Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Exercises During Pregnancy

Exercise During Pregnancy For Normal Delivery

If you are expecting a child, it is natural for you to have fears and concerns. The biggest fear is the delivery itself. Will you have a normal delivery or a C-section? If it is a normal delivery, how long will the labor last? Is there anything that you can do to minimize the pain and duration of labor? You understand that it is a natural process, which is painful and can take time. Yet, there are some pregnancy exercises for normal delivery that aid a woman to have a smooth delivery with little discomfort. They can also increase your chance of having a normal delivery by flexing the muscles responsible for a normal delivery.

Regular exercise can ease backaches during pregnancy, and it helps improve the mother’s stamina that she will need during her labor and delivery. Aside from reducing stress, regular exercise puts the expecting mother in high spirits and makes her feel good about herself. If the mother is in good health, she will be better prepared for childbirth.

Experts agree that exercise during pregnancy is safe and beneficial for most pregnant women, if it is done properly. This is definitely an area to discuss with your healthcare provider at the beginning of your pregnancy.

Regular, moderate exercise during pregnancy can benefit you in many ways. It can help

-Relieve backache
-Prevent constipation and varicose veins
-Strengthen muscles needed for delivery
-Leave you in better shape after delivery
-Help you feel better about yourself

The goal of exercising during pregnancy is overall good health. It will make you feel better physically, and it can give you an emotional boost.

Exercise was not always approved for a pregnant woman. In the past, doctors were concerned about the redirection of blood flow from the fetus to the pregnant woman's muscles during exercise. This does occur to a small degree, but it is not harmful to the fetus in a normal pregnancy.

Starting a Program
Some women become interested in exercising during pregnancy to help them feel better. If you've never exercised before, you must discuss it with your doctor before you begin. Pregnancy is not the time to begin a vigorous exercise program.

If you've never exercised before, walking and swimming are excellent forms of exercise. Riding a stationary bike or walking on a treadmill can also be enjoyable and beneficial.

Don't be afraid that exercise might cause you to do something to hurt your pregnancy. It's a good idea to be fit and to exercise when you're pregnant. If you're fit, you'll do better with weight gain during pregnancy, be able to do the work of labor and delivery better, and feel better sooner after the birth.

Most experts recommend reducing your exercise to 70 to 80% of your prepregnancy level. If you have problems with bleeding or cramping, or have had problem pregnancies before, you will need to modify your exercise with your doctor's advice.

Exercise and Heart Rate
During pregnancy, your heart rate is higher; you don't have to exercise as vigorously to reach your target-heart-rate range. Be careful not to stress your cardiovascular system. If your heart rate is too high, slow down but don't stop exercising completely. Continue exercising, but exercise at a more moderate rate.

If your heart rate is low, and you don't feel too winded, pick up the pace a bit, but don't overdo it. Check your pulse rate again in a few minutes to make sure you aren't overexerting. During pregnancy, check your pulse rate fairly often when you exercise. You'll be surprised at how fast your pulse can increase during a pregnancy workout.

Discuss exercise with your healthcare practitioner at your first prenatal visit. If you decide later to start or to change your exercise program, consult your physician before you begin. Some women should not exercise during pregnancy. If you experience any of the following symptoms, do not exercise during pregnancy:

-A history of an incompetent cervix, preterm labor or repeated miscarriages
-High blood pressure early in pregnancy
-Multiple fetuses
-Diagnosed heart disease
-Vaginal bleeding

As your pregnancy progresses and your body changes, you need to change your exercise habits. Your center of gravity changes, so you have to adapt your exercise to account for that. As your abdomen grows larger, you won't be able to do some activities comfortably. You may have to stop other activities entirely.

Feeling Out of Breath

Your growing abdomen can put a strain on your respiratory system, causing you to feel out of breath sooner than normal. When you exercise, don't work to the point that you can't talk and you have trouble breathing. This indicates you're working too strenuously; cut back on your workout.

