Exercising While Expecting (and Beyond)

Fitness Before and After Baby

Oh the havoc babies bestow on our bodies. During pregnancy, morning sickness, energy depletion and back pain accompany our growing belly, not to mention other strange things going on inside of us. After baby's birth, the story is similar, as we muddle through the extra pounds around our middle, loss of muscle mass and of course, loss of sleep. And yes, we will put up with anything as long as the rollercoaster ride on our body produces a nice little nugget of our own flesh and blood.

But while the bump is cute in the third trimester, no one really wants it hanging around very long after childbirth. Gaining too much weight during pregnancy, can not only be unhealthy for baby, but also strenuous on mommies both before and after birth. Here are some healthy ideas to dump the baby bump and get back to body before baby.

Exercise During Pregnancy

Start Slow - Be Smart

If you were a couch potato before you were pregnant, now is not the time to train for a marathon or take the boot camp class you've been eyeballing on your way to work. Stick with exercise you already do or try exercise meant for beginners.

Exercise Choices

Walking is safe, easy and a great cardio workout. No equipment or trainer needed - just you and your path. Swimming is a good choice because it uses the entire body and keeps joint tension at bay. Plus, it feels good to have the water support your enlarging belly. If you like instruction, try a low impact aerobics class. Look for certified fitness instructors who have experience or specialties in prenatal fitness.

Many pregnant women find comfort and camaraderie being with other pregnant women. Try a prenatal yoga class or dance class for expecting moms only. Just make sure to discuss your exercise intentions with your doctor before you start lacing those tennis shoes.

Exercise After Pregnancy

Getting your post baby body back is something to look forward to, but consider all the other benefits of exercising after baby is born. Research shows that consistent exercise started soon after birth, is not only good for you physically, but may also help reduce the risk of postpartum depression. And now, more than ever, you will appreciate the stress relief and increased energy regular exercise can give you.

How Soon Can I Start?

Start right away if you are up to it. Try not to use excuses to keep you from getting out there. Many doctors are moving away from waiting six weeks before allowing exercise, especially if you were exercising during pregnancy, but each woman, birth and delivery is different. Check with your doctor, and double-check how you feel both physically and mentally. Your mind may be ready, but your body may say something else.

What Exercise Should I do?

Start easy with some pelvic floor and core activation exercises. Kegals can be done just about anywhere and can be performed as soon as possible after birth. Walking is always a good choice and is one of the easiest ways to ease into a fitness routine after giving birth. Start slowly and work your way up to intervals-walking fast for one minute and recovering for one minute. Try this for 30 minutes and see how you feel. Get baby involved by carrying him in a front pack or jogger stroller. He will love the outdoors and you will love the convenience. 

What If Something Feels Wrong?

If you experience any unusual symptoms such as heavy bleeding, headaches, or severe soreness during or just after your workout, immediately stop exercising and call your doctor.

Make Time

Of course, finding time to exercise can be daunting, and some days you may feel too tired and emotional to workout. But don't deny yourself the benefits of physical activity. It will work wonders for your well-being and give you all the energy you need to care for that soon-to-be little exerciser in your family.

Lisa Taranto Butler is the owner of FitChix KC in Leawood. She is certified by the American Council on Exercise as a Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor.

As always, please consult with your health care provider with any questions or before beginning an exercise routine.

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