The miracle of birth and the road to recovery
My wife was in active labor for nearly 12 hours, a marathon session but certainly not the worst delivery story ever. She delivered without the aid of pain-relievers and was, in fact, given pitocin to speed up the contractions. In the end there was a lot of unplanned pushing… hard pushing. You might be able to relate.
As she recovered she wondered if her abdominal, uterine, and urinary muscles would ever be the same. And the simple answer is (typically) “yes.” It might take some time but they should recover. And what about the weight loss? Maybe you were right on track for your weight gain and have little to lose but many new mothers found that they overshoot their goals a bit and have to lose more than they ever have in their life. There are ways to help speed the process:
Rest – ensuring that you don’t overdo it is key; let your body tell you when it is ready for the next step.
Breastfeed – It isn’t always possible but it is great for baby and great for you, the hormones released during lactation help burn excess fat and calories and tighten the uterine muscles automatically.
Eat nutritious foods – The same rules apply after birth as they would at any other time, keep your diet high in simple, natural ingredients. Avoiding fried, processed, and fast foods is a great way to ensure that you are replenishing needed nutrients for yourself and your breastfeeding baby. I know that is easier said than done in the midst of dealing with a needy infant but you will both be thankful for the effort.
Begin a light exercise regimen – Most medical organizations such as the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommend that you get clearance from your physician before beginning a new exercise routine. In the absence of complications they suggest that you start slow, walking for instance, for the first few weeks. If you were a regular exerciser through your pregnancy the odds are you will be able to pick up with active exercise within a month of delivery (assuming you are getting that ever-important rest).
Consider an exercise regimen that offers you full-body strength development especially on that emphasizes complete core care. Keep it modest on the intensity scale unless you are accustomed to high intensity workouts throughout the first half of your pregnancy. Try out group postnatal workout classes, see what works for you and what doesn’t. And remember that you aren’t limited to running with a jogging stroller to get back in shape.
Don’t neglect those muscles that were so important to your delivery – the muscles in the abdomen and pelvic floor went through a lot of trauma, especially in the case of a cesarean section delivery. Treat them well and understand that you may have gently retrain them to do their work correctly. Core work can be some of the most despised exercises in the fitness world but it is important, especially postnatal to tighten your abs (we aren’t talking six-pack regimens) and rebuild the core support for your organs, your back, and their supporting musculature.
After 11 months - her goal was a year - my wife had lost all of her baby weight (60lbs) with the help of these above tips. She regained that core strength and now she’s now gearing up for our second.
Feel free to contact me and discuss your prenatal and postnatal exercise concerns or questions.