Thursday, February 23, 2012

Body After Baby…

7 DAYS POSTPARTUM [ with baby #2 ]


3 DAYS POSTPARTUM:                              7 DAYS POSTPARTUM:

1 week post partum 9


1 month post partum

During my first pregnancy, my mind was consumed with having a healthy baby and preparing to be a mom, but I also wondered (and worried) about my body and how it would change as a result of pregnancy. In the end there were no permanent changes. My body returned to it’s original weight and muscle tone, my skin went back to being firm and did not get any stretch marks, and my diastasis recti healed. Now, after my second pregnancy my body is following the same pattern of recovery…

I want to share what I’ve done to help my body along because I believe it’s possible for most if not all women to achieve similar results, but first I want to say 2 things:

1. For those of you who struggle with weight. I’m not someone whose been effortlessly skinny and never had to think twice about my health. As a teen I spent 2 years being 20-25 lbs over my ideal weight with borderline high blood pressure and knee problems as a result. During my sophomore year of college I began to make lifestyle changes that completely turned every aspect of my health around. It was a short battle but I know how it feels to be stuck under that cloud. I also know that it’s 100% possible for any of you to make changes that will permanently improve your health. 

2. In reality once you have your baby in your arms your confidence will never again depend on having a body that is perfect at every inch. It will come from seeing your children thrive, building a partnership that is harmonious, doing work (at home and beyond) that inspires your family and supports their needs, and from being healthy enough to enjoy it all. If you’d told me that a few years ago I wouldn’t have believed you, because as a dancer and fitness nut about 90% of my self-esteem came from being fit. But I can promise you, it’s absolutely true.


#1 Eating a Healthy Diet – I believe that eating a healthy diet and drinking 10 glasses of water daily before and during pregnancy made a huge difference in my ability to bounce back postpartum. It helped me to gain weight slowly and steadily, stay within the recommended 25-30 pound gain, and it gave me the energy and nutrients I needed to avoid bad cravings and overeating. I think if you do nothing else for yourself and your baby, this is probably the most important thing you can work on to have a healthy baby and bounce back afterwards. To see a sample of my daily diet, check out month 4 of my Natural Pregnancy page.

#2 Weleda Stretch Mark Oil – I used this 4-6 times a day during both pregnancies in combination with 4 other steps described on the Natural Pregnancy page to help avoid stretchies.

#3 Bounce Back Fast DVD – Starting at about 4 weeks postpartum I used this DVD (and the included theraband) to help repair my diastasis recti. A talk with a trainer at my gym made it clear that not every fitness expert knows how to handle this issue, but perinatal exercise specialist Helene Byrne has designed two 30 minute workouts containing simple, effective exercises that repair the separation of the abdominals and flatten the abdominal wall. It also works on correcting your posture and restoring flexibility and core strength. I love that the workouts are short, extremely gentle and can be started soon after birth. But not to worry, Byrne points out that it’s never too late to repair your abdominal separation.

#4 The Cinch Postpartum Belly Wrap – This seemed gimmicky at first but after reading about widespread cultural traditions of postpartum belly binding, I decided to give it a try. After both pregnancies belly wrapping had a noticeable impact on the return of my stomach to it’s orignal flat shape. After my second pregnancy, belly wrapping and hot compresses helped tremendously with my after pains. Unlike most belly bands, the Cinch offers 360 even compression as well as compartments for hot/cold compresses.

#5 Breastfeeding – This has to be the most fulfilling and effortless way to burn 500 calories a day, month after month. Nursing on demand (and pumping when I was at work) helped me to shrink down to my pre-pregnancy weight within 6 months without any high impact exercise.

#6 Bikram Yoga – I’ve always had great results with Bikram and loved the fact that you don’t have to wait long to see results. After just one class I feel different, and if I can manage to go more than once a week I experience a rapid transformation in muscle tone, flexibility and mental clarity (I’m much less of a stress case). It’s physically and mentally challenging even if you only attend once a week. So it’s perfect for those of us (ahem…mamas) who are short on time and need a quick but effective fitness routine.




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