Your body just went through a whole lot carrying and birthing that tiny — or big — bundle. No matter how you delivered (C-section or vaginal) proper postnatal care is essential for you and your new baby’s health.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the postpartum stage generally refers to the first six weeks after childbirth. This is a particularly vulnerable time which is why thorough medical care is vital. So what exactly is postnatal “medical care” and when can you get up and going again? Medical care is the medical treatment that moms should receive during that postpartum period. This can extend as far as 4 – 6 months depending on physical and emotional issues or complications; it really depends on you, as every woman is different. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists now recommends that postpartum care should be an ongoing process rather than a one-time checkup. ACOG now recommends that all women:
• Have contact with their health care provider within three weeks of giving birth
• Get ongoing medical care during the postpartum period
• Have a complete postpartum checkup no later than 12 weeks after giving birth
It’s important to obtain the care that you need so you are healthy after giving birth to that beautiful bundle. But don’t wait until after Baby’s arrival to discuss a postpartum plan with your OB/Gyn; come up with a plan during your monthly prenatal care checkups.
Exercising During and After Pregnancy
Another way to maintain your health during and after pregnancy is by exercising — once you are cleared by your OB/Gyn, of course. Following a safe exercise regimen during pregnancy reduces health risks for you and Baby; and after delivery, exercise is usually OK’d right around that 4 – 6 week mark, assuming you had a healthy and normal pregnancy. Kelly Hater, certified personal trainer and fitness and wellness coach and owner of Trainers Spot (a new local gym in Maineville, Oh), says there are numerous ways staying physically active can prevent complications during pre and postnatal.
“As exercise decreases type 2 diabetes mellitus, it also de-creases gestational diabetes mellitus,” Hater says. “As it may not completely prevent gestational diabetes, yet physical activity from
the beginning can help manage it.”
Gestational diabetes is diabetes diagnosed for the first time during pregnancy (gestation) — moms are tested for it around 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy. Like other types of diabetes, gestational diabetes affects how your cells use sugar and can cause high blood sugar which can affect your pregnancy and your baby’s health. So regular exercise helps with strength, stamina, endurance in the delivery room, and even a healthy weight gain, she continues.
“Physical activity will help weight gain during pregnancy,” says Hater. “A person within normal BMI or body fat level for their height and weight before pregnancy should aim for a 25 – 35 pound weight gain.”
According to The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans 2nd edition, expecting or postpartum women should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity per week, such as brisk walking. Sounds like a lot? Not really; remember that every little bit counts, so breaking it up throughout the week is ideal, especially if you are new to exercising. For example, 30 minutes a day, five days a week. Not only will you be physically ready to deliver your baby, your mental health will be more than ready, too.
“Mental health, as exercising, releases endorphins to help you stay in a positive mindset,” Hater says.
Every woman is different, but being active in some way is key. If you weight trained before pregnancy or if you were a runner, then it is usually OK to continue, says Hater. If you were sedentary before pregnancy, you should start walking and slowly build up to an exercise plan that is best for you.
About That Pelvic Floor and More
Your pelvic floor goes through a lot of changes during and after pregnancy, so strengthening your pelvic floor muscles is super important. Once you enter into that long-awaited third trimester, your body prepares for birth. Your muscles become strained to support your growing baby and delivery. More than 30 percent of women who have a vaginal birth will experience pelvic trauma, causing damage to the pelvic floor muscle group, and exercising those muscles can help mitigate the stress that pregnancy and delivery places on the body.
“A female pelvic floor is like a hammock,” says Hater. “It spans from your pelvic bone to the tailbone then side to side between the sitz bones. The pelvic floor is like any other muscle; we train our glutes, quads, and hamstring to have strong and stable legs. The pelvic floor muscles are no different, as these muscles hold the bladder, the uterus and bowels in the proper place.”
The same goes for your abdominals. Training and conditioning both your pelvic floor and your abs will prevent weakening or a pelvic organ prolapse and diastasis recti (abs being separated during pregnancy from being stretched). Some go-to exercises that can help include kegels (which engages the pelvic floor) and “vacuum training” (an isometric contraction that tenses the ab muscles without moving it). Talk to your doctor about safe and effective exercises for you.
“Keep moving. Treat your body with respect. Put nutrient-dense foods into your body. Stick with the basics. Set goals and make sure your daily habits support your goals,” Hater says.
You will be ready when your mind and body are aligned!” she continues.
Workouts for Moms
Local options for that all-important “mom time.”
Define Mind and Body
3012 Madison Road, Cincinnati, Oh; email@example.com; 513-351-7746; oakley.definebody.com
Barre, cycle and yoga.
virtual classes and onsite locations
Stroller Strides and more from the nation’s leading prenatal and postnatal fitness program.
Great Parks’ Naturally Fit Virtual Fitness Series (virtual)
A virtual six-week series to learn how to move efficiently and naturally outdoors.
Kenton County Library
various locations; kentonlibrary.org
Yoga, Tai Chi, Chair Yoga and more. Free at various branch locations.
8485 Ridge Road, Cincinnati, Oh
Yoga, Tai Chi, Chair Yoga and more.
various locations; midpointelibrary.org
Yoga, Tai Chi and more.
8432 Old 3C Hwy., Maineville, Oh; trainersspot.com
Classes, workshops and personal training sessions.
Trihealth Fitness and Pavilion
6200 Pfeiffer Road, Cincinnati, Oh
More than 80 group fitness classes offered each week.
YMCA of Greater Cincinnati
multiple locations; myy.org
Bootcamps, core, strength, conditioning and more.
Bring the stroller, the kids or escape out solo for an energizing recharge at one of these local outdoor fitness series:
Cincinnati Fitness Bootcamp for Women
A four-week program of fitness instruction, nutritional counseling and motivational training.
Pyramid Hill’s Yoga in Nature Series
1763 Hamilton Cleves Road, Hamilton, Oh
Spring sessions May 12 – June 9 and in the fall. Drop in once for $15 or five–class sessions; $60.
Yoga in the Park
9131 Hopewell Road, Cincinnati, Oh
Yoga on the Levee
1 Levee Way, Newport, Ky
Weekly classes; all levels.
Summit Park – Blue Ash
4335 Glendale Milford Road, Milford, Oh; summitparkblueash.com/residents/free_fitness.php
More than 100 classes like yoga, zumba and line dancing beginning this month and running through September.
Workout on The Green
Washington Park, 1230 Elm St.; Cincinnati, Oh
Free workout classes every Tuesday and Wednesday with trained and licensed instructors in the south end of the park.
Amanda Hayward is editor of this publication and a mom of three. Tina Pratt is a frequent contributor to Cincinnati Family.