Having a baby is obviously a tremendous physical act. Every muscle in your body, and several others you never knew you had will be put to the test in the ultimate act of physical endurance. Some mothers might have a quick birth that’s over in a matter of hours, but for many, it really is a marathon. Working hard in advance to get your body prepped can help with the work that comes afterward – the post-baby body.
After having a baby, your new body is never anything to be ashamed of. The changes are all part of the beautiful process of creating life. That being said, for the sake of healthy moms, putting in a little work before you have your baby, can go a long way with staying healthy afterward. Prep the muscles that you will need for childbirth and parenting to give yourself a leg up once the baby arrives.
The core element here is going to be: your core. Pun intended. The muscles that tend to work the hardest during childbirth are your abdomen and lower back muscles, it is also the area that will be pulled, stretched, pushed, and prodded the most during pregnancy and childbirth. Paying attention to these areas of your body can go a long way!
(Note: Of course, any exercise should be performed with the guidance of a medical professional!)
For Beginners – Not everyone is running 5Ks every weekend, and that is alright. Even if you start slow, the most important thing is that you start. Long walks or short jogs, while you focus on pulling in your core muscles, will help start to tighten that area. As you walk or run, think about flexing your stomach muscles and keeping your back straight and tight against your abs. Concentrate on pulling in and keeping your center square.
Everyday Activities – The idea above can be applied to many things that you likely do on a daily basis. Household chores like baking or ironing that involve a lot of standing a good opportunity to put those core muscles to use. As you iron or knead bread, think about tightening your abdomen and holding your center still. Even ironing, while thinking about pulling in your core can help you see some serious results.
Pilates – This exercise might be a little retro these days, but it is a tried and true way to target the muscles that you are going to use the most. Pilates takes the ideas in suggestions one and two and takes them to the big leagues. It is all about creating a strong and centered core with slow and patient exercise. It is a whole lot less strenuous than running or aerobics and uses very small movements and the weight of the body itself to create resistance and build core muscles.
Weights – Another useful exercise that can be dialed down to a safe level is weightlifting or more generally, resistance building. You don’t necessarily need a set of dumbbells to start working on your Michelle Obama arms. Look for exercises that work on your arm muscles because those puppies are going to be put to the test once you have got a little one to tote around! Prep for that extra weight and the bags and strollers by toning your arms a little bit in advance.
Stretch – Pregnancy is notorious for loosening women up. You might not have been able to touch your toes since your middle school ballet class, but pregnancy might have granted you some new skills. Take advantage of them and the chance to loosen up and relax. Simple stretching skills like reaching for your toes, stretching out your calves, and more – all are great ways to keep yourself limber and loose.
Prepping for a baby means taking a new look at how you do so many things in your life. Something that often goes amiss, is prepping your physical self for the tremendous changes that are about to happen. Really though, your self is one of the greatest assets that your baby will have in this world. Making sure that you are ready, physically and emotionally, is a very important step in bringing your baby into a home that is ready all-around.