Feeling Warm
When you're pregnant, you normally feel warmer than usual. You'l feel warmer still when you exercise, so try to avoid becoming overheated during workouts. Work out in a well-ventilated room, and drink lots of water while you exercise.

Types of Exercises
The following simple pregnancy exercises for normal delivery can help an expectant mother:


Walking is the best form of exercise for pregnant women and it can be done during the entire duration of pregnancy. It maintains the overall well-being of the mother to be. It helps to keep problems like high-blood pressure, constipation and restlessness, under control. Walk for about quarter to half of an hour in the mornings and evenings.

It is the most advantageous aerobatic exercise that gives you a total workout and facilitates movement for the baby too. Walking is the right remedy for multiple problems like constipation, high blood pressure and restlessness. You should walk for at least 15-30 minutes in the morning and for about half an hour in the evening. Outdoor walking is more beneficial than indoor walking. You must choose long distances and walk slowly. Wear comfortable shoes to avoid the risk of falling. Walking is beneficial to the pregnant mother as well as the unborn baby. Do not walk briskly and do not over-do the walking.

This is a contraction exercise of virginal muscles, which play an important role during labor and delivery. To do this exercise, try to stop the flow of your urine during mid-stream. Hold for about five seconds and release. Repeat the steps about 8 times. You can also practice it while sitting or lying in bed,


Yoga consists of postures, which benefit the body greatly without putting physical stress on it. It makes the muscles flexible and relaxes the body. Yoga consists of certain pregnancy exercises for normal delivery, which involve squatting and the pelvic area. A stretch called ‘cobbler pose’ is especially beneficial for this purpose.

Cardiovascular exercises:

The purpose of these exercises is to regulate breathing rhythm and heartbeat and build stamina for physical labor. Child labor and delivery is extremely demanding on the body. Therefore, these pregnancy exercises for normal delivery prepare your body for the extreme physical labor. Besides walking, swimming, dancing and stationary biking can be practiced. Do not perform any strenuous exercises.

    1. Swimming: Swimming is one of the fastest exercises that fitness experts recommend for the pregnant women. It not only builds your muscles, but also keeps your body fit without adding any eight or stress. It avoids muscle injury or strain. It is a sort of cardiovascular exercise that regulates and maintains your heart beat. Moreover, water acts as a coolant and also prevents the swelling of your legs.

    2.  Cycling/Biking: Cycling is another beneficial exercise. It is better to practice it on a stationary bike, as the center of gravity moves as you grow due to which the chances of falling while actually cycling are more. It becomes difficult to maintain the balance as the baby grows and tummy expands. To avoid excess stress, you must cycle slowly. You must ensure that you do not overdo the exercise.

     3.    Jogging and Running: Running and jogging are useful exercises for the pregnant women. If you have been doing exercise and jogging before you were pregnant, it is no harm if you continue doing so during your pregnancy days. On the other hand, if you are into this particular exercise for the first time, you must consult your doctor at the start itself. Your doctor will guide and give you instructions about how much distance to cover and for how much time you should do the exercise. While jogging or running, you must ensure that you are wearing good shoes and are hydrated enough.


If you are used to playing a competitive sport, such as tennis, you should be able to continue to play, but expect to reduce the competition level. The point to remember is don't get carried away or overwork yourself.

Some less strenuous sports are listed below.
The best exercises during pregnancy are walking and swimming.
Most are generally considered safe for a normal, low-risk pregnancy:

-Low-impact aerobics designed especially for pregnancy
-Water aerobics
-Stationary bicycling
-Regular cycling (if you're experienced)
-Jogging (if you jogged before pregnancy)
-Tennis (played moderately)
-Walking on a treadmill
-Using a stair stepper or stair climber
-Riding a recumbent bike
-Using a Nordic Track® ski machine
-Weight training, if you have been active in it before pregnancy

Pregnancy is a time to maintain your workout and not increase it. After the first half of the pregnancy, as the uterus enlarges, it is better not to lie flat on your back.

