Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor – Mommy Moves

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This month’s postpartum Mommy Moves exercise is a great squat preparation exercise to learn how to properly use your glutes instead of your quads. Strong glutes are essential to strengthen your pelvic floor after pregnancy. No matter how you delivered your baby, your pelvic floor needs some TLC after pregnancy.

Mommy Moves is a new monthly series that will highlight a great prenatal and postpartum exercise for you to try. If you have any requests of issues or body parts that you’d like us to address, please email us.

October Postpartum Mommy Move: Hip Hinge

Stand with feet hip width apart, toes pointed forward. Engage the core, slowly bend forward pushing the hips backward. Be careful not to round the lower back. Return to standing. Perform 1-3 sets of 12 reps.

strengthen your pelvic floor

Help Baby Get Into Position – Mommy Moves

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Kicking off our new Mommy Moves series with an exercise for pregnant moms that can help baby get into position for birth. This exercise is great for releasing the psoas muscle which can get super tight (thanks in large part to all of the sitting we do). Releasing the psoas can help baby descend and get into an optimal position for birth.

If you have any requests of issues or body parts that you’d like us to address in an upcoming Mommy Moves feature, please email us.

October Prenatal Mommy Move: Lunging Hip Flexor Stretch

Assume a half kneeling lunge position. Slowly lunge forward, making sure to keep the shin of the front leg vertical and the pelvis neutral. Hold for one minute each side.

help baby get into position

What should I do for exercise during pregnancy?

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What should I do for exercise during pregnancy?

exercise during pregnancyIf you’re reading this, chances are you know that you SHOULD be exercising during your pregnancy, but you don’t know exactly what to do. I hope this post helps guide you in the right direction. My goal is to give you a general guideline that you can use to determine the specific types of exercise that are appropriate for you.

The sad reality is that the majority of pregnant women don’t get the amount or type of exercise that’s recommended. Most pregnant women fall into one of these categories: no exercise at all, prenatal yoga only, or sporadic exercise mostly during the second trimester. The recommendation is for pregnant women to exercise for at least 30 minutes on most, if not all, days of the week. Research tells us that weight-bearing aerobic and resistance exercise have the most impact on critical health factors for mom and baby.

Assuming you’ve been cleared to exercise (talk to your doctor or midwife to be sure you don’t have a medical or obstetric condition that contraindicates exercising during pregnancy), here’s what you’ll want to be sure to include in your exercise program:

1. Weight-Bearing Aerobic Exercise

Weight-bearing aerobic exercise includes activities such as: walking, jogging, stair climbing and dancing. Walking is one of the best forms of weight-bearing aerobic exercise for pregnant women because it’s safe and effective for women of many fitness levels. If you’re just starting out, try walking for 10-15 minutes and as your fitness level improves, increase the time and pace.  Hill walking is great for women at higher fitness levels that want more of a challenge. Jogging/running gets a bad rap, but the truth is that it’s safe for some pregnant women and unsafe for others. It really depends on your exercise history, fitness level and how your body feels. Some women are able to safely continue running throughout their entire pregnancies while others can’t because of pain or discomfort. Now’s a good time to mention that exercise during pregnancy should ALWAYS make you feel better, not worse. You should never exercise to the point of pain or discomfort. If something hurts or doesn’t feel right, that’s your body’s way of telling you to stop. Don’t ignore those signs. If before pregnancy you enjoyed higher intensity exercise such as running or spinning, stair climbing can be a good alternative for you. Just walking up and down stairs can give you a great cardio workout while still keeping you and baby safe. Dancing is also another great form of weight-bearing aerobic exercise that’s enjoyable and safe for women of many fitness levels.

