Good morning! Is everyone partied out from Mardi Gras?? I’ll definitely be packing some leftover Jambalaya for lunch today.
I have a fairly busy day ahead of me, but I started the day off with a run again this morning. This time I took Muffin dog along and I ended up with 1.5 miles and ran my mile in 10:53 which is a significant improvement over yesterday’s time. I will have to say that I was very tight and uncomfortable the later part of yesterday – my hip was mad at me for running. Luckily, I have PT tomorrow and will get re-aligned while I’m there. The goal is to be running while I’m in PT so that my muscles can learn to hold my bones/joint together in the right way rather than compensate as I have been doing for so long (like, 12 years). Good times.
Once I got home I packed a quick breakfast of Chobani Blood Orange, granola and an apple. Since I still had some extra time, I went ahead and did the same arms workout as yesterday.
Now I wanted to talk about some post-natal body issues that I’ve had to deal with. Most of these are things that we don’t like to talk about but probably should. They are normal parts of motherhood and we shouldn’t be ashamed.
Having a baby is one of the most amazing things that you will ever do with your body. Sure, I’d love to run a marathon someday and maybe climb Mt Rainier, but nothing will ever compare to the feat of carrying a baby for nine months and bringing a new life into the world (TWICE!). Amazing or not, it takes a toll on your body. Here are some of the things I’ve gone through and the ways I’ve been able to deal with them. Hope it helps you too!
Problem: No mid-section strength (abs)
Solution: Getting your mid-section back takes time, especially if you have abdominal separation -which isn’t all that uncommon during pregnancy. First things first, you need to make sure that you have clearance from you primary care doctor and your gynecologist before undertaking any ab work. Besides working out, make sure you avoid salty foods and other items that cause bloating.
Simple ab work:
- Laying on your back, bring yourself to a half way sitting up position. Holding an object, even a pillow, twist from side to side keeping your shoulders square and chest upright. You can gradually work up to holding a weight (I use 10 lbs) when you twist back and forth.
- Do lunges, holding a small weight up as you lung forward. Switch it up and lunge backwards while bringing your weight overhead.
- Sit in a “V” and lean into your toes, keeping your chest and shoulders up. You should be using the strength of your abs to pull yourself forward, not collapsing down.
- Remember that stability ball you bounced on during your pregnancy?? Pull that bad boy out of the closet and use it to practice good posture and balance using only your abs.
Tougher ab work:
- Jillian Michael’s Six Week Six Pack
Problem: Dark line down your belly (linea negra)
Solution: It helps if you use a good lotion or oil during pregnancy to keep stretch marks and lines like this at bay. I used coconut oil during my pregnancy with Spencer and ended up with a much lighter line than from my pregnancy with Mackenzie. After pregnancy, it does take time for this line to go away (its caused my increased pigmentation) but you can help your skin recover by drinking lots of water, “popping” Vitamin E capsules and rubbing the oil into your skin (you can also take the vitamins, but be careful if you are breastfeeding), and make sure you use a good moisturizer after you showers. Have patience and know that it will eventually disappear.
Problem: Saggy inner thighs
Solution: I swear Susan Somers got it right with the Thigh Master! If you happen to have one of these “antiques” (ha, sorry!) go for it! A rubber ball also works great. Simply lay on your back, with the ball between your knees, squeeze with your thighs to hold the ball up. Another great exercise is laying on your back with your knees hip width apart, raise your hips and lower, repeating for twenty counts (or more!). Of course any lunges you can manage will also help with these thighs. I like to do lunges while walking with the stroller. Holding onto the handle I’m able to ensure my back and chest are up.
Problem: Stretch marks and sagging booty (that ain’t bootylicious baby)
Solution: Those lunges will help here too. You can also do donkey kicks and step aerobics (like The Firm). Of course, yoga is another great option – especially any series of sun salutations.
Problem: Weak back and bad posture
Solution: When I was still breastfeeding, I would often find myself hunched over while nursing Spencer – I was dropping my chest to where he was rather than holding him up to me. No wonder I had a cramped up neck and stiff shoulders. When nursing make sure you are bringing baby to your level by using pillows or other prop (those babies get heavy!). I also found that once I was back to work, I had horrible posture at my desk. A quick fix: put a mirror up at your desk or the chair you like to sit in at home – “catching yourself” in bad posture is a great way to cut the habit. Once you see how ugly it looks, you’ll start correcting yourself more and more. The ab work mentioned above will help too – especially the Jillian Michael’s DVD which emphasizes back work to correspond with all the tummy stuff. Then again, yoga will help here too.
Problem: Pregnancy brain is now all-the-time-brain
Solution: This is sometimes referred to as adult ADHD and it can be incredibly frustrating. Where you were once sharp as a tack, you are now flighty and forgetful. Well, blame it on the hormones and also on having a whole life to care for besides your own. But that doesn’t mean you have to take up permanent residence in Scatter Brain City. A really important tip here is to make sure you get a good night’s sleep (laughable with a newborn right?). We’ll talk more about sleep solutions on Thursday so let’s skip over that one… Other things you can do to keep your brain firing properly:
- Make lists. I always have about ten kazillion things going through my mind and I try so hard to remember, remember, remember that I’m bound to forget something (usually the most important). Making lists (and having a system for keeping them like an app on your phone, a daytimer, whatever) allows me to keep my thoughts in order without having to juggle them all at the same time. Once it’s written down I can let the paper (or my phone more likely) have the anxiety attacks and what not. My head though, it can be clear. If you imagine your brain like a desk – you only need to have certain things on your desk at any given time. Sure, sometimes you get a big pile of junk to go through and its chaos and madness. No one can work efficiently or in a focused manner if their desk is a cluttered mess. Same with your brain, take those papers off your desk, off your mind and file them away for later use.
- DON’T WORRY SO MUCH. This is a big one for me. I worry about really stupid things. Nick has again and again had to teach me that “you can’t worry about things you can’t control.” This is so true for parenting. Make your home safe, be an involved parent and don’t worry about all the little micro details. Kids will fall and get hurt, they’ll get sick, they’ll learn bad words…. It’s not the end of the world. Just dust off your coattails and keep on parenting the best you know how.
- Take time for yourself. We’ve all heard this one – something along the lines of “you can’t be a good mom if you don’t take some time for yourself.” Don’t go crazy with this but I definitely agree that time that is just for you is a very important part of parenting. Not only that, it’s nice for the kids to have time with just daddy every now and then too. So let dad take the kids on a date or stay in while you go out sometimes. Another big one: get up just a little earlier. I’m definitely not a morning person but I really love that quiet time to myself in the morning before the munchkins are up. I make a cup of coffee and enjoy the stillness of the world. Even 15 minutes is a blessing.
And now that I’ve scared off all of my not-yet-mommy friends, I do have to say that no matter what my body has gone through or the time it takes to recover, having kids is still totally worth ALL of it. So until that linea negra fades away, let it serve as a reminder to you of how truly amazing it is to carry a baby, bring another being into life, and to know that these little people are a perfect joining of both ourselves and our mates.
“Making the decision to have a child – it’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” ~ Elizabeth Stone.