back flat. Completely relax your tummy. As you breath in draw in your belly button towards your spine and hold for 10 seconds before releasing.
Do these exercises about 2-3 times a week. Each exercise should be performed 10 -12 times for 3 sets.
If this feels too intense slowly build up to 3 sets.
Ensuring that you address this issue, you will be able to build up the strength in your core which will then allow you to move onto a more intense exercise program (and yes…less boring too! ;))
That’s all for now 🙂
One thing that was on my mind after my little bean was born: when can I start exercising again? Women can usually begin gentle and casual walking within the first 2 weeks postpartum. Light stretching, gentle rotation of arms & ankles are also fine.
After you have passed the 6-week postpartum period and been cleared by your physician, you can slowly get back into your pre-pregnancy exercise routine… but make sure to take it slow. Although most of the physiological and morphological changes are most notable for the first 4–6 weeks postpartum, many experts agree that the muscles, tendons and joints do not return to their prepregnancy state for at least 9–12 months. I know it’s frustrating because who wants to still look pregnant?! Not me!!
If you’ve had a c-section, isometric and gentle stretching and strengthening exercises, as well as casual walking, can be started right away unless there is heavy bleeding,pain, or breast infection or abscess.
Pelvic tilts, hip lifts, pelvic-floor exercises and walking are a great way to start strengthening the core. There should be no pain, if there is make sure to talk to your doc right away.
Women can usually begin gentle and casual walking within the first 2 weeks.
Depending on how your delivery went, expect to feel like your old self again anywhere between 2-8 months.
Now, let’s talk about pelvic organ prolapse. All women will experience some degree of prolapse following the birth of their baby. This happens when the muscles and ligaments responsible for holding up the organs housed in your pelvis are weakend, due to pregnancy and labour, and (depending on the severity) will collapse. Here are common symptoms
Here’s one exercise that will help strengthen your core:
Start by sitting on an exercise ball or sit upright on a chair (make sure you are not slouching)
Purse your lips & exhale as you draw your belly button back towards your spine and LIFT your pelvic floor – right in the middle – imagine drawing up the walls of your vagina, as if pulling a tampon deep up inside. DON’T tuck your tailbone under.
Relax as you inhale (don’t push away – just relax) & repeat. Very Important: nothing moves except a small drawing in of your lower abdomen. Your shoulders, chest or pelvis do not move – so you don’t tuck your tailbone underneath as you contract the muscles, and don’t squeeze or clench your backside or your inner thighs.
Lower abs should draw gently in, not suck in hard. If your rib cage rises or thrusts, if your shoulders hunch or if you’re sucking in your stomach, then its not working right. All this movement will do is displace air & body mass upwards into your ribcage. This increases the pressure inside, not decreases it.
Next, try to isolate your pelvic floor muscles by reconnecting & identifying the right muscles…and focus on them. On an exhale, try a little squeeze at the front where you pee, then on the next exhale, lift the middle – your vagina; then on the next, lift your back passage (imagine drawing your rectum up inside). Try not to clench your butt (it will be hard at first).
Try these pelvic floor acrobatics a few times to focus on the 3 openings of your pelvic floor & re-connect your brain’s nerve pathways to the muscles. Think front, middle, back… then back again!
Remember practice makes perfect 🙂