Was exercise important to you before you got pregnant? Is exercise more important now that you’re a new breastfeeding mom? Or perhaps you want to make some healthy changes and get more active to be the very best mom you can be? As long as your health care provider gives you the green light, fitness can be a part of your pregnancy and your life as a new mom. Here’s what to keep in mind.
Health care professionals agree: women with uncomplicated pregnancies can work out throughout all three trimesters. If you were inactive before baby was on board, start with moderate exercise like swimming, walking and yoga. If you did something more intense, like running, aerobics or strength training before you got pregnant, yep, you can keep right on doing it. Click here to read the new revised guidelines and list of dos and don’ts (hot yoga, for example, is on the no list) from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), just issued in December 2015.
“There are all kinds of benefits to exercising while you’re pregnant—it decreases the risk of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, depression and preterm birth; it helps prevent back pain and sciatic pain; baby is better able to handle the stress of labor and delivery; and moms may recover more quickly post partum,” says Jennifer Johnson, a certified personal trainer and perinatal exercise specialist in Los Angeles, who blogs at her site, Baby Strong Workout.
Getting back into fitness after your babe arrives will depend on what kind of pregnancy and delivery you had. Generally, whether you had a vaginal delivery or a C-section, your doctor or midwife will clear you for mild to moderate exercise after about six to eight weeks, and you can go for walks and do those all-important pelvic muscle strengthening exercises well before that.
And here’s something you probably never heard before you were a preggo lady: diastasis recti. It’s the separation of two ab muscles down the middle of the belly. It’s pretty common during pregnancy, and if you don’t exercise correctly to help those muscles and connective tissues heal after your baby arrives, it can lead to incontinence, back pain, hernia or a post-baby pooch that persists long after you’ve delivered, says Johnson. Talk to your health care provider, and make sure your fitness instructor is qualified to address it (look for someone certified in post-natal fitness).
Then, get on out there: exercising after baby is not only healthy, it’s a fun way to socialize, bond with your little one, get out of the house or recharge with some me-time.