Quick aside to talk about non weight-bearing aerobic exercise…

There are other forms of aerobic exercise that aren’t weight-bearing and feel great during pregnancy. Swimming is a great alternative form of aerobic exercise. It especially feels great as you get bigger and exercising on land becomes more difficult or in the heat of the summer. The recumbent bike is another alternative form of aerobic exercise that many pregnant women enjoy, however some report discomfort when using the recumbent bike at the end of pregnancy when the belly is bigger. Doing non weight-bearing aerobic exercise is fine, just be sure to also include some form of weight-bearing aerobic exercise in your program.

2. Resistance Exercise

Resistance exercise (strength training) isn’t just about lifting heavy weights to get huge muscles like body builders. Strength training is good for all of us, including pregnant women. And you don’t have to lift super heavy weights to get the benefits from strength training. Dumbbells (appropriate for your fitness level), resistance bands and even your own body weight are great tools to use when doing resistance exercise during pregnancy. One example of a great exercise to incorporate into your routine during pregnancy is the squat. Depending on your fitness level, you can do them just with your body weight or add external resistance like dumbbells. If you need more guidance about specific resistance exercises to do (and what not to do), seek out a qualified prenatal exercise specialist.

3. Relaxation/Breathing/Stretching Exercises

Relaxation, breathing and stretching exercises are a great supplement to your exercise program, but should not be the only type of exercise you do. Relaxation and breathing techniques come in very handy during labor and delivery. Taking a prenatal yoga class is great at any point during your pregnancy, but especially in the third trimester. Aside from prenatal yoga, incorporating stretching (tailored for your specific needs and workout) into your cool down is a great way to end your workouts.

That’s a general outline of the types of exercise you’ll want to include in your prenatal exercise program. If you need more help figuring out specifically what’s right for you, contact us. One of our specialties is creating exercise programs for pregnant and new moms, which are tailored specifically for you and tell you exactly what to do and when. We’d love to put one together for you. And the good news is, you don’t have to live in Los Angeles (where we’re based) to work with us. We put programs together for women all over the world (yes, the world).

Boot Camp Classes During and After Pregnancy

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Boot Camp Classes During and After Pregnancy

boot camp classes during and after pregnancy

This is the second post in a series on popular exercise classes and what to keep in mind if you’re pregnant or a new mom. Today we’re talking about boot camp classes during and after pregnancy. Click here to read the first post in the series about spin classes.

Before we get into the specifics of boot camp classes, here is some general info to keep in mind regarding exercise classes…

If you’re pregnant:

  • Number one rule – listen to your body. Do what feels right and don’t compete with others in the class. We know it’s tempting to want to do everything others are doing but resist the urge and instead tune into your own body and go at a pace that feels right for you.
  • When possible, take prenatal specific classes (that are taught by QUALIFIED instructors). Unfortunately, there aren’t that many prenatal specific classes out there. The most common prenatal class is yoga. Prenatal Pilates classes are popping up here and there but definitely not as widespread as prenatal yoga classes.
  • Tell the instructor before class that you’re expecting and ask for modifications. This is also important so the instructor doesn’t push you to do things you’re not comfortable doing (which they shouldn’t do in the first place but some classes and instructors are taught with a “tough love” philosophy).

If you’re a new mom:

  • If you’re just getting back into exercise, don’t be surprised if it’s more difficult then before you were pregnant or even when you were pregnant. Take it slow and do what you can. You might not be able to finish an entire class and that’s okay.
  • The same tip applies here as for pregnant moms – listen to your body. It’s tempting to be competitive and do what everyone else is doing, but that could lead to injury or overdoing it if you’re not careful.
  • If you have urine leakage, changes in bleeding or pain, these are all signs that your body isn’t ready for that intensity/type of workout. Don’t ignore these signs.

Many group exercise instructors (not all) aren’t educated about prenatal/postpartum women. They might know some modifications but they probably won’t know what’s going on with your body or how to address questions/concerns that come up. Again, this doesn’t apply to all instructors but quite often this is the case. This makes it even more important to listen to your body and only do what feels right. If you’re unsure, seek out a qualified pre/post natal exercise specialist.