During pregnancy, avoid the riskier sports listed below:

- Scuba diving
- Water-skiing
- Surfing
- Horseback riding
- Downhill skiing or cross-country skiing
- any Contact Sport


Aerobics classes specifically designed for pregnant women are a good choice. They concentrate on the unique needs of the pregnant woman, such as strengthening abdominal muscles and improving posture. When choosing a class, be sure the instructor has proper training and the class meets the exercise guidelines developed by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Eating and Exercise

Your nutrition needs increase during pregnancy, and you burn extra calories during exercise, so eat enough calories to ensures balanced diet. As I've already discussed, a woman of normal weight before pregnancy needs to eat between 300 and 800 extra calories a day during pregnancy. Exercising may increase your needs.

Exercise Guidelines

As always, be sure you consult with your physician before you begin any exercise program. Follow the tips below to keep you healthy and in good shape.

-Stop immediately and consult your physician if you experience any problems.
-Exercise at least 3 times a week for 20 to 30 minutes each time.
-Start your exercise routine with a 5-minute warm-up and end with a 5-minute cool-down period.
-Wear comfortable clothes that offer support, including a support bra and good athletic shoes.
-Drink plenty of water during exercise.
-Don't exercise strenuously for more than 15 to 20 minutes.
-Check your pulse rate; keep it below 140 beats a minute.
-Don't exercise in hot, humid weather.
-After 16 weeks of pregnancy, avoid exercises that require you to lie on your back.
-Never allow your body temperature to rise above 100.4F (38C).

Benefits Of Exercise During Pregnancy

Pregnancy exercises for normal delivery also help women to stay healthy and strong besides preparing the body for child labor and delivery. It makes them more energetic, eases stress on the back and minimizes other pregnancy related pain. It improves the sleep, hence boosting overall health. It also helps the body to recover fast after delivery.

However, each pregnancy is different and may have some complications, due to which exercise may not be recommended. Always consult your obstetrician before carrying out any exercises.

Effects of Exercise on Labor and Delivery

Exercise during pregnancy should help you have an easier time with your labor and delivery. Many believe that women who exercise during pregnancy have a shorter recovery time after birth. Exercise keeps you fit so you can get back in shape more quickly.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Losing Weight After Pregnancy

Losing Weight After Pregnancy

Having a baby changes your life -- it also changes your body. You may be surprised by some of those changes if you're a new mom, wondering why it takes so long for your belly to shrink, how to lose the baby weight and whether your body will ever be the same.
If you look at some celebrity moms out there, you may think you should emerge from the hospital looking as though you were never even pregnant. But, the reality is a little different. Having a baby affects every part of your body and, despite what's going on in Hollywood, it can take up to a year for your body to make a full recovery. Find out what you can do to help your body bounce back and lose the baby weight in a healthy way.

Why do I Still Look Pregnant?
One of the first thing new moms notice after having a baby is the fact that they may still look several months pregnant for awhile after giving birth. This is absolutely normal. Remember, you had a baby in there for nine whole months. From the moment you give birth, your body starts working to shrink your belly back to its pre-pregnancy state, or something close to it, but it's a slow process. It takes about four weeks for your uterus to contract to its normal size, and many women will lose about 8 to 20 pounds during that first two weeks as the body gets rid of all that extra fluid.
It will also take time for your hips and pelvic area to shift back to their pre-pregnancy state, so it's normal for things to be out of whack after giving birth.

How Do I Lose This Baby Weight?
Though you may be eager to jump into a workout program or diet, easing into light exercise is crucial for keeping your body safe and injury-free. Even the fittest moms may have trouble getting back to exercise. After all, having a baby is a major ordeal and something you'll need time to recover from. You'll need clearance from your doctor and, depending on what kind of birth you had, it may be 4 to 8 weeks before you can engage in serious exercise.

