Post Baby Belly

So here we are are at 2.5 weeks post partum. While sleep is still less than abundant, everyone is adapting to the new schedule. Hailey is growing, and T is learning how to be a big brother. Some days are too exhausting to think about exercising and others I just want to jump back in the saddle and get me pre-pregnancy body back.

There are two important things to remember as you start to get back into your fitness regimen. The first is to start back slowly. Even on the days where you feel relatively more energized, it's important to remember that your body performed a momentous feet and it needs to recover. It's important to gradually increase your exercise regimen. You can plan it out. Start with walking, then maybe light yoga and then light weights. You can gradually increase intensity until you are back where you were pre-pregnancy and then beyond.

This is a time when you really need to listen to your body. You may feel fine and then end up pushing yourself too far. This can do more harm than good. Take things day by day. Remember you are running on reduced and oft interrupted sleep. The best thing is to eat well, get as much sleep as possible and slowly increase activity.

The second thing you must consider is your abs. This is probably the area you want to concentrate your efforts, but there is a lot to consider. First off, it takes a while for your uterus to shrink back to its normal weight. By four to six weeks, it should be close to its pre-pregnancy weight of about 2.5 ounces. This process is called involution of the uterus. So some of the excess bloat may be your uterus still not back in your pelvis.

Even after your uterus shrinks back into your pelvis, you may continue to look somewhat pregnant for several weeks or longer. That's because your abdominal muscles get stretched out during pregnancy, and it will take time – and regular exercise – to get your belly back in shape.

However, before you start packing in the crunches, there is another issue to consider. Diastasis recti. Diastasis recti is commonly defined as a gap of roughly 2.7 cm or greater between the two sides of the rectus abdominis muscle. This is common following pregnancy. Doing the wrong kind of ab exercises can increase the gap. In fact, crunches are one of the exercises you should not do if you have this problem. To check if you have diastasis recti, lie on the floor as if you were going to perform a crunch with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Lift your head off the floor and place your fingertips on the center of your abs to check for a gap. This is also something that can be check by your doctor.

The following are exercises that can help strengthen your ab muscles and reduce diastasis. Note that these exercises involve the pulling together of your ab muscles as opposed to crunches which push them out.

  • Core contraction - In a seated position, place both hands on abdominal muscles. Take small controlled breaths. Slowly contract the abdominal muscles, pulling them straight back towards the spine. Hold the contraction for 30 seconds, while maintaining the controlled breathing. Complete 10 repetitions.
  • Seated squeeze - Again in a seated position, place one hand above the belly button, and the other below the belly button. With controlled breaths, with a mid-way starting point, pull the abdominals back toward the spine, hold for 2 seconds and return to the mid-way point. Complete 100 repetitions.
  • Head lift - In a lying down position, knees bent at 90° angle, feet flat, slowly lift the head, chin toward your chest, (concentrate on isolation of the abdominals to prevent hip-flexors from being engaged),[6] slowly contract abdominals toward floor, hold for two seconds, lower head to starting position for 2 seconds. Complete 10 repetitions.
  • Upright push-up - A standup pushup against the wall, with feet together arms-length away from wall, place hands flat against the wall, contract abdominal muscles toward spine, lean body towards wall, with elbows bent downward close to body, pull abdominal muscles in further, with controlled breathing. Release muscles as you push back to starting position. Complete 20 repetitions.
  • Squat against the wall - Also known as a seated squat, stand with back against the wall, feet out in front of body, slowly lower body to a seated position so knees are bent at a 90° angle, contracting abs toward spine as you raise body back to standing position. Optionally, this exercise can also be done using an exercise ball placed against the wall and your lower back. Complete 20 Repetitions.
  • Squat with squeeze - A variation to the "Squat against the wall" is to place a small resistance ball between the knees, and squeeze the ball as you lower your body to the seated position. Complete 20 repetitions.

