4 Questions ALL new MOMs need to know

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says it's okay to gradually resume exercising when you feel up to it. But your doctor or midwife may ask you to wait until your six-week post delivery check upso they can see how you're doing first.

Exercise is good for you, but in the first few months after you give birth, don't overdo it. Your body needs time to heal, and you need time to adjust to your new role and to care for and bond with your baby.

1.     Do I need to be careful of my abdominal muscles?

Most women develop a gap in their abdominal muscles as their belly expands during pregnancy and labor. This gap is called a diastasis recti. If not treated, this can lead to chronic low  back pain, herniation and bad posture. This can be corrected with exercises specially designed by to address this unique challenge.

To avoid exacerbating diastasis recti, all activities that cause a forward, forceful movement of the abdominal muscles are contraindicated. Specifically, you should:

•  Avoid full sit-ups and conventional crunches (any exercises that lifts her shoulders off the floor from a back-lying position).

• Cross-over oblique exercises (which cause a shearing action of the rectus abdominus, further stretching the over-stretched linea alba; the connective tissue in the midline of your abdominals).

•  Any exercise or activity that you cannot perform while keeping your core muscles, specifically your transverse abdominus muscle engaged (belly button moving toward the spine).

• You may have unhealthy postural tendencies due in part to your recent pregnancy – kyphosis and lordosis (sway back or hunch back).

Pelvic Tilts:
             Starting position, lay on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
             Inhale first, then initiate the pelvic tilt movement as you exhale.When you let your breath out, your abdomen should come toward your back.. This will result in your low back gently stretching and reaching in the direction of the floor.
             Inhale to come back to start-- Allow the spine and pelvis to return to their original position. Just allow the body to come back to where it began.

Leg Slides
            Starting position, lie flaton your back with both knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Take a deep breath and exhale slowly through your mouth. Now slide one leg forward on the mat so that the leg is fully extended and resting on the mat. Slide the leg  back to the bent knee position. Now do the same exercise with the other leg. Take another deep breath. Exhale slowly. Repeat 10 times.

2.     Will exercise affect my ability to breastfeed?

No, it won't. Even vigorous exercise doesn't significantly affect the amount or composition of your breast milk. But you'll want to avoid exercises that make your breasts sore or tender. Wear a supportive sports bra while working out, and try to nurse your baby before you exercise so your breasts won't feel uncomfortably full.

3.     Are there any physical signs that I might be trying to do too much too soon?

Too much physical activity during the first few weeks after delivery can cause your vaginal flow, called lochia, to become pink or red and to flow more heavily. This is a signal to slow down. Notify your doctor or midwife if vaginal bleeding or lochia restarts after you thought it had stopped or if you experience any pain when you exercise.

4.     What's the best way to lose weight after giving birth?

The best way to start dropping those pregnancy poundsis to do some form of exercise while eating nutritionally rich foods. Aerobic activity gets your heart rate up, such as brisk walking, swimming, running, or biking and resistance training touches on the major muscle groups of your body. Both of which are essential for a well rounded exercise and wellness program.

But wait at least six weeks — and preferably a few months — before you actively try to slim down. And don't aim to lose more than a pound per week, especially if you're breastfeeding.

Starting a diet too soon after giving birth can affect your mood and energy level, as well as your milk supply. If you're patient and give your body time to do its work, you may be surprised at how much weight you loose naturally.


Written by: Lisa Hoffman, M.A.