Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Body after Baby

After having recently endured 9 months of a high risk pregnancy (a.k.a goodbye gym) and 35 pounds gained (and lost) I feel somewhat comfortable talking about getting back your body after baby.

Now, as a disclaimer I do have good "body after baby" genes as my mother birthed five children with nary a stretch mark, and to my great fortune, and credibility my mother is also a registered dietitian, my sister is a personal trainer and I, myself, have a bachelor's degree in exercise science. I know, disgusting.

Now, having said that, if you still want to listen, here are my tips for getting back your body after baby:

Nutrition advice from the daughter of a dietitian:

Start listening to your body now. Many of us have been trained to eat as a response to time or emotion. With the exception of breakfast, which you should always strive to eat, start trying to eat only when you are hungry (and while you are hungry), but don't wait until you are starving. While your body demands more calories while you are pregnant, it is not an excuse to gorge on whatever you want. If you're a numbers person, during the second and third trimester you need roughly an extra 300 calories a day (Gain Weight Safely During Your Pregnancy. (n.d.). Retrieved fromhttp://www.m.webmd.com/baby/guide/healthy-weight-gain.)
There are quite a few new changes and sensations taking place in your body right now - pay attention to to them and listen to them. If you feel hungry - eat - but make healthy choices, eat slowly and watch portions. If you are having a craving - satisfy it - eat slowly and (again) listen to your body carefully and when the craving is fulfilled, stop eating. Typically a craving is for a specific taste and not an amount.
For many of us, the first trimester can be pretty rough - you're feeling more exhausted than you ever knew possible (just holding your head up takes extra energy) and on top of that you want to throw up every second of everyday. Fortunately, for me, eating provided some relief to that raw feeling in my stomach. Unfortunately, for me, this meant I gained most of my weight in the first trimester when the baby was only the size of a blueberry at best. My best advice here is to pick healthy snack options and remind yourself that pregnancy is not an excuse to gorge on whatever you want - it is, however, an excuse to gorge on saltines if it makes you feel a little better than utterly miserable.

Every woman is different but the recommended weight gain for a woman at a healthy weight pre-pregnancy is around 25-35 lbs (Gain Weight Safely During Your Pregnancy. (n.d.). Retrieved fromhttp://www.m.webmd.com/baby/guide/healthy-weight-gain.) The rate a which you gain it can vary greatly but focus on listening to your body. While a few extra pounds both look and feel good while your pregnant, this does not hold true post-partum (unless you were underweight to begin with and those new few extra pounds are filling out your old blue jeans in all the right places.)

Exercise advice from someone with a bachelor's in exercise science and a sister who's a personal trainer:

The following cardio exercises will give you the most bang for your buck (after you consult with your physician if you don't currently partake) Aim for 35-45 minutes 5 times a week.

Spinning - 533 cal/hr*
Running - 600 cal/hr*
Stair master - 657 cal/hr*
Hiking - 438 cal/hr*
Fast walking (3.5+ mph) - 315 cal/hr* and can be done with a baby in tow for added calories burned (bonus!)

*Numbers are from the Mayo Clinic's estimates for a 160 pound person (http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/exercise/SM00109)

The following exercises with weights and/or body weight will give you the most bang for your buck. Go for higher resistance and fewer reps - Twice a week I pick 6 exercises and do 2 sets of 8-10 reps. It takes me about 15 minutes in addition to the 40-45 minutes of cardio.

Push ups (on a bench or the ground)
incline bench press (yes, even girls can do this - start with the bar or dumbbells if you're not ready for the bar)
Bench/chair dips (with or without a weight in your lap)
Bicep curls
Overhead press with dumbbells
Reverse lunges
Single leg dead lifts

Except for the bench press, all of these weight exercises can be done at home with a set of dumbbells. If you're new to these exercises, don't be shy. Ask a personal trainer or gym attendant to help you the first couple times until you get the hang of it.

Real Life advice from a mom of a 2 year old and 4 month old:

As a mom of 2 young children, I get it, time is valuable and very limited. However, I also get that young children can provoke anxiety and worry you never knew was possible. Exercise helps! Invest in a good jogging stroller - 2 good ones are Kool Stride and Bob - now get out and walk or run - whatever you can do is better than none at all.

I sympathize with you - all sleep deprived and exhausted. Grab a cup of coffee or tea and suck it up. Get outside if it's nice - the fresh air will perk you right up. Get yourself dressed and go outside or to the gym and then do some physical activity - even if it's just 10 minutes.  Put the laundry aside, leave the dirty dishes and toys - they'll be there when you return, unless you're lucky enough to have a fairy mother who comes while you're out and does your dishes for you. Put on your walking shoes. Take the baby with you in that nice jogging stroller you bought! If the weather is not cooperating go walk the mall.

If you're lucky enough to have family or a babysitter to watch the kids for a hour so you can go to the gym - take it!

A healthy happy mom who takes a little time to herself each day to exercise and better herself physically and mentally is better off than a stressed out, unhappy mom with poor self esteem who devotes 100% of her time and energy to her kids and none to herself.


  1. What a great post! This is going to be so helpful when we have kids. Brad and I always talk about how there is no excuse not to remember your health before, during and after pregnancy. You are such a good example of how to stay fit!

  2. thanks Rachel! That's so sweet :)