Now for the specifics about boot camp classes during and after pregnancy…

Typically, boot camp classes are pretty intense, usually featuring intense intervals throughout the hour-long class. Boot camp instructors tend to be more “tough” on participants than instructors of other types of exercise classes. Participants are encouraged to push themselves to the limit and then some. Because of the intensity of the class, the format and exercises typically included, and the emphasis to push past your comfort zone, boot camp isn’t the ideal type of class for pregnant moms and moms just getting back into exercise after pregnancy. There are, of course, exceptions, and boot camp classes might work for some women. Here are some things to keep in mind:

During Pregnancy:

  • If you haven’t taken the specific boot camp class you’re interested in BEFORE getting pregnant, we wouldn’t recommend starting during pregnancy. If you have taken the class before, be sure you know the instructor and are comfortable with him/her as well as the format of the class. Also, be sure to let the instructor know that you’re pregnant before class and talk in detail about modifications.
  • Again, boot camp classes are not the type of classes you should start taking during pregnancy.
  • Listen to your body and don’t push yourself too hard. As we mentioned before, typically boot camp classes encourage participants to push past their comfort zone. This isn’t something you should do during pregnancy. You should never push yourself to the point of overexertion or fatigue when exercising during pregnancy. Stop before you get to that point. A good way to monitor the intensity of exercise is to use the talk test (you should be able to comfortably speak…if you can’t, decrease your intensity or take a break). As we’ve written about before, monitoring your heart rate isn’t the recommended way to monitor intensity during pregnancy. If you missed our post on the topic, click here to read it.
  • Don’t do everything the instructor says if it doesn’t feel right to you. Even if the exercise has been modified…if it doesn’t feel good, don’t do it. You know your body better than anyone else.
  • Keep your body at a comfortable temperature. Dress appropriately and stay hydrated. If the class is outdoors and it’s too hot on a particular day, it’s probably best to skip class.
  • If the class incorporates weights, be flexible and open to adjusting the weight you use. You might not be able to lift as much as you did before pregnancy, which is normal and something you need to respect about your changing body.

After Pregnancy:

  • Boot camp isn’t the type of class we’d recommend taking until you have built up a strong foundation and have done less intense forms of exercise first.
  • Many women feel a strong temptation after pregnancy to do the most intense exercise they can, hoping to lose baby weight quickly. As the saying goes, slow and steady wins the race. Take the time to ease into exercise and if/when you feel that your body is ready for a class like boot camp, take it slow. Don’t push yourself past your comfort zone if your body is giving you signs that it’s not ready. Signs include: pain, bleeding and urine leakage. Women often feel embarrassed about urine leakage and choose to ignore it and continue exercising. Urine leakage is not to be ignored. It’s a sign that your pelvic floor is not ready for that type of exercise. Get help from a physical therapist or perinatal exercise specialist.
  • If you have diastasis recti, an abdominal separation that can occur during pregnancy, you need to get it corrected BEFORE starting other forms of exercise, including boot camp classes. We offer a personalized diastasis recti correction program, so contact us if you need help. If you had diastasis recti and it’s been properly corrected and you are doing the proper maintenance/monitoring, you shouldn’t have a problem taking boot camp classes.  Again, if you need help or have questions, contact us.

Be sure to sign up to receive our blog posts so you can read about all of the classes we’ll write about in this series. If you’d like us to write about a specific type of class, let us know in the comments below.

Spin Classes During and After Pregnancy

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Spin Classes During and After Pregnancy

spin classes during and after pregnancy

This is the first in a series of posts on popular exercise classes and what to keep in mind if you’re pregnant or a new mom. Today we’re talking about spin classes during and after pregnancy. Be sure to sign up to receive our blog posts so you can read about all of the classes we’ll write about in this series. If you’d like us to write about a specific type of class, let us know in the comments below.

