My Favorite Exercises to Lose Weight

I like to do a broad spectrum of exercises. I find that if I stick to one exercise my body just adapts and it starts feeling lazy. I don’t see the weight coming off as quickly either with one type of exercise. My favorite exercises include jogging, yoga, and a little bit of strength training.

I combine all these exercises with calorie counting using the My Fitness Pal app by Under Armour on my phone. It really is awesome to use! You can get it on Android and iPhone.

Jogging

walking
Photo Credit Unknown.

Jogging is my outlet for stress. I could do a solid 3+ miles before I got pregnant. Have I mentioned how much I’m ready to be cleared to exercise again?

Anyway, jogging is a great way to help your cardiovascular and respiratory stamina. According to an article in Fitness Magazine “Running is the king of cardio. Running even five to 10 minutes a day, at slow speeds (how does a nice 12-minute mile sound to you?) is associated with a drastically reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, according to a landmark study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology” (Fetters, K.A., Fitness Magazine. Unknown). Some other benefits (as if you need more of a reason than that) include stronger bones, weight loss, and joint issue prevention.

map my walk app
Photo Credit mapmywalk.com. (Unknown).

I prefer to use the Map My Walk app by Under Armour. You can also get it on Android and iPhone. It tracks your walking and maps it out for you. It also keeps track of how many miles you’ve walked as well as how many steps you’ve taken. It will record and keep your times/runs so you can refer back to them to track your progress. It also works like a social media network. You can connect with friends and see what all they’ve done and where they did it. When you go to the website or download the app make sure you pick your location. This helps ensure the map is correct. I used it to jog up and down our drive way to build up to running several miles at a time. The app even showed me running up and down the drive correctly.

I noticed I was having some minor joint pains in my knees and hips. When I started jogging and losing weight I felt a relief in my joints. I didn’t have any more aches and pains. You should give jogging a try!

Yoga

extended triangle pose
Photo Credit spotebi, spotebi.com. (Unknown).

I love yoga for several reasons. Yoga helps improve joint issues and muscle aches and pains. It also helps build a strong body core. My favorite part about yoga includes muscle toning and the low resistance exercise. Whenever I feel like my body needs a break from jogging I switch to yoga for a day to get my exercise in.

You can find out more about the benefits of yoga here. I even included a list of my favorite yoga poses in this article.

Strength Training

Shapes of sportive girl.
Photo Credit 123RF, 123rf.com. (Unknown).

The number one thing to understand about strength training is it doesn’t necessarily guarantee weight loss. It guarantees muscle strengthening. You can get pretty good aerobic exercise with strength training though (depending on the exercise). Some benefits to strength training include increasing your quality of life, strengthening muscles, help manage chronic conditions, and manage your weight (Mayo Clinic Staff., Unknown). It can also help your posture, flexibility, and lessen your chances of injury.

As you can see from the photo on the right of this section strength training doesn’t have to be lifting weights and going to the gym. You can do strength training in your very own home without any gym equipment. Using your own body for that resistance is strength training.

My favorite strength training exercises include anything I can do at home without any equipment. I don’t want to go to the gym. I don’t feel like I have time to haul both my children to the gym and then let the “daycare” watch them. That life is just not practical for me. If I can just do exercises at home that works out better for my life style.

Resources:

Map My Walk. (2018). Retrieved from http://www.mapmywalk.com/us/

Fetters, K. A., Fitness Magazine. (Unknown). 10 Benefits of Running That Make You Healthier (and Happier). Retrieved from https://www.fitnessmagazine.com/workout/running/benefits-of-running/

Carlson, B. (2018). 10 Yoga Poses for Moms. Retrieved from https://themedicalmamac.wordpress.com/2018/03/12/10-yoga-poses-for-moms/

Mayo Clinic Staff. (Unknown). Strength Training: Get Stronger, Leaner, and Healthier. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/strength-training/art-20046670

My Fitness Pal. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.myfitnesspal.com/

 

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Postpartum Depression: What Should I Know?

Photo Credit Creekside Center for Women, 2018

Let’s take a minute to talk about something real.

What is Postpartum Depression?

depression stats
Photo Credit Winnie Palmer Hospital, ahealthblog.com, 2018

Postpartum depression is “depression suffered by a mother following childbirth, typically arising from the combination of hormonal changes, psychological adjustment to motherhood, and fatigue” (Dictionary.com, 2018). Postpartum depression is a real issue that needs to be addressed, especially among the mom community. There is no shame if you are suffering from it right now, or have in the past. Did you know that 1 in 7 women suffer from postpartum depression (American Psychology Association, 2018)? The CDC says that depression varies by state.

