MOMentum Fitness - Krystina Nelson

Many studies show that exercise after childbirth helps with a myriad of things, including the risk of postpartum depression, helping to boost energy levels, and reducing stress. It is also a much needed time for mothers that allow them the “me” time they often do not get, and absolutely must have in order to recharge and restore self balance.

WHAT HAPPENS WHERE BABY GROWS? When pregnant, stomach muscles in the abdominal wall stretch and separate, causing a condition called diastasis recti. I could not believe how much my body stretched, and how much damage the expansion did to my abdominal muscles! In order to regain tone and reduce that gap of the muscles, special attention must be centered on the type and frequency of the exercises being demanded on this and other areas of a mother’s body.

SEE YOUR DOCTOR FIRST Depending on the type of childbirth a woman has, recovery time and the time off exercise can range from a few to several weeks. One should always consult their doctor - usually at their 6 week post natal visit - about when they may return to a physical fitness program, and any special limitations they may have at first.

CORE STRENGTHENING The core muscles should be the main target when beginning to reset one’s body after childbirth. The core includes much more than just the abdominals; the back, shoulders, hips, and chest are all parts of the core. While in utero, a baby (or babies, in my case!) affects hips and back alignment in many women. Lumbar and hip joint pain can arise. Then after a child is born, the mother’s increased breast size, loss of the counterweight that was the baby around her abdomen, and now carrying her newborn for hours a day, wears unrelentingly on one’s posture, causing neck pain, back pain and headaches. Therefore, the core is where its at. Once the body has ability to stabilize and muscles are revived from the pregnancy stage and one tired mama in the third trimester, other areas of the body will also get back on track.

1. Buy a good athletic support bra, especially if breastfeeding
2. Be mindful for lifting and weight restrictions, how much, how soon, and how often you’re lifting.
3. If you’re tired, you need rest. If you feel faint or nauseous, discontinue the exercise and sit. Ask for assistance!
4. Drink plenty of water. Nursing or not, you need to hydrate. Exhaustion from lack of sleep, taking care of your newborn (and other child(ren), if applicable), and nursing all heavily play on one’s performance in the gym and ability to sustain the energy that is required to properly and effectively work out.
5. If you are recovering from a Cesarean section birth, go easy on all exercises in the early stages. Nerves and muscles were severed, and it will take some time to get them back to some normalcy. This means months to a couple of years for some people!
6. Do not be hard on yourself. Make exercise fun and a special time for YOU.

As a mother, we all get into the cycle of parenting and routines that circumvent the child’s needs. The next thing realized is another week, month, or season has passed, and nothing has been allocated to benefit mom, and only mom. It is tough - I know it is - to make time for one’s self. A tired mother’s tank is running on empty practically all of the time. However, when you have nothing left, you also have nothing to give. It is pertinent to seek the outlet your body requires to maintain you as a healthy mother for your child(ren). No one suffers from participating in a healthy workout program, built to individual needs and designed around ability and personal schedule! Mothers don’t deserve time to themselves; it is mandatory that their children get their mother at her best authentic and functioning self. Carve out a little time in the schedule to fulfill your body’s needs to function better for your child. Every body wins.