As for myself, I have started walking regularly and doing squats and non weighted arm exercises. I do kegels a few times a day and am starting to incorporate some of the above abdominal  exercises. Below are a few pictures of my belly progress.

Here's a reminder of last time.

This is definitely a case of slow and steady wins the race.

The next update will probably be in a few weeks. A) so there is more progress and B) so we can get back to more time management organization type posts.

See you on Friday!



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Post Baby Body: 1.5 Weeks

So you delivered a baby. While this means you have a beautiful little person to love and care for, it also means your body went through an ordeal. Whether you delivered vaginal or c section, with or without drugs, it takes time for your body to recover. Your post baby body may not be what you expected.

While I am a big proponent of working out throughout pregnancy, I am also a proponent of giving your body time to recover following delivery. Your body completed no small task, so it needs time to restore itself.

In the days following delivery, your mind many swing back and forth between two opposing thoughts. I know mine did. On the one hand, you can't believe that a few days ago your belly was big enough to carry this baby on the inside. On the other hand, you feel like it's taking forever for your stomach to go down. Between lack of sleep, adapting to caring for a new baby, and unhappiness about your body, your time post delivery can be rough. So what are you to do?

First, give yourself a break. While you should definitely be caring for your post baby body, this doesn't mean jumping back into workouts and dieting. It does mean taking it easy, getting sleep when you can, and allowing your body to heal. The only real exercise I would advocate during the first few weeks post delivery are kegels and walking, once you feel up to it.

Even those of us who worked out daily during pregnancy need time for our muscles to recover. In the days following delivery, I was shocked at how heavy my 3 year old seemed when I picked him up. My ab and back muscles were worn out. Even my arm muscles had strained as I pulled my legs back for delivery. Just now at 1.5 weeks post delivery is picking him up starting to feel easier again.

Here are my stats regarding my pregnant and post pregnant body. By then end of my pregnancy I weighed in at 155 lbs. My pre-pregnancy weight was 120 lbs, giving me a 35 lbs weight gain. This is me on Sunday, May 15, 2016, three days after I delivered.

Yup, still looks like there's a baby in there.  In fact, Tyler informed me that now we have 2 Hailey's, one on the outside and one still in my belly.... Way to boost my self esteem Tyler, lol. Straightening this out may take some time...

Since delivery, I haven't done much as far as exercise goes. I've walked around a bit and done kegels, when I remember. As far as abs go, I bought a belly bandit, but I've only used it twice so far. I don't know if it has helped my abs, but I do appreciate the back support it provides. As far as stretch marks go, yes, I collected some of those. Here's a close up of the belly.

I have been testing out the It Works Stretch Mark Cream. I don't know if it actually works yet, but it does feel great going on.

So here is the belly progress about a week after the first picture and 10 days total postpartum.

Wanna see that in a side by side? Here you go:

I am currently at 136 lbs which is about 19 lbs less than my pregnancy weight and 16 lbs over my pre-pregnancy weight. So progress is being made even without exercise. Of course, a lot of that was baby, placenta, fluids, etc..

At this point the only thing is I'm really doing is eating relatively healthy. You know whole grains, fruits and veggies. But I have allowed myself treats as well. My body did a lot of work and my taste buds are reaping the rewards. Soon it will be back to a slightly more strict regimen.

One thing I will note, is I am also exclusively breastfeeding. This does help the uterus contract faster and this in turn reduces belly size. I definitely support it as a way to speed up your body's return to its pre-baby shape. Plus it's a super cost effective way to feed your baby. It's also a lot of work, so there are pluses and minuses. For us, the convenience and health benefits for both mom and baby make this the right choice for our family. I breastfed T for a full year, and I intend to do the same with Hailey.

So that's where I am at right now. Once I start working out again, I will report what I am doing as well as my progress.

In the meantime, tune in Friday for a Memorial Day craft project and next Tuesday when we discuss diastasis recti.



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