Will I ever get my shape back?
By Susan Donovan
The process of childbirth puts stress and,
often times, extra weight on a woman's body - but it does
not mean that you cannot regain your shape and pre-pregnancy
weight. Throughout your pregnancy, regular exercise and
healthy eating is the key. By sticking to a moderate,
consistent routine, your pre-pregnancy shape will return!
The American College of Obstetricians and
Gynecologists does not specify when it is safe for postpartum
women to begin a regular exercise program, but four to
six weeks is the typical recommended time. Those who have
had C-Sections tend to need more time. Always obtain the
consent of your healthcare provider before starting any
postpartum exercise. Be sure to find out from your caregiver
whether you suffer from "diastis recti," a condition
that occurs during pregnancy causing a separation of muscles
that run down the center of the abdomen. You must modify
your abdominal workout if you have this condition.
To accommodate for your growing uterus and
baby, your abdominal muscles were stretched and lengthened
during the course of your pregnancy. It is important to
strengthen your abdominal muscles, not only to regain
stability of your internal organs, but to lower your risk
of back pain and injury, as well as get your belly flat.
Be sure to start slowly and avoid movements that require
momentum or jerky movements since the soft layer of collagen
fiber that helped your belly to expand will still be there
for approximately 4 to 6 weeks postpartum.
Here are a few exercises to get you started:
PELVIC TILT WITH DEEP BREATHING
Lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat
on the floor, place your hands on your abdomen. Take a
deep breath in through your nose. Exhale very slowly through
your mouth and contract your abdominal muscles by pulling
inward as you lower your back to the floor (empty your
lungs completely during the exhale). Repeat 8 times.
BASIC ABDOMINAL CURL
Assume the same position, but place your hands on your
thighs. Take a deep breath. As you slowly exhale, curl
up, sliding your hands towards your knees by contracting
your abdominal muscles. Keep your lower back on the floor.
Reach as far as you comfortably can and hold for a second.
Return to starting position while you inhale. Repeat 8
RESUME YOUR 'FLEX' LIFE
For months your body has had a limited range of motion.
During this time, ligaments and muscles may have shortened.
Stretching exercises will help you regain your body's
flexibility. Try this great lower back stretch:
KNEE TO CHEST STRETCH
Lying on your back, pull your right knee into your chest
while your left leg remains straight on the floor. Hold
20 seconds and repeat with your other leg. Hold 20 seconds.
Bring both knees to your chest and hold 20 seconds. Repeat
series 3 times.
Exercise will help you regain your shape
and strength as well help you to cope with the mild depression
some women experience after childbirth. Remember to start
slow, listen to your body and be consistent with your
Susan Donovan, is the owner/manager of Ultra Fitness,
a woman's fitness center with a special focus on women's
health and wellness.
NOTE: This information should not be used as a substitute
for the medical care and advice of your personal physician.
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