Guest blogger: Jenny Skoog, is a personal trainer, birth coach, childbirth educator, and master trainer in pre-and-postnatal fitness. Learn more at Skoogfit.
Having a baby wreaks havoc on a woman's body. With new demands of motherhood like nursing and lack of sleep on top of childbirth recovery, "real life" can be daunting. In the beginning, it's difficult to imagine getting in any "me" time. A workout? HA! I can't even take a shower! Being a mom is a 24/7 job. It's no wonder new moms suffer from common aches and pains, like:
- Poor posture, back and neck pain
- Achy knees, hips and wrists
- Mushy midsection
- Weak pelvic floor
When your doctor blesses you with the almighty exercise clearance, where on earth should you begin? How hard should you push yourself? Should you crunch the muffin- top away? And how can you get sexy back? First, answer the following questions to determine how long you should wait before embarking upon a new fitness journey:
- How was your birth experience? Uncomplicated vaginal births will put you back in the gym within 3-6 weeks, but a C-section birth can delay your doctor's clearance by 6-9 weeks.
- How is your recovery coming along?Are you sleeping at least 7 hours per night (even if it's broken up)? Do you have any residual childbirth pain? Do you feel ready to exercise?
- Did you exercise during pregnancy? Begin where you left off. If you were doing prenatal yoga and going for walks, start there. Increase intensity every week or two, depending on how your body feels.
Something tells me you're dying to get rid of that muffin top. Since you can't crunch away a mushy midsection ('spot toning' doesn't work), lose overall fat with twice-weekly strength training workouts, a couple cardio interval sessions and an overall well- balanced diet.
If you're breastfeeding, you're in luck. Did you know that each ounce of breast milk is 20 calories? That's around 500 calories burned per day! Since there are 3,500 calories in a pound, that's a deficit of one pound per week! Be careful, though: extreme workouts (and extreme soreness) can sour breast milk leading to a cranky baby with a tummy ache. Err on the side of caution in the first few months.
Diastasis Recti is a split in the abdominal wall due to pregnancy: muscles must stretch in order to make room for the growing fetus. After childbirth, muscles should come back together, but can take up to a year to reconnect. In some cases, women experience a permanent separation and are at greater risk for umbilical hernia and abdominal weaknesses. Even if you don't have diastasis, your core is in a compromised state. Be sure to engage that core during any lifting exercise both in the gym and at home.
Perform this workout (or parts of it, as time permits) once or twice weekly in addition to your current program.
- foam roller
- yoga mat
- theraband or resistance band: light and medium resistance
1. Foam roll tight muscles for 30+ sec
- upper back
2. Stretch tight muscles for 30+ sec
- low back
- hip flexors
3. Perform the following exercises for 20 repetitions or 30 seconds each, twice
- hip bridges
- elbow plank
- dead bugs
- bird dogs
- modified elbow side plank
- theraband external shoulder rotation
4. Perform the following 3 circuits for 3 rounds of each. Be sure to learn proper form:
- 20 medium-resistance theraband rows
- 20 bodyweight squats
10 pushups (modify as necessary)
- 10 lateral lunges each leg
- 15 reverse flys with light theraband
- 10 1-leg deadlifts each leg
Do you have diastasis? Perform the following exercises 3-4 times per week in addition to your regular routine:
- 20 hip bridges
- 15-45 second elbow plank and side planks
- 20 torso rotations
- core engagement throughout the day
REMEMBER: Spend exercise time wisely! Focus on intensity and form instead of time spent. A well- programed, quality workout done in 20 minutes is better than 40 minutes of steady-state cardio.
Jenny Skoog specializes in women’s fitness from bride-to-baby. She is also a birth coach, a childbirth educator and master trainer in pre-and-postnatal fitness. Jenny launched her own fitness and health business, Skoogfit, a way of life for women seeking help with all aspects of their health picture. In 2013, she starred in her own TV show, Pushing It, and was nominated for an Emmy Award in 2014.