Before we get into the specifics of spin classes, here is some general info to keep in mind regarding exercise classes…

If you’re pregnant:

  • Number one rule – listen to your body. Do what feels right and don’t compete with others in the class. We know it’s tempting to want to do everything others are doing but resist the urge and instead tune into your own body and go at a pace that feels right for you.
  • When possible, take prenatal specific classes (that are taught by QUALIFIED instructors). Unfortunately, there aren’t that many prenatal specific classes out there. The most common prenatal class is yoga. Prenatal Pilates classes are popping up here and there but definitely not as widespread as prenatal yoga classes.
  • Tell the instructor before class that you’re expecting and ask for modifications. This is also important so the instructor doesn’t push you to do things you’re not comfortable doing (which they shouldn’t do in the first place but some classes and instructors are taught with a “tough love” philosophy).

If you’re a new mom:

  • If you’re just getting back into exercise, don’t be surprised if it’s more difficult then before you were pregnant or even when you were pregnant. Take it slow and do what you can. You might not be able to finish an entire class and that’s okay.
  • The same tip applies here as for pregnant moms – listen to your body. It’s tempting to be competitive and do what everyone else is doing, but that could lead to injury or overdoing it if you’re not careful.
  • If you have urine leakage, changes in bleeding or pain, these are all signs that your body isn’t ready for that intensity/type of workout. Don’t ignore these signs.

Many group exercise instructors (not all) aren’t educated about prenatal/postpartum women. They might know some modifications but they probably won’t know what’s going on with your body or how to address questions/concerns that come up. Again, this doesn’t apply to all instructors but quite often this is the case. This makes it even more important to listen to your body and only do what feels right. If you’re unsure, seek out a qualified pre/post natal exercise specialist.

Now for the specifics about spin classes during and after pregnancy…

During Pregnancy:

  • We’ve said it before but we’re going to say it again…listen to your body and don’t push yourself too hard. We mention this specifically in regards to spin classes because they are often pretty high intensity classes. You can definitely modify the intensity by how much or how little you turn the resistance, but it’s still a pretty high intensity class. Monitor your intensity by stopping before you feel overexerted or fatigued or use the talk test (you should be able to comfortably speak…if you can’t, decrease your intensity or take a break). As we’ve written about before, monitoring your heart rate isn’t the recommended way to monitor intensity during pregnancy. If you missed our post on the topic, click here to read it.
  • Don’t do everything the instructor says if it doesn’t feel right to you. For example, getting up off your seat often, as is usually done in spin classes, might be too intense.
  • Be careful not to get too hot. Dress appropriately, stay hydrated and make sure there is plenty of cool air in the room.
  • Spin isn’t the type of class you’d want to start during pregnancy if you haven’t done it frequently before pregnancy.
  • Be sure to adjust the seat and handles appropriately. Arrive to class early and ask the instructor to help you set up your bike if you need help.
  • Upright bikes are uncomfortable for many pregnant women. If that’s the case for you and you’d still like to ride an indoor bike (outside of class), try a recumbent bike.

After Pregnancy:

  • Spinning might be uncomfortable depending on your birth (for example, if you had an episiotomy, a tear or a c-section) and the healing process. As we said before, pain and bleeding are signs not to be ignored.
  • Be sure to adjust the seat and handles appropriately to prevent back pain, which you are at an increased risk for due to weakened abdominal muscles in the postpartum period.
  • Spin classes are usually pretty high intensity so we wouldn’t recommend this type of workout until you have built up a good foundation and have done other less intense forms of exercise first.

Mom’s Too Tired to Exercise

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Mom’s Too Tired to Exercise

too tired to exerciseRecently we asked our Facebook followers for challenges they face in trying to fit exercise into their daily lives. Fatigue was one of the answers. As one mom of two explains, “It’s hard to get up early in the morning because the baby doesn’t sleep through the night. It’s hard to do it at night because after I finally get the toddler to bed I’m ready for bed myself.”