My Experience. My Story.

Unfortunately, I have suffered from postpartum depression. I used to feel shameful about it. With therapy I now know it was not my fault, and there are things you can do to help. I will talk about that later in the article as well. I want to share my story to help other moms who might be suffering.

I remember after I had my daughter (5 years ago) listening to her cry. She was colic from an unknown allergy, which we discovered about a year ago. She cried what seemed non stop. We hardly slept at night. We did not get any kind of spacial time away from her unless she was at my parents’ house (thank you mom and dad). I had to keep her on me at all times otherwise she was more unhappy and cried louder. There were times I had to just let her cry in her crib because she could cry just as easily there as she could in my arms. I needed a break. I needed 10 minutes to myself, then I would go tend to her again. She was in-consolable.

I started having panic attacks from the constant crying. Anyone who’s had a panic attack knows it feels like a heart attack in your chest and you can’t catch your breath. I was having these randomly throughout the day too. It would knock me to my knees and I couldn’t get up. That is when I decided to seek help. It was the best thing I did for myself and for my daughter. My husband, bless his heart, was so supportive through it all (thank you husband). I got a part-time job to get myself out of the house and away for a bit. I started going on walks with our dog by myself to have that moment of clarity. This is what worked for me, but it may not for you. I will discuss some strategies further in my article.

If you have suffered from postpartum depression before please feel free to share your story below. This will help other moms as well.

How Do I Know I don’t Just Have the “Baby Blues?”

baby blues vs postpartum
Photo Credit Kristen, The Healing Group, 2014

That is an excellent point! Baby blues are completely different than postpartum depression. It is so normal to feel weepy, tired, and exhausted after having a baby. The first few months are so hard, especially for first time moms (there is nothing wrong with first time moms either). You should have an increase in appetite and start molding in to that motherly role after a few weeks. You also will have good sleep when you do sleep. It’s normal to have worries throughout your thoughts and throughout your day (Bennett, S., 2016). Don’t worry, worrying about your child if you’re doing well makes you already a better parent than those that don’t.

Below is a chart to help guide your thoughts on whether or not you think you might have some issues with postpartum depression vs baby blues. Please keep in mind this is a guide, and not purposed with actual diagnosing your symptoms online. As always talk to your doctor if you think you might have postpartum depression.

 

postpartum vs baby blues vs psychosis
Photo Credit thesecrettogivingbirth.com, Unknown

 

Symptoms and Signs of Postpartum Depression

disinterest
Photo Credit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017

Let’s talk about symptoms and signs of postpartum depression. You may be reading this wondering if you have it. If you have just given birth and feel symptoms of hopelessness, sadness, exhaustion with sadness, and having a hard time coping with daily life you might have postpartum depression (National Institute of Mental Health, 2018). You could also be feeling overwhelmed, feeling anxious, crying a lot more than normal, over sleeping, or having disinterest. Make sure you do not confuse these with baby blues. If it is baby blues you should start feeling better in a couple weeks after giving birth.

 

crying in bed
Photo Credit drawingofpencil.com

For me the disinterest is what gave it away that there was a problem. My daughter would cry, and sometimes I literally did not care. I didn’t have that motherly instinct to help her. I would just lay there in bed crying. I knew at that moment it was time to do something to help myself and our child.

Please seek help right away if you are unable to help your baby because of your depression. This is a serious condition.

Please look over this chart and see if you have a significant majority of these signs:

signs of postpartum
Photo Credit Binkgirl, Steemit, 2017

How Does Someone Get Postpartum Depression?

I’m glad you asked. A lot of people are actually unaware of what it is and how someone “gets it”. It is not a disease, or a virus. It is nothing along those lines. It’s not even “regular” depression. They are both clinically different forms of depression. Yes, they share a lot of common symptoms, but they are different.

Clinical Depression Causes

Well, first and foremost clinical depression is not caused by just having a baby. Did you know that depression is hereditary (Meaney, M., 2015)? Let me also clarify this. You can develop depression from other ways. It doesn’t have to just be hereditary (ie. bullying, anxiety, down in life, etc).

Many people suggest depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain. This is only half true. “To be sure, chemicals are involved in this process, but it is not a simple matter of one chemical being too low and another too high. Rather, many chemicals are involved, working both inside and outside nerve cells. There are millions, even billions, of chemical reactions that make up the dynamic system that is responsible for your mood, perceptions, and how you experience life” (Harvard Health Publishing, 2017). So you see, there are many factors influencing depression.

Postpartum Depression Causes

causes postpartum
Photo Credit Lifestyle, LinkedIn, 2016

“There’s no single cause of postpartum depression, but physical and emotional issues may play a role.