Breastfeeding can help you lose weight, requiring an extra 500 calories from you a day and helping reduce some of the fat you gained during pregnancy. If you do breastfeed, make sure you're giving your body the fuel it needs for that extra energy demand. Now isn't the time to go on a diet; restricting your calories too much can reduce your milk supply, and losing too much weight (more than two pounds a week) can actually release toxins that wind up in your milk.
The good news is, you can still exercise if you're breastfeeding. Studies show that moderate exercise won't affect milk production as long as you're giving your body enough calories.

Obstacles to Exercise
You may be eager to lose weight by ramping up your activity, but exercise can be tough during the first few months after giving birth. Just some of the issues you may face:
·Exhaustion and fatigue -- These are common after giving birth, especially if you're breastfeeding, which can deplete your energy. Be aware of your energy levels, and only do what you can handle.

·An Erratic schedule -- For the first few weeks and months after you give birth, your baby's feeding schedule may change constantly, making it tough to follow any kind of normal routine.

·Time constraints -- You may find that you only have a few minutes here or there for exercise. If that's the case, take advantage of the time you have, and don't be afraid to spread your workouts throughout the day.

·Mood swings -- As your hormones get back to normal, you may have some ups and downs, perhaps even dealing with postpartum depression. Exercise may help your mood, but you should talk to your doctor about the best way to handle your situation.

·Guilt -- Many new moms feel guilty when they take time for themselves for exercise. It's tough to remind yourself that you'll actually be a better mom if you focus on getting stronger. Doing so will also set a good example for your child.
Exercise can actually help with some of these issues, and there are ways to make it easier to fit exercise into your life:
·Split your workouts -- Short workouts spread throughout the day are just as effective as continuous workouts.

·Keep it simple -- If you have a few minutes while the baby sleeps, take some laps around the house or trips up and down the stairs. Exercise doesn't have to be complicated, it only has to get you moving.

·Find support -- Talk to friends, family or neighbors about how they've handled having a baby and staying in shape. You'll be amazed at the creative ideas out there.

·Focus on what's important -- It's easy to get stressed out about losing weight, especially after inhabiting a body so different from the one you've been used to for most of your life. You will get back to normal, even if your body isn't exactly the same. Give yourself permission to enjoy your baby and your body, even if it's not what you hoped it would be.

Your Postpartum Workout Ideas

The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology suggests that, if you were active before pregnancy and had a normal vaginal birth with no complications, you may be able to start walking and doing basic strengthening for the abs, back and pelvis as soon as you feel able to. If you had a c-section, you may need to wait several weeks before starting any kind of activity.
When you do get started with a workout routine, you'll want to focus on three different areas: Core strength, cardio and strength training.

1. Core Strength

Pregnancy can weaken some areas of the abs, not surprising when you consider there was a baby squished in there for nine months. You may be yearning to jump into an ab program complete with crunches and sit-ups, but your abs do need some TLC once your doctor has cleared you for exercise.

You may be wondering which exercises to do, and how much of them, in order to help lose fat around the belly. It's important to remember that you can't spot reduce fat from certain areas of your body with specific exercises. Getting flatter abs involves losing overall body fat with a combination of cardio, strength training and a healthy diet. Even then, you may still have a little fat around the lower belly. This is an area many women store excess fat, particularly after pregnancy, so try not to put too much pressure on yourself to get a flat belly.

This doesn't mean you shouldn't be doing ab exercises, because you do need to strengthen the muscles that have stretched and possibly weakened during pregnancy.

Make sure you get your doctor's OK before you do these exercises, and start with one set of 10 to 16 reps of each exercise 2 to 3 times a week, adjusting that to fit what feels right to you. You can add sets or try more challenging exercises over time.

Keep in mind that if you have diastasis, a separation of the two halves of your rectus abdominis (the outer abs), you may need to modify your ab exercises. 