Sound familiar? Being a mom is hard work. Simply put, it’s exhausting. Very rewarding…but still exhausting. If you compartmentalize exercise from the rest of your life, it can seem impossible to get away for an hour several times a week to workout. If you find yourself in this situation, what can you do? Fit it in throughout your day…

First off, I don’t recommend cutting into your sleep time to exercise. Everyone needs sleep. Moms with young children especially need sleep. We don’t get enough as it is, so what little we do get needs to be protected.

Since you’re not cutting into your sleep time, you’ll need to exercise when you’re awake. I’m sure some of you are laughing right now, since your day is already jam packed and you can’t possibly slip away to workout. No need to. Here are some ways to fit exercise in throughout your day:

  • If you have a baby, strap on your carrier (or just hold him/her) and do a workout WITH your baby. Here is a Baby Weight Workout and here is a Babywearing Circuit Workout. Stay tuned for more baby weight and babywearing workouts to be posted soon.
  • If you have a toddler or older child, incorporate him/her into your workout. Click here for some fun ideas.
  • Assign exercises to some household tasks that you regularly do throughout the day. For example, do 10 squats every time you wash your hands. Click here for more ideas.
  • Do a quick 5 minute energizing workout right after you wake up and then do another 5 minute workout in the evening. Here’s one idea that I like to do that coincidentally is also a great way to track your progress over time – pick one exercise and do as many reps as you can in 5 minutes. So, for your energizing morning workout I’d recommend choosing an exercise that will get your heart pumping, such as jumping jacks, fast squats, jump squats, mountain climbers or burpees. For your evening workout, core exercises are a good choice.

Body After Baby – Lorna Jane Clothing Review

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Lorna Jane Clothing Review 

lorna jane clothing reviewIn the postpartum period most women feel a bit awkward about their bodies. During pregnancy the body grows and stretches and then after delivery when things are shifting around and shrinking down on the inside the outside is left stretched out and squishy. It’s also an awkward time in terms of clothing. In most cases, pregnancy clothes don’t fit and pre-pregnancy clothes don’t fit either. Even if you’re back to your pre-pregnancy weight right after delivery, your pre-pregnancy clothes often don’t fit quite the same. It could be that your hips expanded or that you have the typical postpartum belly. One thing or another makes your clothes not fit as they did before. Like I said, awkward time.

It’s hard enough to get motivated to exercise after having a baby…and then you add on the body awkwardness and clothes that don’t fit. What to do? My suggestion – buy something new! As many of you know, I recently gave birth to a baby boy (that’s him in the photo on the left). When I started getting back into exercising the last thing I wanted to do was wear old workout clothes or the clothes I exercised in while I was pregnant. I needed a fresh start and fortunately that fresh start came just in time – a package of workout clothes sent to me by Lorna Jane. I was sent a sports bra, top and pants. I’ve worn the outfit several times for a variety of different workouts and activities. Here’s my take on the clothes…

lorna jane clothing reviewQuality

Great quality! The clothes are clearly well made. I only buy good quality workout clothes (since I’m in them so much and they help motivate me) and these Lorna Jane clothes are at the top of my list.

Fit

I’ll admit that I wasn’t looking forward to putting on fitted workout clothes just a few short weeks after giving birth (yes, even a personal trainer feels postpartum body awkwardness). But surprisingly they fit pretty well. The top is flattering and doesn’t cling to the spots I’d rather not highlight at the moment. The sports bra fits perfectly, which was also surprising since I’m nursing and I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to get such a good fit. The top of the waistband on the pants doesn’t fit exactly as I would like it to. It doesn’t have as much give as I think is needed for a changing postpartum body, but in all fairness they aren’t designed as postpartum pants. The rest of the waistband does provide a good amount of support for my postpartum belly.

Durability

I haven’t had the clothes long enough to really assess their durability but they have been through the baby test several times. That is, they’ve been spit up on quite a few times and stretched in all sorts of directions by my active baby and they’ve survived.

Look

I love the color of the top and the sports bra. That deep blue/purple and yellow…who wouldn’t?!

