One of my coworkers trains a local DJ, and these training sessions led to a standing weekly segment on the radio where (obviously) he talks about fitness with his client (the DJ). This week, they wanted to focus on prenatal and postpartum fitness and since neither one of them is a female, they brought one in (me) to offer some perspective. This was my first time on the radio and I have to say—it was pretty fun. Now, I know for a fact that some of my readers are expecting (and out of the listening area of this particular station), so I thought I'd repeat right here some of the tips I talked about.
PRENATAL FITNESS TIPS
1) Keep an open dialogue with your doctor. Every pregnancy is different, and your doctor will know yours better than anyone. If you need to be restricted in any way, or are experiencing side effects of any type, only your doctor can give you the best advice possible.
2) At the very least, walk. We were born to walk, pregnant or not, so get up and move. Walking is highly adaptable, and that's one thing you'll need to be when it comes to working out while pregnant. You can walk fast, and you can also walk slow—which is probably something you'll be doing as you near your due date. Just remember, the more you sit, the less you do yourself any justice (pregnant or not, of course). Physical activity keeps the blood flowing, the heart pumping, the weight gain at a minimum and the spirits high.
3) Lower your expectations. You're pregnant. Don't expect to keep up with your non-preggo self. It's perfectly fine to slow down at the gym when you're pregnant. It doesn't mean you're getting any less of a workout. As you progress in your pregnancy, it won't take as much to challenge those muscles. But you can still, certainly, challenge those muscles while you're pregnant.
4) Remember the physical changes of pregnancy. Your center of gravity changes, which creates balance issues. The "twins" grow, which puts stress on your shoulders and upper back. And all that relaxin starts to flow, which loosens up your joints—you may have more flexibility than you ever did before. In addition, you'll want to avoid being on your back once your second trimester hits. This, of course, limits the amount of core work you can do.
5) Eat for two, don't "eat for two." It isn't necessary to eat more simply because you're pregnant. But it is necessary to eat healthy because you are eating for two people. So whatever you eat, your baby eats, too. And the healthier you eat while you're pregnant, the better your pregnancy will be. (And the less you'll gain, hopefully.)
POSTPARTUM FITNESS TIPS
1) Don't rush it. Labor and delivery isn't exactly easy on the body, especially if you deliver by Cesarean section. You'll most likely be scheduled for a 6-week checkup, at which point your doctor will approve your return to physical activity if all is healing well. Even then, you'll still need to take it easy. You'll want to take it easy. And quite frankly, you won't have much time for anything other than that brand new bambino of yours so enjoy it. It won't last!
2) Start with some light walking when you feel up to it. Again, we were born to walk. So when you feel up to it, get up and do some light walking. It's the best way to start back into that physical fitness of yours. But stay in tune with your body...
3) Stay in tune with your body.Once your doctor gives you the official go-ahead to exercise again, it's really important that you proceed with caution. You still might not be completely healed from the demands of labor. As when you were pregnant, your body will let you know when it's had too much. And if it does just that, it's equally important that you pull back a little. You'll get back to those workouts, trust me. Just give yourself some time.
4) Watch your core. Your abdominals were continually stretched for about nine months. Perhaps dangerously so. Maybe to the point where they've split down the middle a little bit too much. So when you get to a point where you can challenge that core again, you'll need to go a little easy on them. Don't jump right to crunches. Try exercises that simply isolate the abdominals with contractions. Like planks, regular and side.
5) Remember the rule: Nine months on, nine months off. Be realistic with your weight loss goals. You didn't gain all that weight overnight, and while some of it will come off as you deliver, some of it will remain. If you eat healthy and start working out again once you've been given the a-OK, you'll see marked drops in your weight.
I really could go on and on, this is obviously a topic that's very near and dear to me. If you'd like specific advice, don't hesitate to talk to your doctor. And I'd be more than willing to share my two cents worth. You can send me a note a dailydose (dot) notes (at) gmail (dot) com.
I'm always here for you guys. (Even if you aren't pregnant, and simply want fitness advice.)