5 Simple Exercises Pregnant Women Can Do NOW To Bounce Back Into Shape Postpartum
Aug 08, 2013
When Kate Middleton made her first public appearance shortly after giving birth, her post-baby belly got more attention than the new prince. Never mind the added weight-gain which took nine plus months to put on, but the uterus is like a balloon that is still inflated. It takes time to flatten out as all of the internal organs reposition themselves as before.
At a time when new moms are so vulnerable – being tired and caring for a newborn as hormone levels continue to fluctuate, while living up to unrealistic expectations of others is enough for anyone carrying extra weight to feel depressed, especially post-partum.
Transitioning from expectant mom to motherhood is a rite of passage to be honored, respected and supported. Give mom a break and time to drop the baby weight. A healthy goal is the nine plus months it took to put the weight on, while obsessing and working hard at this time to get back in shape is not!
Expectant moms need not overdo it in their prenatal exercise routines, yet they can set themselves up now with these 5 simple exercises to ease back into shape at a pace that is effective, feels good and is healthy:
1. Practice Deep Breathing
It’s amazing what a few deep breaths can do, especially at such an emotional time. Focus on your breath as you inhale deeply, filling your belly with air, then let the air out completely. This is calming to the body and allows us to become fully present in the moment and better able to cope with our range of emotions. Develop this good habit now so it becomes part of your routine after birth for more clarity and awareness when things can seem a bit foggy. Practice in conjunction with the next exercise for abdominal rehabilitation and improved posture
2. Abdominal Strengthening
New moms will greatly benefit from belly breathing and strengthening abdominal muscles as in pregnancy, but for different reasons. Expectant moms need strong abdominal muscles to help push the baby out, and because muscles have memory, they’ll bounce back into shape very quickly after birth, once you incorporate these exercises again. Inhale deeply filling your belly, exhale as you pull navel in towards your spine and hug your baby from the inside. Other benefits include lower back support, more energy and a slimming silhouette with improved posture.
3. Kegel Exercises
This is probably the most important prenatal exercise to do if you can do nothing else. We must do our Kegel exercises to strengthen and tone the pelvic floor muscle; a toned PC muscle is one that relaxes easier for pushing, and bounces back into shape more quickly post-partum. Other benefits include preventing incontinence and enhanced sexual pleasure.
4. Wrist/Ankle Rolls
While pregnant, the hormone relaxin helps to loosen joints and ligaments. Simple wrist and ankle circles are a great way to prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome - a predisposing factor in pregnancy causing numbness and/or pain in the wrists. Very common amongst new and expectant moms, circling wrists eight times each in both directions can alleviate the pain, keep the joints lubricated and strong. Add ankle rolls to get circulation going, especially after feeding.
5. Upper Body Exercises
Incorporating and practicing exercises to open the chest and strengthen the upper back and arms is a great way to counteract the effects of pregnancy posture. Doing modified pushups, weight-baring exercises, and simple stretches such clasping hands together from behind while squeezing shoulder blades together, will help with strength and posture for all the lifting after birth.
Set yourself up to enjoy your new role and new family member! Begin in pregnancy and continue these exercises post-partum. As hormone levels even out, there will be an increase in energy, motivation and body-awareness. Healthy eating habits will be easier to stick with in a new post baby body as the baby weight continues to melt in a healthy way. Mom eases into her new body as well as her new role with less stress, and more confidence and well-being!
What moves you?