Out of the three pieces the top is my favorite followed by the sports bra and then the pants. I will definitely buy Lorna Jane workout clothes in the future. If you haven’t tried the clothes yet, give them a shot. They just might give you the confidence boost you need to get back into exercise after having a baby.

Lorna Jane provided Fit for Expecting with three articles of clothing for the purposes of this review. Fit for Expecting was not required to write certain things about the clothes. The thoughts expressed in this review are our own.

Babywearing Circuit Workout

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Babywearing Circuit Workout – GUEST POST

We’re thrilled to share this post and workout from guest contributor Beth Jones. Like most moms, Beth struggles with fitting exercise into her busy life as a mom. Read on to hear how she does it and then try out her babywearing circuit workout.  

babywearing circuit workoutI am a late-in-life mom. My son was born when I was 36 years old, and my daughter at the ripe age of 39. While I waited to start my own family, I had time to observe other moms of young children and began to plan my life as a mom. Before I became pregnant with my son, I was a competitive rower, active hiker, and overall pretty fit chick. I taught PE, I was an athletic trainer and a personal trainer, and spent my days teaching others to be healthy and fit. I pictured myself as one of those very fit stay-at-home-moms who spent the mornings running with their double stroller and two dogs, or days at the gym while my kids happily played in the childcare center. This isn’t happening quite as I planned.

I went into my second pregnancy overweight and the opposite of fit, having fallen victim to the stresses of my job. I did my best to get myself in shape during my pregnancy, with that promise to myself that I would make my health and fitness top priority as soon as I was cleared to workout again. I quickly realized that my dreams of being a superfit mommy gym rat just weren’t going to happen. First, my daughter hates the daycare, and I was lucky to get 20 minutes to myself before I was called to get my screaming child. Second, with the loss of my income (I now stay home with the kids), we just couldn’t afford the cost of the gym. I decided that I needed to put my education to use and become my own trainer. I thought about getting up before my kids, but with a 9-month-old who is not sleeping through the night, early mornings just don’t work for me. Naptime for the kids is naptime for mommy, which basically left me with trying to workout in our basement while keeping the kids occupied. My rower has turned into a track for Thomas the Train, and my attempts at yoga usually end with me as a bridge and the baby trying to latch on during my savasana. Not so relaxing. My son is old enough to entertain himself for about a half hour, so the problem became the baby.

My solution? She’s a chunker (20 pounds at 9 months old), so she became my weight. I’ve created a circuit training routine for myself where I can incorporate my daughter into the exercises. Three days a week I either hold her or strap her in the carrier and get my workout in. The other days of the week I do my best to jump on the rower for some cardio or push the kids in the stroller for a long power walk. When the weather is nice, I take my workout outside — either wearing the baby or using the stroller for a circuit workout. This solution has been my savior. Not only have I been able to fit workouts into my schedule, but I’m happy to say that below my pre-pregnancy weight and working towards the weight I was before my first pregnancy. The added benefit is actually the time that I get to spend with my kids. My son loves to try doing some of the exercises with me, and my daughter gets her much needed mommy time. Of course my nutrition is also a huge contributor to my success, but the “I have no time” excuse for not working out doesn’t work for me anymore. These exercises are super easy and can really help a busy mama reach her goal.

Workout

babywearing circuit workoutWhen choosing a carrier for this workout, use one that supports from knee-to-knee, and wear your baby facing you to ensure maximum support.

This workout is formatted into a circuit incorporating strength and cardio. The entire workout should take about 30-40 minutes, but could take longer depending on the number of “interruptions” you encounter. Each circuit should take about 5 minutes to complete. Be sure to add your own 5 minute warm-up before starting this workout and another 5 minute cool down at the end.

This circuit features opposing muscle group exercises, and will give you a full body workout. Grab a timer (I used the one on my phone) and set it for 1 minute. For each exercise in the circuit, do as many reps as you can in 1 minute. If you get tired, take a break, and then try to jump back in. You’ll do 2 sets of each strength exercise, and then 1 set of the cardio before moving on to the next circuit (Move A, Move B, Move A, Move B, Cardio). These exercises are designed to be performed while wearing your baby. Have fun!

