Post Pregnancy Fitness: Lose Postpartum Pounds (cont.)

I highly recommend a book titled Exercising Through Your Pregnancy , by James Clapp, III, MD, a professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. Dr. Clapp is the leading authority when it comes to exercising throughout pregnancy and post-partum. I've done a lot of research on the topic and Dr. Clapp's clinical studies overwhelmingly pop up.

A web site you'd want to look up is the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (acog.org). They can send you a pamphlet of information.

MEMBER QUESTION: I need some stretches to loosen up. I'm so tired I don't think I could handle much more at this point.

LEDDY: After delivering a baby your body is pretty loose, because it needed to expand, the ligaments needed to loosen up and joints needed to expand in order to deliver the baby, so therefore I don't feel stretching only, during the first two months, is all that beneficial.

If you're looking for stress reduction because your body is tense from tending to the baby's needs and your list of things to do at home and/or at work I would suggest finding some time to give to yourself to take a bath, read a book, get a massage, or get outside and take a walk with headphones on. Enlist the help of your partner, friends and family at least two times a week to help you recharge.

MEMBER QUESTION: I have a colicky baby and spend a lot of time holding him and pacing to calm him down. I am finding that my shoulders and neck are getting stiff from carrying the baby. Are there any exercises I can do to strengthen those areas?

LEDDY: Yes, there are exercises you can do to help strengthen neck, shoulders, chest, and back:

Grab some soup cans, stand tall, and hold your hands at your side.

  • Lift both arms up in the air until they're parallel to the floor, and slowly return to the starting position with your hands next to your hips.
  • Then hold your hands in front of your thighs and again lift your arms in front of you until parallel to the floor.
  • Return to starting position.

Next, sit in a chair:

  • Lean forward as if you're going to touch your chest to your knees, but don't round your back.
  • Dangle your arms in front of you, knuckles towards the floor, palms facing each other.
  • Raise your arms out to your sides until they're parallel to the floor.
  • Slowly return to starting position.

For your back, grab those soup cans again:

  • Stand tall, put your arms in front of you, resting on your thighs, and then hold the soup cans together until they touch.
  • Keep them together, and slowly bring the soup cans up to chin height. Your arms should look like a V, because your elbows will be high in the air.
  • Slowly return to starting position.

Another exercise is a chest press, also called a wall pushup.

  • You want to be on your toes. Put your hands on the wall, making sure your arms are straight.
  • Slowly bend your elbows and bring your chest towards the wall, keeping your back straight the whole time.
  • Then slowly push yourself back to the starting position.

All of those exercises I explained will strengthen the shoulders, chest, and back. Perform up to 15 repetitions for two to three sets.

For your neck, you want to stretch that area out:

  • Stand tall, rest your shoulders and drop your ear toward your shoulder until you feel a stretch in the neck. Hold for 15 seconds, and then do the other side.
  • Another great neck stretch is dropping your chin toward your chest. You should feel a stretch right up the back of your neck. Hold for 15 seconds, and then you're done.

Perform all of these exercises and stretches every other day, or at last two times per week.

MODERATOR: We are almost out of time. Lyn, do you have any final words of advice for us?

LEDDY: My final bit of advice is to be patient with yourself. Each person has different struggles with each new baby. What worked for you for your first pregnancy may not work for you with your second. The first thing you should think of is your overall sense of well-being, which is making sure you are not fatigued, you get some sleep, and you're eating well.

After that, be creative with getting exercise into your life, remembering this is a lifestyle change, not a short-term quick fix. Getting exercise into your lifestyle doesn't mean having to hit the gym with weights. Taking your baby for a walk, playing actively on the floor with your baby, getting together with other moms to go for group walks, or getting together with other moms so maybe you can get some time to yourself are all creative ways to get active.

I've recently worked with a mother who gave birth to her fourth child and hasn't returned to her prepregnancy weight of her first child. She gave birth seven months ago. As of today, she's back to her prepregnancy weight from before her first child. Now, this is because she has a wonderful little boy who loves to watch his mom exercise for a good 30 to 45 minutes, so therefore she can exercise with him in the same room two times a week and other days take him for walks. She's getting about four to five days a week of exercise in.

So remember, with finding time to get some activity in your life regularly, the pounds can and will come off. It just may take a good four to 12 months to do it. Rapid weight loss in one to two months after pregnancy like the celebrities, Kate Hudson, etc., is unrealistic. They are able to do so because they have tons of help, money, and personal trainers every day. So please do not compare yourself with the magazine covers of the celebrity new moms.

Good luck, be patient, and enjoy your time with your babies.

MODERATOR: Unfortunately, we are out of time. Thanks for joining us, members, and thanks to Lyn Leddy for sharing her post-pregnancy exercise tips with us today.


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