So, your bundle of joy has arrived and you have successfully been able to get into a routine with your baby. Most new mothers, at this time, begin to get enthusiastic about getting back to their pre-pregnancy weight. This period of breast feeding is not the best time to start any diet program, however, with your doctors agreement, it may be a great time to start getting back into some more physical activity.
Goal setting of about one pound a week weight loss is very reasonable and will keep you and your baby healthy and happy. Adding some aerobic activity into your schedule will be helpful. You can choose from swimming, brisk walking or finding a mom and baby fitness class in your area. It is important to work large muscle groups first since they use up more energy and thus accelerate weight loss. To maximize your time, be sure to workout at 60 - 80 % of your maximum heart rate. (Maximum heart rate can be calculated by subtracting your age from 220).
If you are a beginner exerciser, start off with 30 minutes per exercise session and aim for three sessions a week. If you are more experienced, you may want to start of moderately, 30 - 50 minutes, three sessions a week. If you are an advanced exerciser, be sure not to push yourself too hard from the beginning. Gradually work up to the intensity that you are used to. Remember that every individual and every pregnancy is different and you will need to listen to your body to notice if you can do more or should be doing less.
Weight loss should, however, become easier once your little one has been weaned off of breast milk. Ladies that endure a C-section during birth would need to take weight loss a little slower that ladies who sought a vaginal birth. Be sure that your incision has healed completely and get the approval of your doctor before starting any fitness and weight loss program.
Herbal teas can be refreshing and relaxing, but for a pregnant individual, not always recommended. Not all herbal teas are good to ingest during the period of pregnancy and breast feeding. Some teas contain dissolved substances which can have a drug-like effect on the body, including your unborn baby. Some herbal teas can have negative side effects, ranging from allergies, dizziness, headache or nausea to toxic reactions or stimulation of the uterus.It is recommended that safe herbal teas should only be consumed a maximum of 2-3 times daily.
Herbals teas generally considered safe are:
Herbal teas generally NOT considered safe are:
elder flowers feverfew
life root (rag wort)
St. John's wort
uva ursi (bearberry)
The postnatal or postpartum period comes with it's own set of guidelines for exercise. Women looking to start a fitness program should seek guidance and approval from their doctor of physician first. Most doctors will recommend starting or beginning an exercise program 2 weeks or more postpartum for normal vaginal delivery and 4-6 weeks postpartum for a cesarean or traumatic vaginal birth. Keep in mind that this will be a gradual process and, again, everyone will develop on their unique time schedules.
Some changes that postpartum women may experience include (but are not limited to):
- Shrinking of the urinary tract
- Uterine cramps
- Breast Discomfort
- Vaginal dryness
All these mentioned above need to be taken into consideration when starting any exercise routine. Be aware of your body and be sure to contact your doctor if any abnormality arises.
Diastasis Recti is described as the complete or partial separation of the rectus abdominal muscle, caused by the widening of the linea alba which finally gives way to the mechanical stresses of a developing pregnancy. In case your wondering, the linea alba is a tendon of fibres that holds together either side of the abdominal walls.
Diastasis Recti is most common during the third trimester and immediately after birth (postpartum). The following conditions can cause diastasis recti:
- Maternal Hormones: Estrogen, progresterone and relaxin all cause the connective tissue to become looser and less supportive.
- Physical Stress: Increased pressure within the abdominal cavity can be cause by a number of factors including: fetus size, number of fetuses (twins or more), placenta size, amount of amniotic fluid and weight gain. Keep in mind also that your abdominal muscles are designed to function in a vertical direction, shortening and lengthening, however pregnancy needs require the abdominal wall to expand horizontally. This will cause strain in new areas of your abdominals.
- Weak Abdominals: Abdominal muscles that are not trained or strengthened, before or during pregnancy, may not be ready to handle the stresses placed on them. They may give way leading to diastasis recti.
In order to avoid this discomfort during and/or after pregnancy, it is important to: (1) take part in an exercise program that is geared towards strengthening your abdominal wall, (2) keep track of your food intake to ensure that your weight gain is minimal and/or equal to what is recommended by your doctor and (3) keep track of your progress and be in tune with your body so that you can recognise any abnormality.
Check back to "FanTasie Pre & Post Natal Fitness" for a list of exercise that are safe and effective to strengthen your abdominals.