2. Cardio
Along with core strength, you'll want to incorporate cardio into your routine, but you may not be able to do the same activities you were doing before -- at least, not for a while. High-impact exercises, such as running or aerobics, may not be comfortable as your body recovers. As one of my postpartum clients put it, "I feel like something critical is going to fall out every time I try to jog." When you're just starting out:

·Start slow and easy. Many new moms find they can tolerate walking, starting with about 20 minutes a day, 3 days a week. If you can handle more, try getting some kind of activity in every day.

·Stick with low-impact activities. If high-impact exercises don't feel good, try walking, swimming, working out on the elliptical trainer or other activities that aren't jarring on the body and joints. Over time, you'll find it easier to transition into higher-impact activities.

·Work at a moderate-high intensity, a level 5 to 6 on the perceived exertion scale. Allow your energy levels to guide you in your workouts, backing off if you feel tired or vice versa.

As you get stronger, you may want to up the intensity with interval training about once a week, which can help you burn more calories. You can also add a stroller to your walking routine, which is great for adding challenge while allowing you to exercise with the baby. Experts have found that you can burn 18 to 20% more calories if you walk while pushing a stroller. Pushing it up a hill will burn even more calories, and there are even baby-friendly exercise groups you can join, such as Stroller Strides or Baby Boot Camp.

3. Strength Training
Strength training is an important part of your weight loss program as well as your recovery. It can help you build lean muscle tissue, raise metabolism and give you the strength you need to take care of your baby.

Like the other activities, you'll want to start out slowly, even if you lifted weights before birth. Your body is still recovering, and it may be a little different than you remember. You might want to start with exercises to strengthen your core and stabilizer muscles while also working on your balance and flexibility. This Basic Ball Workout is a gentle routine that focuses on all those areas.
When putting together a workout, choose exercises that work multiple muscles so that you strengthen your entire body while saving time.

Diet for healthy post-baby weight loss

Eager to get back into shape now that you're no longer pregnant? For long-term success – and to keep yourself feeling good along the way – keep these tips in mind

Don't start dieting too soon

 Your body needs time to recover from labor and delivery. Give yourself until your six-week postpartum checkup before you start watching your calorie intake and actively trying to slim down. And if you're breastfeeding, experts recommend that you wait until your baby is at least 2 months old before you try to lose weight. (If you're a nursing mom, you may also want to read our article on a healthy breastfeeding diet.)
Starting a diet too soon after giving birth can delay your recovery and make you feel more tired – and you need all the energy you can muster to adjust to life with your newborn. In addition, if you're nursing, dieting can affect your milk supply. If you're patient and give your body a chance to do its work, you may be surprised at how much weight you lose naturally, especially if you're breastfeeding.

Be realistic about weight loss

Keep in mind that you may not be able to return to your exact pre-pregnancy weight or shape. For many women, pregnancy causes permanent changes such as a softer belly, slightly wider hips, and a larger waistline. With this in mind, you might want to adjust your goals a bit. For a reality check, see our photo gallery of real post-baby bellies.

Embrace exercise

There's no magic pill to help you lose weight: A healthy diet combined with regular exercise is the best way to shed the pounds – and to keep them off. And it's important to exercise while trying to lose weight to ensure you're losing fat instead of muscle.

Once you're ready to begin losing weight, start by eating a little less and being more active– even if you're just taking a quick walk around the block with your baby in the stroller.

Lose weight slowly

Don't go on a strict, restrictive diet. Women need a minimum of 1,200 calories a day to stay healthy, and most women need more than that – between 1,500 and 2,200 calories a day – to keep up their energy and prevent mood swings. And if you're nursing, you need a bare minimum of 1,800 calories a day (most nursing moms need more like 2,000 to 2,700 calories) to nourish both yourself and your baby.

If you're breastfeeding, you'll want to make sure to take it slow – losing weight too quickly can cause a decrease in your milk supply.