Circuit 1

  • Move A: Plie Squat – Start with legs in a wide stance with toes pointed out. Squat down into the plie. As you rise back to standing squeeze your glutes & zip your thighs together. Repeat.
  • Move B: Lunge with a Twist – These can be static or walking. Bring your right leg forward. As you lunge down, rotate your upper body towards your right leg. Rotate back to center as you rise from the lunge. If you’re doing walking lunges, lift the left leg back squeezing the glute, as you swing it through for the next lunge. If you’re doing stationary lunges, stay on one side either for 30 seconds or the entire set. Switch to the left leg at 30 seconds or for the second set.
  • Cardio: Front Kicks – Bend knees into a shallow squat, holding your arms up by your shoulder or holding on to your baby. Raise your right knee and exhale as you kick out. Inhale, lower your leg and switch sides.

Circuit 2

  • Move A: Wall Push-ups – Stand facing the wall with your hands on the wall at shoulder level. Walk your feet out behind you to about 1 foot (the more angled you are, the tougher this exercise will be). Exhale as you straighten your arms and push away from the wall. Inhale, bend your arms and return to the starting position. Please be mindful of your baby’s head — we don’t want to bonk it.
  • Move B: Single-leg Deadlift – Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, keeping your knees soft. Place your hands on baby for extra support. Shift your weight to your right leg and raise your left leg straight behind you. Inhale, and while keeping chest lifted and back straight, bend forward towards your knees. Exhale, push through your right foot, and return to standing maintaining the straight-back position. Switch sides.  *This exercise can also be done while standing on both legs if balance is a problem for you.
  • Cardio: Cross Jabs – Stand with your feet a bit wider than hip width and knees slightly bent. Hold the your arms  at chest height with elbows bent and palms facing each other. Extend your left arm across your body until it is in line with your right shoulder. As you return to start, repeat with the right arm.

Circuit 3

  • Move A: Bicep Pulls – Find something that you can grab on to that will hold your weight (banister, door jam, heavy furniture, a tree, etc.). Face the banister and hold on to it securely with your hands and your elbows bent. Make sure your feet are fairly close to the object (the closer your feet are, the harder the exercise will be). Inhale, lean back and straighten your arm. Exhale as you pull yourself back to a standing position.
  • Move B: Dips – Find a sturdy chair, coffee table, or park bench. Sit on the chair, with your arms slightly behind your back and your fingers facing forward. Walk your feet out and lift your hips so that they are just off the end of the chair. Straighten your arms, then inhale and then bend your elbows, lowering your hips towards the floor. Exhale and straighten arms to raise back up.
  • Cardio: High Knees – Bring opposite elbow to knees, alternating while “marching.”

Circuit 4

  • Move A: Curtsy Squat – Start in a standing position with legs about shoulder-width apart. Step back and behind with your right leg, squatting down on your left leg (like you’re curtsying). Straighten your left leg and bring your right leg back in line. Repeat a full minute on one leg. Switch sides for the second set.
  • Move B: Calf Raises – Standing with feet about hip-width apart. Raise up on your toes and then lower back down (legs stay straight). You can perform these on just one leg for an added challenge.
  • Cardio: Step-ups – Use a step, stairs, phone books, etc. to step up and down.

Resuming exercise after giving birth – is six weeks the magic number?

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Resuming exercise after giving birth – is six weeks the magic number?

Resuming exercise after giving birthMost women have heard, from one source or another, that you need to wait six weeks before resuming exercise after giving birth. The implication is that exercise before six weeks is unsafe and then magically at six weeks you have the green light to do anything and everything.

Like most things, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all guideline when it comes to how long after giving birth to wait before resuming exercise. So, six weeks isn’t the magic number that applies to all postpartum moms. Some moms can resume exercise before the six week mark and for others six weeks is too soon.

