It's been a little over a year since I went through labor and delivery and all the fun stuff that follows. I feel like it was months before I totally felt like myself again, and I continued to be shocked by the changes that happen in your body after giving birth! I thought it all stopped when the baby came out? Ha! Hormones continue to mess with you and it takes a while for everything to go back where it belongs. I know - a little TMI - but hey, I like to talk about awkward stuff. And you know you all think about it. Except you guys...maybe you should go check out my FUEL page and make something yummy and leave this post for the ladies.
After going through a fit and healthy pregnancy, I really wanted to be able to help other mama's do the same thing but I knew I needed to me armed with more education. That's where my Oh Baby! Pre/Postnatal Fitness Certification comes in! I went through the course this spring and can I tell you, I loved every minute of it! Not only did I get to take notes with my multi-colored pens like I was in high school again, but I learned something new EVERY DAY! I sure wish I had known some of this stuff when I was pregnant! I'm excited to share what I've learned through some blog posts and workouts here on HFF, as well as in my new local class here in South Texas. "Moms in Motion" starts next week and I'm SO STOKED about it!
Today I wanted to share with you the TOP 3 EXERCISES to do in the first 6 weeks after after having a baby. These can be done RIGHT AWAY as long as you had a healthy delivery. Even after a c-section, it's important to start these! There are new studies out saying that new mom's don't necessarily have to wait the 6 weeks to get back to exercise after giving birth. It's definitely important to get doctor's clearance whenever you decide to start working out again, and it's really good to listen to your body too. Whatever you do, do these 3 things right away. I mean hey - #1 can be done in your hospital bed!
#1 - KEGELS KEGELS KEGELS
Also called a "Pelvic Floor Lift". Do these. You hear it a million times while you're pregnant and maybe you do them a few times when you think of it but seriously friends, do them as much as possible. Do them before you get pregnant, while you're pregnant and for the love of cute gym tights keep doing them after that baby arrives! You can even start doing them in your hospital bed, even though it will probably be the last thing on your mind! And if you had a c-section, you may not have as much damage to the pelvic floor but they are still important to do. A strong, functional pelvic floor is really important for returning to exercise, and kegels are the most effective way to train it. Added Bonus: you might not pee your pants every time you sneeze for the rest of your life.
How? Think about a muscle that spans from hip to hip and from your tailbone to your pubic bone. Like a thin sheet across your body. Then think about LIFTING that up, holding for 5 seconds, and then lowering it down. Some people like to think about it like you're stopping your pee min-stream. Whatever example works for ya. Once you've mastered this (it will be HARD right away but keep after it!), then try little flicks...where you lift and lower quickly for 20 seconds. Do both of these versions at least 3x a day. I know you're doing them right now...
#2 - Hollowing Out Your Abs
This is a simple transverse abdominal contraction. When you are pregnant, your abdominal muscles stretch and weaken. A lot. Sometimes they even separate down the middle of your stomach in what is called diastasis recti. It's not fun, but it can be fixed! Your transverse abdominals are the deepest core muscles that run horizontally around your waist. They are super important for core stability and posture.
How? It's easy - but easier said than done. You want to bring your belly button in and up, kind of like you are tightening a wide belt around your waist. Start with holding these muscles engaged for 5 seconds and work up to 20. Do these whenever you can throughout the day.
#3 - Chest Stretches
These were the ones I noticed I needed A LOT after Little M was born. Once you have that tiny little baby in your arms, you don't often put them down. This causes your shoulders to round forward. Add in breast feeding all day/night and heavier breasts (it's true, come on), and your posture is just screwed. I remember my upper back hurting so bad! Doing chest stretches regularly will really make big difference!
How? My favorite way to stretch my chest is in a door frame. Raise your hands to about the level of your head , like you're making a "W" in the air. Then rest your hands in a door frame and gently lean your chest and body through the door. Your hands will end up slightly behind your shoulders. You can also do this 1 arm at a time, putting your arm up at a 90 degree angle and resting your forearm on the side of the wall. Then turn your body away from the wall while holding the stretch.
I have to add one extra exercise in here - walking. You can start walking as soon as its comfortable for you and your Dr approves. This is the one thing that I really attribute my speedy weight loss to. Start with a walk to the mailbox and back, and add on gradually. Those walks not only will help you gain your fitness back, it's a great chance to get some fresh air when we can often be holed up inside with a new baby.
Disclaimer: I am a certified personal trainer but I am not your doctor. I do not give out medical advice. Please talk to your doctor before starting post-partum exercise, or doing any of the workouts on this site.
How about you?
What is the one piece of pregnancy/baby/childbirth advice you wish you knew before you had a baby?