  • Physical changes. After childbirth, a dramatic drop in hormones (estrogen and progesterone) in your body may contribute to postpartum depression. Other hormones produced by your thyroid gland also may drop sharply — which can leave you feeling tired, sluggish and depressed.
  • Emotional issues. When you’re sleep deprived and overwhelmed, you may have trouble handling even minor problems. You may be anxious about your ability to care for a newborn. You may feel less attractive, struggle with your sense of identity or feel that you’ve lost control over your life. Any of these issues can contribute to postpartum depression” (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2018).

Okay I Think I Have Postpartum Depression. What Do I DO Next? How is my Doctor Going to Treat it?

 The first thing you should do if you suspect you have postpartum depression is contact your doctor’s office. Make an appointment. Make sure you let the nurse on the phone know what is going on so you can get in faster to help relieve your symptoms. This will help you and help your child.

Your doctor is going to ask you a series of questions. More than likely you will need to fill out a questionnaire to give the doctor more information. They may even order blood tests to make sure there isn’t another hormonal imbalance contributing to your symptoms.

Some things they will suggest are either taking medications (antidepressants), or talking to a psychologist/psychiatrist. This depends on if you want medications. I was able to talk to a psychologist and that helped tremendously. If you are uncomfortable about taking medications, like I was, I would start with a psychologist and go from there. They may recommend medication though.

Just remember to talk to your doctor if you even suspect you might have postpartum depression. It might be baby blues, or it might be more serious. Do not feel shameful if you experience any of the symptoms. This is a huge issue that needs to be discussed to help others.

As always please share your story below to help other moms and parents.

 

Resources:

American Psychology Association. (2018). Postpartum Depression: What is Postpartum Depression and Anxiety? Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/pi/women/resources/reports/postpartum-depression.aspx

Dictionary.com. (2018). Postpartum Depression. Retrieved from https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-1-ab&q=Dictionary#dobs=postpartum%20depression

National Institute of Mental Health. (2018). Postpartum Depression Facts. Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/postpartum-depression-facts/index.shtml

Bennett, Shoshana, American Pregnancy.org. (2016). Do I Have the Baby Blues or Postpartum Depression? Retrieved from http://americanpregnancy.org/first-year-of-life/baby-blues-or-postpartum-depression/

Meaney, Michael, Psychology Today. (2015) Is Depression Hereditary? Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/hope-through-research/201509/is-depression-hereditary

Harvard Health Publishing. (2017). What Causes Depression? Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/what-causes-depression

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2018). Postpartum depression. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/postpartum-depression/symptoms-causes/syc-20376617

 

Pregnancy Diets, Breastfeeding diets, and Post Baby Diets. OH MY!

So many questions revolve around pregnancy and dieting (What am I supposed to be eating?), breastfeeding diets (What diet should I be following while breastfeeding my baby to ensure they get the right nutrition?), and then there’s the mom that can’t wait to start losing weight after the baby is born (that’s completely me).

I want to start this article out by stating you should not try to lose weight during pregnancy. This is extremely dangerous for you and for your unborn child. When I say pregnancy diet I mean your overall consumption of food you ingest. You should not count calories and lose weight while pregnant.

The Pregnancy Diet

So what are you supposed to be eating while pregnant? What nutrients are you in dyer need of while pregnant? What does baby need to grow and maintain a healthy “diet” while in the womb?

I am so glad you asked!

folate rich foods
Photo Credit exhibithealth.com. (Unknown).

During your pregnancy make sure you increase your fiber intake. I can not tell you how important this is. Constipation during pregnancy is so common…and very painful. Make sure you are eating good sources of calcium and protein. According to WebMD “Choose at least one good source of folate every day, like dark green leafy vegetables, veal, and legumes (lima beans, black beans, black-eyed peas and chickpeas). Every pregnant woman needs at least 0.64 mg of folate per day to help prevent neural tube defects such as spina bifida” (WebMD., 2018).

 

pregnancy food pyramid
Photo Credit Shweta, healthworry.com. (2016).

You should already be taking your prenatal vitamins. In fact,  you should start these as soon as you find out you are pregnant. These are rich in nutrients that baby needs to grow and develop. Your diet is the single most important thing for your baby at this stage of the game. You should be consuming something from every food group in the food pyramid. This helps ensure that baby is getting a well rounded amount of nutrients they need to grow and develop. Naturally, you will need to have a bigger calorie intake. This does not mean indulging in a chocolate cake or a whole pint of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream. This means about 300-500 extra calories per day. This is about a peanut butter sandwich and a glass of milk. Depending on your weight before pregnancy determines how many extra calories you really should be consuming. Make sure you talk to your doctor about this.

