9 Months on, 9 Months Off

Rebounding from pregnancy and delivery is a process. You think that you should loose the baby weight and be back where you were before. Here is the reality of the postpartum woman: It took nine months to gain the weight, allow at least that long on the way back.

In addition to your body housing a growing baby and the extra weight it took on for the job, many other changes occurred. The hormone relaxin was released in your body to loosen your joints. This hormone helped your pelvis adjust for your growing baby. Just because you delivered your beautiful bundle of joy, doesn't mean your skeletal structure returns to its previous position. Your hips bones may be wider, and that isn't necessarily a bad thing!

Muscular changes are also apparent; a lengthened Trapezius, hand-in-hand with tightened pectorals, lead to forward shoulders. The weight of the breasts can cause discomfort as milk production begins, as well. The energy needed to care for a newborn can lead to fatigue and muscle pain. All that being said, go easy on yourself. 
Beginning a workout after giving birth can be intimidating, but as you get in to a regular routine, you will start to see some very profound strides towards lean muscle mass and the reduction of fat. In addition, you will lower your resting heart rate, expand your cardiovascular threshold, sculpt your muscles and gain more energy along the way.

You may, in fact, be healthier now versus pre-pregnancy! How about that? So, you don't fit in your old jeans? So, the number on the scale isn't what it was when you were single? Great! Celebrate this change in life. Enjoy the beautiful and glorious gift of being able to bring a child into the world. Enjoy your health, your energy, your everyday victories and the moment by moment, overwhelming joy of being "Mom". Above all, go easy on yourself. It is about the journey!

Nine Months Off

Here are some month-by-month tips for getting back into shape after baby:
Month 1
Focus on reconditioning your core--abdominals and pelvic floor muscles--with gentle pelvic rocks and kegels. The pelvic floor can actually drop up to one inch just from pregnancy. These exercises can begin in the hospital bed (barring pain).
Month 2
Start gentle walking. Start with a 5 to 15 minute gentle walk and slowly increase time and intensity. Exercise at this point should be stress relieving not stress producing.

Month 3
Take baby out for a stroller workout. Include hills, intervals with changing your speed, and focus on good posture. Good stroller walking form includes leading with your chest, keeping hips close to the stroller handles, shoulder blades pulled back and down, abdominals engaged and wrists in neutral alignment with the arm.
Month 4
Use your baby as a weight and work out with baby. Try crunches with baby on your belly or hip bridge with he/she on your stomach as resistance. Even wearing the front carrier can be a workout. Try scapular retractions--pulling shoulder blades toward spine--with the weight of the carrier as resistance!
Month 5
Even if you're not nursing, continue to eat as if your food fuels your baby. Chances are you'll make better choices for your baby then for yourself. Remember to choose whole foods, fruits and vegetables
Month 6
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. You should be drinking eight 8 oz glasses of water a day. Add another glass for each hour of activity.

Month 7
Make sure you're eating often enough...instead of a few big meals a day, try to eat five to six mini meals throughout the day.
Month 8
Consistency is key. You should be working out 30 to 60 minutes on most, if not all, days of the week. It doesn't have to be a traditional workout to count as activity.
Month 9
You're a role model mom. Focus on health and wellness instead of a size or a number on the scale. Children understand sooner than you think!

Farel Hruska has over 16 years experience as a personal trainer and group fitness instructor. She is the National Fitness Director for Stroller Strides holding Stroller Strides certifications throughout the country and supporting hundreds of instructors nationwide.

Hruska is a national educator and presenter in pre/postnatal fitness education. Farel is also a CEC provider for the American Council on Exercise and Aerobics (ACE) and The Fitness Association of America (AFAA). farel@strollerstrides.com

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