I’ve worked with many women over the years and most of the time if they’ve had a child I would refer to them as post natal based on the results of an initial assessment. The reason for this is that most women have not received the proper training to shake off that baby fat and regain the strength through the core that is necessary for optimal performance in day-to-day life and extracurricular activities.
Often times the main concern just after pregnancy is losing the excess body fat and weight gained over the course of 9 months. This focus on weight often leaves core strength and stability overlooked and leads to other complications down the line as a result. Fortunately many women are now taking up Pilates as a form of exercise both pre and post natal. Other women are consulting qualified personal trainers who understand the physiology of pregnancy and the special needs required. Ideally a combination of Pilates with aerobic and resistance training would give the best results.
Just after pregnancy it’s important to begin with strengthening of the pelvic floor muscles. This is usually done through Kegel exercises. As Pilates usually utilizes many movements that require use of the pelvic floor and transverse abdominals, this is a good place to start. However, you must understand that the calories expended during this lower intensity exercise will not be enough to get you the weight loss results you’re looking for in the long run. A great compliment would be cardiovascular and weight training workouts that should be incorporated at two to 3 times per week.
Training with weights and learning functional movements that apply to your everyday life is an essential compliment to your training. Making sure to get your heart rate up and challenging your muscles in order to maximize calorie expenditure is what’s ultimately going to help you shed extra body fat, tone up and get those sexy curves back.
If you’re afraid of working out because of myths concerning decreased breast milk production or increased lactic acid production, consider this.
“Aerobic exercise performed four or five times per week beginning six to eight weeks postpartum had no adverse effect on lactation and significantly improved the cardiovascular fitness of the mothers.”
(N Engl J Med 1994 Feb 17;330(7):449-453)
“Aerobic exercise improves cardiovascular fitness and does not affect milk energy transfer to the infant.”
(J Nutr 1998 Feb;128(2 Suppl):386S-389S)
Lactic acid production can increase just after a workout but should dissipate within 60 to 90 minutes of your workout once your body is able to clear it from the blood stream.
At the end of the day the take home message is clear. If you’re looking to get your figure back, move better and feel better, it’s essential to not only maintain an active lifestyle during your pregnancy, but also after pregnancy. To get the results you desire and lose that baby weight then the right choice is a combination of different types of exercise. Remember that variety is the key so get out there and enjoy your Pilates; get some weight training in; do some yoga and be sure to include aerobic activity. In combination these activities will have you fitting into those old jeans in no time!