Say Bye-Bye Baby Belly – Hello Mommy on the Move

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By Jillian Moriarty, MSPT

Baby Belly . . .Mummy Tummy. . . Saddle Bags. . .Trunk Junk . . . whatever it’s called, most post-natal mommies agree that they want to get rid of it fast! Heck, I’ve been there myself. I have two little kiddos. I know what it’s like to drive my car over a bump in the road and feel my love handles jiggle.
But hey, moms, don’t we deserve to cut ourselves some slack when it comes to our post-prego body? Honestly, we just created a new life inside our bellies…a human life – a true miracle! Shouldn’t we be able bask in this miracle for just a little bit without putting so much pressure on ourselves to snap back into pre-prego shape? Can’t skinny jeans wait a week or three? And, is a body really ready to tackle hard workouts or cutting calories right now? Is it even safe, especially if we’re nursing?

My first piece of advice? The better pre-prego shape you’re in, the faster and safer your body’s post-baby rebound will happen! In other words, create healthy nutrition and exercise habits pre-prego and maintain that level during pregnancy.

Instead of indulging in hot fudge sundaes, enjoy a peppermint–infused foot rub. If you’re feeling tired and crabby, put down your grande vanilla latte and pick up the pace! Take a brisk walk or do 10 sun salutations, a flowing series of yoga poses combined with breathing. Get your heart rate to pitter-patter and beat a little faster…exactly what you need!

Aerobic exercise not only enhances your cardiovascular endurance, it improves your mood, increases energy and helps you sleep better at night! And, according to the

American College
of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, pregnant woman are NOT limited to a maximal heart rate, but are rather encouraged to work out at a level where they can still maintain a regular conversation without being breathless.

And speaking of breathing . . . taking the time to enjoy slow, deep, full breaths throughout your day can release stress, improve immunity, decrease morning sickness symptoms and is great practice for that up and coming labor and delivery.

As your baby bump begins to grow, go ahead and show it off with belly-hugging tees, just remember to keep your pelvic floor and abdominal muscles hugging in, too! As the uterus and baby grow, the abdominal muscles will feel pressure to stretch outward (of course some of this is unavoidable) and the pelvic floor muscles feel pressure to stretch downward. Your job as a ‘hottie mommie’ is to do Pilates! The Pilates-style abdominal contraction is best described in three-parts:

Pull the diamond-shaped muscles of your pelvic floor inward and upward inside your body.
Suction-cup your belly button toward your spine.
Draw your frontal rib angles together to center and downward in a funnel-like motion.

Performing this isometric contraction should be done with lengthening of your spine and in proper posture. Just make it a habit and practice as much as you can: while seated and driving, standing and doing the dishes, walking and exercising, and after baby while breastfeeding, rocking baby to sleep, changing diapers, placing baby in and out of the car seat, and more.

This isometric Pilates contraction will strengthen the abdominal muscles and limit overstretching or tearing (known as diastisis recti). It will stabilize your sacroiliac and lower back and reduce injury to this area, strengthen the pelvic floor and reduce incontinence. It allows for improved body mechanics and posture, and is an absolute essential before performing any higher-level abdominal exercises!

Now, let’s talk about losing the “baby weight.” A healthy weight-loss goal is to take the weight that was put on over nine months off in the following nine months. The key is to be patient with yourself, and honestly, enjoy this precious time with your new little bundle. However, this does NOT mean that you should allow yourself to go on a total exercise vacation.

Sure, you can enjoy the casseroles dropped off by friends, allow your mother-in-law to fold the laundry, let your hubby do the grocery shopping, treat yourself to a lavender-scented bath or enjoy a mid-afternoon nap. Just remember…taking care of your newborn alone puts physical demands on your body and requires moms to be in good shape.

In fact, after baby, many moms complain of having more pain in their backs, shoulders, wrists and necks than when they were pregnant. Even mothers who have had a Cesarean section are warned against “exercising” until properly healed, but these women are exercising just by taking care of their newborn. This is why it is especially important to stay fit, but stay practical! Practice good posture, perform the Pilates isometrics, get outside to enjoy a stroller walk, and practice your deep breaths.

Caring for a newborn, waking up in the middle of the night, and whack-a-doodle hormones flowing make it even more important for new mommies to benefit from these simple exercises to improve mood, increase energy levels, tone muscles, strengthen bones, burn calories and, over time, take off the pounds!

High-impact exercises that are too fast-paced, jerky or bouncy, should be avoided as the Relaxin hormone that allowed for the pelvic birth canal to open (whether or not baby was delivered vaginally) is still circulating at up to ten times the normal concentration for up to one year post-partum (especially if breast-feeding) and can cause join instability, weakness and pain.

Workout smarter, not harder where damage may occur! Keep exercises low impact during and after pregnancy. Spinning, elliptical, weight lifting, yoga and Pilates are great examples. Also recommended to keep bone density healthy are weight-bearing exercises. Yoga and Pilates are the most beneficial as they continually change the weight-bearing positioning to “surprise” and strengthen the bone along multiple force lines for a more complete bone health.

My last piece of advice is easy! Enjoy your family, love up your little muffin with oodles of hugs and kisses, and stop fretting about your muffin top! You are a mom and you are amazing!

Jillian Moriarty, MSPT, founder and president of Happily Ever Active™, is a nationally recognized expert in yoga, Pilates and mom-baby fitness. Visit or 1-888-9HAPPILY for class schedules and product information.

“Previously published in My Health Beginning – Dec 09”

Posted by hahmom   @   1 March 2010 1 comments

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Oct 15, 2010
9:57 am
#1 Leslie S. :

Deep breathing is fabulous!

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