5 Tips For Working Out Before And After Baby

Written by: Jill Stein

Exercise during pregnancy is an important part of managing the changes that occur to your body in order to accommodate the growing baby. An exercise program will help you feel your best, help you sleep and help keep your weight gain to a healthy amount. Exercise will also help you in the labor room, and it is never too late to start.

Get clearance from your care provider before starting an exercise routine:

1. Cardiovascular exercise should be the cornerstone of your workout. You will need stamina during labor. Listen to your body as to how hard to work. You should be able to breathe freely without being out of breath, but should also feel your heart and lungs working.
2. Strength training is important for keeping your body stable. If you are starting a routine, start with small weights and move to heavier weights once you can easily lift the lighter weight for more than 12 repetitions.
3. Focus on your core: abdominal and pelvic floor muscles. In addition to needing strong abdominal muscles for pushing during labor, you need them to support your back during pregnancy. Your pelvic floor holds the weight of the baby and needs to be exercised to be strong. Do your Kegels every day. If you are not sure how to perform Kegels, talk to your care provider at your next appointment.
4. Stretching is important, but don’t overstretch. Due to hormone and other changes during pregnancy, women should not push stretches to 100%. Keep stretches comfortable with held stretches rather than bouncing.
5. Keep moving throughout your pregnancy. On the days you feel well, do more, on the days you are tired, do less. As you are nearing the end of your pregnancy, slow down if you need to but keep moving.
 
For an after baby routine, keep it simple until you get clearance from your care provider to go back to regular exercise. Also, make sure you are getting some sleep:
 
1. Go for a walk every day. The walk will be as good for your mind as it is for your body.
2. Focus on your core. Start with belly breaths and Kegels as soon as you can after the birth. These activities will help increase blood flow and speed your healing. Do these exercises to your level of comfort.
3. Be aware of your posture. Think about how you are standing, sitting and holding the baby. A tall neutral spine will help limit neck and back pain.
4. Moving and stretching. These will help keep your muscles strong as your body works on reverting back to a non-­â€pregnancy state.
5. Be patient with yourself. Focus on activities that help you relax.
 
For information on Northwestern Integrative Medicine’s Prenatal or Postnatal classes, please go to http://classes.nmh.org/listing/all or call 1-­877-­926-­4664.
Posted on June 25, 2013 at 12:56 PM