Unfortunately, in a general blog post such as this, I can’t give you an answer as to how long you personally should wait. But I can give you some tips on how you can go about determining what your time frame is.

  • First and foremost, how do you feel? Much like paying attention to how your body felt when exercising during pregnancy, you need to cue into your body to figure out when you’re ready to resume physical activity.
  • Have you had a conversation with your doctor or midwife about resuming physical activity? If you’re feeling physically ready, talk with your healthcare provider and make sure there aren’t any medical reasons why you shouldn’t exercise quite yet.
  • If you feel physically ready and your healthcare provider gives you the go-ahead, resume physical activity gradually. This is really important and a tip that is often ignored. It’s tempting to jump back into exercise, perhaps even at pre-pregnancy intensity and frequency. Your body has been through a lot and is still recovering from pregnancy and childbirth. The smartest and safest plan is to gradually re-introduce exercise, while continually paying attention to your body. Pain, urine leakage and changes in bleeding are all signs that your body is not ready for that level of activity.

For personalized support and direction on specifically what your postpartum exercise routine should consist of, sign up for our custom online postpartum exercise plan. After getting to know you, we’ll develop an entire exercise plan that will safely and effectively re-introduce exercise into your life and help you reach your goals.

Before beginning any postpartum exercise program, be sure to check for diastasis recti, a separation of the abdominal muscles that can occur during pregnancy. For instructions on how to check yourself, watch our simple how-to video

39 Weeks Pregnant & Still Exercising. Why?

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I’m 39 weeks pregnant (well actually 39 weeks and several days to be exact) and still exercising daily. Since so many women have stopped exercising by this point in pregnancy, I thought I’d share why I’m sticking with it. Hopefully some of my reasons for continuing to exercise will inspire others to maintain a regular exercise program throughout pregnancy.

39 weeks pregnant - fit for expecting

It makes me feel good

Physically and mentally. Exercising during pregnancy should always make you feel better not worse. I do activities that make me feel good, and those can vary depending on the day. Listening to my body and being flexible allows me to continue to exercise safely and to actually enjoy it!

For my baby’s health

Research shows several health benefits for babies of moms who regularly exercise throughout their entire pregnancies. Benefits include a reduced risk of developing future weight problems, improved ability to handle the stresses of labor and delivery, improved ability to adjust to life outside of the womb and improved neurological development.

For my health

Research also shows several health benefits for moms who regularly exercise throughout their entire pregnancies. Reduced risk of developing gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, postpartum depression. Reduced risk of preterm birth. Reduced need for medical interventions during labor and delivery. Improved ability to lose both weight and fat after delivery.

To prepare my body for labor and delivery

Exercise is a great way to prepare your body for labor and delivery. Labor and delivery is a significant physical event and the right kind of “training” is essential…much like training for a marathon. Here are just a few examples of childbirth prep exercises: stability ball childbirth prep, squatting, exercise trick to help the baby engage in the pelvis.

To help me recover from childbirth

Staying physically fit during pregnancy works wonders during the recovery process. Regardless of the type of delivery you have, your body goes through a lot and needs to heal and recover after. Exercising during pregnancy helps make the post-pregnancy recovery process easier and faster.

To reduce pregnancy aches and pains

The right kind of exercise done regularly throughout pregnancy reduces (or even eliminates in some cases) typical pregnancy aches and pains. But the trick is that you have to keep exercising in order to keep the pains away. Research has shown that women who stop exercising at some point during pregnancy often experience an emergence of aches and pains after stopping.

To strengthen my body for the challenges of motherhood

Motherhood brings with it a multitude of challenges, but in this case I’m referring to the physical challenges of having a baby – all of the lifting, carrying, bending and twisting. Babies are heavy and keep getting heavier. Then add on all of the baby stuff. Motherhood requires strength in specific areas and exercising during pregnancy (and then continuing after baby is born) will help you lift, carry, bend and twist pain-free.

What are your reasons for continuing to exercise?

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