Post Pregnancy Fitness -- with Lyn Leddy

WebMD Live Events Transcript; Event Date: Thursday, July 1, 2004

By Lyn Leddy
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Live Events Transcript

Everyone says having a baby changes your life, but feeling flabby and exhausted is not the "new you" you were counting on! If you want to lose those postpartum pounds, get back in shape, and boost your energy, check out these pregnancy fitness tips from women?s exercise expert, Lyn Leddy. She joined us on July 1, 2004.

If you have questions about your health, you should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational purposes only.

MODERATOR: Welcome to WebMD Live, Lyn. Please tell our new moms and soon-to-be new moms a little bit about yourself.

LEDDY: I?m president of Evolving Fitness. I have a degree in exercise science and a certification from the American College of Sports Medicine. I?ve been practicing exercise physiology since 1992 in various settings: at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Portsmouth Regional Hospital in New Hampshire, AT&T Phone Company in Boston, and Teradyne Systems in Nashua, N.H.

I have a 10-month-old daughter. And my main mission currently, for the past three years, has been focusing on the needs of women throughout pregnancy and beyond.

MODERATOR: What?s the first step new moms should take toward getting into shape?

LEDDY: First they need to be mentally ready, which means you are no longer feeling overwhelmed. Next you start slowly, after gaining consent from your doctor. This could mean walking for 10 minutes, three days a week, then gradually increasing your minutes as you feel comfortable and ready.

MEMBER QUESTION: I am so sleep deprived I can?t imagine working out, but I know it will give me energy. I feel overwhelmed. What can I do to get moving again?

LEDDY: Every child is different. Just because you may see one mother fitting exercise in easily does not mean you should be at her level. Be creative with ways to get more active. For example, taking a stroller walk during nap times every day could be a realistic achievement.

MEMBER QUESTION: I could live with being big and round during my pregnancy, but I was pretty shocked at how big my stomach was after delivery! It?s gone down a little now that a couple of months have gone by, but I need to do something to this flab. Is it too much to expect a flat tummy ever again?

LEDDY: No, that?s not unrealistic. Exercise performed four days a week regularly, along with a good eating plan, will shed pounds; about 2 to 8 pounds per month. The key is being regular, consistent, and patient; and the pounds will come off. Strength training at least two days per week will tone your abdominal muscles back to fighting condition. It took you nine months to gain weight; it can take four to 10 months to take it all off.

MODERATOR: Are there specific exercises you recommend for post-pregnancy?

LEDDY: A sample exercise prescription for post-partum pregnancy would be walking or using a cardiovascular machine four to five days a week, starting at 20 minutes, working up to 50 minutes, making sure that you can talk comfortably yet feel like you're getting a brisk walk and that your heart is pumping and you're breathing heavily.

To tone your midsection, sit on a stability ball and perform a pelvic tilt:

  • Curl your hips towards your chest without rounding your shoulders, and then slowly bring your hips back to a normal sitting position. Think of it as scooping your hips toward the ceiling.
  • Start with as many as feels comfortable, about eight to 10, working up to 25 repetitions.
  • Take a 30-second break, and then perform the same amount of repetitions again for three to four sets.

Then to strengthen your lower back, which helps pull in weak abdominal muscles:

  • Lie on the stability ball with your stomach and head facing towards the floor, toes touching the floor (you should look like an upside down V).
  • Cross your arms so your hands touch your shoulders and slowly lift your upper torso towards the ceiling, your body is in line, making sure your shoulders are in line with your hips.
  • Then slowly bring your head back towards the floor.
  • Repeat this movement, working up to 25 repetitions, the same as the abdominal exercise I just explained.

These two exercises are the basic fitness moves two to six weeks after pregnancy. After six weeks you may begin standard abdominal exercises, such as lying on the floor and bringing your shoulders off of the floor and slowly lowering them down, which is called an abdominal crunch, and the bicycle, which is performed lying on the floor, hands behind your head, and touching your elbow towards your opposite knee, which is being brought in towards you.

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