Too-rapid weight loss can also release toxins that are stored in your body fat into the bloodstream – and into your milk supply. (Toxins that can make it into your bloodstream include environmental contaminants like the heavy metals lead and mercury, persistent organic pollutants like PCBs and dioxins, and solvents.)

Weight loss of about a pound and a half a week is safe and won't affect your milk supply if you're nursing. To achieve this, cut out 500 calories a day from your current diet (without dipping below the safe minimum) by either decreasing your food intake or increasing your activity level.

Eat up – and take your time!

With a new baby and schedule, it can be hard to find the time to eat. But skipping meals can make energy levels lag – and it won't help you lose weight. Many moms find that eating five to six small meals a day with healthy snacks in between (rather than three larger meals) fits their appetite and schedule better. (A small meal might be half a sandwich, some carrot sticks, fruit, and a glass of milk.)

Don't skip meals in an attempt to lose weight – it won't help, because you'll be more likely to eat more at other meals. And you'll also probably feel tired and grouchy.

Even if you've never been much of a breakfast person, keep in mind that eating breakfast can help keep you from feeling famished – and tired – later in the morning, and it can give you the energy to be more active.

In addition, numerous studies show that skipping breakfast can sabotage your weight loss efforts. According to the National Weight Control Registry, which has tallied the successful strategies of dieters who have lost an average of 66 pounds and kept it off for 5.5 years, 78 percent of the dieters eat breakfast daily.Slow your eating down, too, if possible. When you take your time eating, you'll notice that it's easier to tell when you feel full – and you're less likely to overeat.

Be choosy about foods and drinks

Research shows that consuming low-fat milk and dairy products and choosing whole grain products like whole wheat bread and whole grain cereal can help you lose weight. Other good choices include low-fat, high-fiber foods such as fruits (like apples, oranges, and berries) and raw vegetables (like carrots, jicama, and red pepper strips) for healthy snacks.

Other ways to squeeze in more fruits and veggies: Make fruit (or veggie) smoothies, use fruit or vegetable salsas or vegetable reduction sauces (sauces made from puréed vegetables) over fish or chicken, add shredded carrots to your sandwich, try grilled vegetables, and try puréed vegetable soups. (Puréeing your soup makes it creamy without having to add cream, which is high in calories and saturated fat. It's also a great way to eat veggies you might not ordinarily eat on their own.)

Fat has twice as many calories as carbohydrates or proteins, so trimming the extra fat from your diet is probably the easiest way to cut calories. Look for low-fat or fat-free dairy products (you don't need to drink whole milk in order to make quality breast milk!), choose broiled or baked rather than fried foods, and limit your intake of sweets, which have extra calories from sugar and fat.

Keep in mind, though, that fat is an important nutrient, so your goal isn't to eliminate it from your diet. In fact, including some fat at each meal will help you stay full and keep you from overeating carbohydrates. (Too many calories from any source – fat, protein, or carbs – can lead to weight gain or keep you from accomplishing weight loss.)

The trick is to choose "good" fats rather than "bad" fats. The best fats are mono- and polyunsaturated fats, like those in canola oil, olive oil, avocado, olives, nuts and seeds, and fatty fish like salmon. The oils to avoid are saturated and trans fats, which can contribute to heart disease and perhaps diabetes, and can be transferred to breast milk, too.

Saturated fats are found in meats and dairy products, and trans fats are typically found in many fried foods, snack foods, and baked goods. (Food labels specify which kinds of fats the products contain.)

Finally, although you should be drinking about 8 or 9 cups of fluids each day, watch what you drink – a surprising number of calories can be hidden in juice, soda, and coffee drinks.

Daily food plan for healthy post-baby weight loss

The food plan below adds up to 2,200 calories a day for breastfeeding moms. For non-breastfeeding moms, it totals 1,800 calories a day. Use this as a rough guide – your individual calorie needs will vary depending on your weight, metabolism, and activity level, and also on how much you're breastfeeding.

View and print daily food plan.