Guest blog post written by Nicole Moneer.
You may have wondered which are the most effective exercises new moms can do to stay strong and healthy. Many pregnant women and new moms think the best way to stay healthy is by doing cardio and strength training. But is it?
Safe Exercises New Moms Can Do
Exercising while pregnant is beneficial for most women. One of the safest and most effective workouts for all women preparing for childbirth is a Pilates core workout. Pilates workouts focus on building a strong core, flexibility, balance, and improving posture. Your core is your body's foundation. It is a group of muscles that incorporates every movement of your body, except those of your arms and legs.
These muscles stabilize movement, transfer forces between movements, and initiates some movements. Some of the hidden, deeper muscles of the core, the ones we typically train, include, but are not limited to are the transverse abdominal muscles, diaphragm, and pelvic floor. These are just a few of the important muscles used during childbirth. A weak core leads to dysfunction or injury in the body. Having a strong core is essential to preventing Diastisis-Recti and incontinence, prior to childbirth, and especially following a Cesarean-section birth.
Don't forget about taking care of your skin during this time as well. Drink plenty of water and lots of healthy fats. Using an organic body butter (like this one) will also help to keep your skin hydrated and healthy (and less likely to get stretch marks).
Exercises New Moms Shouldn't do Post-Pregnancy
Crunches and planks should be avoided during your pregnancy starting around 8-10 weeks. These are also two exercises new moms should avoid post-pregnancy for the first 12-16 weeks following your baby's arrival. Some moms may not be able to preform crunches or planks for a much longer period of time. Please make sure you do not have DR or incontinence before starting a post-pregnancy exercise program. I rarely if ever do crunches.
My Advice to You [Mom to Mom]
I teach all my clients to focus on their plates daily to get a flat tummy along with Pilates core work. I had a flat tummy prior to pregnancy because of the food choices I made and my Pilates workouts. Post-pregnancy my tummy took about 11 months to return back with nutrition and Pilates. I am still nursing my two year old son today. I had to grow a lot of patience in my transformation back. This was a tough pill for me to swallow given my career as a Chek Holistic Lifestyle Coach and former bikini model. Each mom has their own unique journey, avoid comparing your journey to another's and definitely nix the negative self-talk. Instead enjoy your baby and your body… that grew a little human and experienced childbirth.
Two Exercises New Moms Need Daily
The two exercises I would like to share with moms and moms-to-be are cat/cow pose and seated pelvic tilt on a stability ball. Both of these exercises are safe no matter where you are in your pregnancy and post-pregnancy journey. Both of these exercises stretch the hips, lower spine, back and core muscles. More importantly, they open up the lungs and help for better breathing which is essential during childbirth and in everyday life. When performing these exercises make it a point to inhale slowly through your nose and exhale slowly through your mouth.
Cat & Cow
On a mat get on your hands and knees, make sure your shoulders are directly over your wrists and your hips are directly over your knees. In cow pose your spine in long, inhale squeezing your shoulders blades together while slightly tilting your pelvis toward the floor. be sure not to bend your elbows. Exhale while rounding your back like a cat, tucking your chin in and looking at your beautiful belly. In cat pose be sure not to shift your weight forward or back, keep your hips over your knees and your shoulders over your wrists. Pretend like someone is punching you in the belly and you are rounding out your back. Perform 1-3 sets of 8-12 reps.
Seated on a stability that is for your height, place your feet hip width apart, look down to make sure your knees are directly over your ankles and your feet are straight (avoid turning your toes out or letting your knees cave in). Make sure your shoulders are stacked over your hips and you are sitting up nice and tall. Relax your shoulders and focus on squeezing your shoulder blades together. You can keep your hands at your hips or on your legs, whichever you prefer. Seated upright inhale through your nose, as you exhale tuck your hips under toward your knees. When you inhale your belly should rise as you fill it with air and as you exhale it should lower since you are pushing the air out. Perform 1-3 sets of 8-12 reps.