Prenatal and Postpartum

A pregnant body is similar to that of an athlete. Your heart pumps more blood, you carry more weight, you expend more energy therefore need more energy, and you're slowly gearing up for an incredible physical task. If you are already active, check what activities you are doing; squats and pelvic tilts are especially helpful in easing labor. Continue to be active or even add activity to your day. If you aren't or never were active - get moving! Pregnancy, labor, birth, and recovery after birth are all much easier when you are fit. If you have a medical problem that prohibits you from performing any exercises, consult with your caregiver. Even just walking for 30minutes a day is more beneficial than doing nothing at all.

 

Benefits of prenatal exercise:

  • Boosts energy

  • Improves circulation and thus nutrient delivery to baby

  • Strengthens baby's cardiovascular system

  • Alleviates cramping, back pain, loss of balance

  • Improves posture

  • Prevents excessive weight gain

  • Promotes more restful sleep

  • Can lower blood sugar to normal levels in women with signs of gestational diabetes

  • Fewer complications and shorter labors than seen in mothers who do not exercise

  • Lowers incidences of anxiety, depression, and pregnancy-specific stress

Weight training especially helps counter-balance the changes in center of gravity and posture a pregnant woman experiences. As some muscles get strained more under the growing baby, others weaken. Targeted weight training can address those areas to minimize or even cancel out the effects. Things to watch out for during pregnancy and postpartum are exercises that strain your abdominal muscles, especially if you have diastasis recti, and power exercises as well as stretches that put too much strain on your joints increasing risk of injury due to the elevated relaxin levels. Modification may be needed for some moves. 

 

What you need to know about diastasis recti for your workouts:

After the 2nd trimester watch out for any bulging of the abdomen during exercises. Your abs should be pulled in as if zipped into a corset. If you notice a mound protruding during exercises such as crunches, check for diastasis (ab separation) and modify workouts to not exacerbate it. Lie back on the floor, legs bent and on the floor. Slowly lift you head and shoulders. If you feel a gap between your muscles and see a bulge, you have diastasis.

Exercises to avoid and their modifications:

Twists where the arm extends away from your body on the side you’re twisting (such as triangle pose). You can modify them by twisting to the same side

Stretches that further separate the muscles (such as “cow pose” or “up dog”). You can modify by only flattening your back instead of arching it.

Crunch – like exercises ex: lifts or bicycle crunches. Modify as you need. The degree of modification depends on your core strength and the severity of the separation. You may be able to keep your muscles flat by placing your head down or lifting only one leg at a time, or you may not even be able to do that and simply holding a position close to the one required and focusing on breathing is all you can manage. The breathing should be done as a transverse abdominis isolation exercise.  To do this, you inhale deeply separating your ribcage as much as possible. Then you slowly breathe out while making a hissing sound as tightening your core. You keep the tightness for a few breaths and repeat. You can also pulse your muscles in and out by tightening further then releasing just a little.

 

**Listen to your body and intuition. When in doubt, either don’t do or modify the exercise. Stop altogether and consult your caregiver if you have any of the following symptoms.**

Warning Signs to Stop Exercise and Consult with Your Caregiver

  • Significant fatigue or muscle weakness

  • Vaginal bleeding (or, postpartum, increase in bleeding. You shouldn’t be exercising much until it really tapers off or stops after you give birth)

  • Leakage of amniotic fluid

  • Dizziness or fainting

  • Swelling of the ankles, calves, hands, or face

  • Abdominal pain

  • Severe headache

  • Vision problems

  • Fever

  • Elevated heart rate or blood pressure that doesn't return to normal within 30 minutes after completion of an exercise session

 

Videos of diastasis healing exercises: 

Baby Weight.tv

Physical Therapy- Pelvic Exercises

The Belle Method (these are a series of videos for purchase)

The Inspired RD

 

More good workout tips: http://www.befitmom.com/

Good workout tips and videos with a baby:  Melissa Miller Fitness and Wellness

Sources:

Evidence Based Birth

American Pregnancy

For private personal training and guidance please send me a message or email to set up a consultation. For online support, you can also message me or email or contact me through facebook (@mindbodybabie). I am happy to meet you wherever you are on your journey.

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Have questions? Contact me at mindbodybabie@gmail.com or 347.398.6801

© 2020 by Anna Lopez