The Breastfeeding Diet

mom-breastfeeding-baby
Photo Credit Parents, parents.com. (Unknown).

For breastfeeding you still need to follow a copious diet from every group of the food pyramid. You should continue to take your prenatal vitamins as those are still the nutrients being received from mommy to baby. You should continue to consume about 500 extra calories per a day for breastfeeding.

Everyone wants to lose weight after baby is born. Hold off on losing weight and focus on a healthy breastfeeding diet instead. You will want to increase your fish intake. Remember fish was banned while pregnant? Now you need to consume fish to help with baby’s eye sight development.

 

breastfeeding diet
Photo Credit Unknown.

Continue to consume lots of rich proteins and calcium foods. This helps with growth and development still. Don’t forget to increase your fiber intake as well. Again, constipation seems to still be an issue not only for you, but for baby as well. Anything you consume baby consumes. That also means avoid alcohol and caffeine.

The Post-Baby Diet

This is the part of the article I am most eager to talk about. For me counting calories after breastfeeding was over was the key to losing weight and keeping it off.

my fitness pal
Photo Credit My Fitness Pal. (Unknown).

First, set a goal. How much do you want to lose? Be realistic! Start keeping track of your calorie intake. You can use an app that I love so much. It helps you keep track of your calorie intake. It also helps you figure out what is the right amount of daily calorie intake for you to lose weight, maintain weight, or gain weight. It’s called My Fitness Pal. This app helped me lose weight and keep it off. You can also keep track of your exercise and how many calories you burned doing it. It’s the best app that I’ve tried so far.

Make sure to incorporate lots of exercise. You should exercise for 45 minutes per day roughly 3-5 days per week. I am not going to lie it can get addictive counting calories. It’s like a challenge when using the app. “How many calories do I have left? How many can I gain if I do this exercise?” I think that’s why it worked so well for me.

I also wrote an article about several different exercises you can do to help you lose that baby weight. You can find it here: https://themedicalmamac.wordpress.com/2018/03/07/losing-weight-after-baby-is-born/

What are your favorite ways to lose weight?

 

Resources:

American Pregnancy Association. (2015). Diet During Pregnancy. Retrieved from http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/diet-during-pregnancy/

WebMD. (2018). Eating Right When Pregnant. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/baby/guide/eating-right-when-pregnant#2-2

Murkoff, Heidi, What to Expect. (2018). The Pregnancy Diet. Retrieved from https://www.whattoexpect.com/pregnancy/eating-well/pregnancy-diet.aspx

 

10 Yoga Poses For Moms

Photo Credit Judie Hurtado, Sheknows. (2011)

I love yoga. I think every other mom on the planet loves yoga too. It’s great for when you are feeling a little lazy and don’t want to jog or run. It’s great for rainy days as well. I remember at one point I got shin splints from doing too hard of running right off the bat without easing my body in to jogging. I had to switch to yoga until my legs healed. Yoga was perfect for that!

Here are some of my favorite yoga poses and other great poses for moms.

Getting Started: What Should I Know?

criss cross
Photo Credit Madhavi Dandu, urbanwired. (2014)

Before we get started I want to talk about the proper way to do yoga. You should be on a yoga mat or carpet, something comfortable that isn’t going to hurt your joints or your hands and knees. Make sure your space is quiet and comfortable. Take deep breaths in the criss cross sitting position (I call it criss cross applesauce, fishies in the pond). Relax. Let your shoulders and your jaw drop. Inhale slowly and exhale slowly.

When you are breathing while doing yoga you should inhale deep enough that your abdomen inflates. You should be inflating your abdomen then fill your chest. This is very important. Each pose should be about 10-12 breaths. If you are more experienced you can do up to 30 breaths. Each pose should be held roughly 3 minutes at a time.

Yes, you will struggle at first if you haven’t done yoga before, or you are getting back in to a routine. Don’t get discouraged. Keep on it. You will only build muscle and tone your body from here on out. Don’t forget it helps strengthen your core and helps your balance as well.

1) Warrior Pose

Yoga warrior pose silhouette
Photo Credit miceking, 123RF. (2018)

The warrior pose “stretches the whole front side of the body while strengthening the thighs, ankles, and back. This is a powerful standing pose that develops stamina, balance, and coordination. It tones the abdomen, ankles, and arches of the feet. This pose also stretches the chest and lungs, improving breathing capacity and invigorating the body. It can be therapeutic for sciatica. It also encourages greater flexibility, strength, and range of motion in the feet, increasing circulation as it warms all of the muscles” (Yoga Outlet, 2018).

To do the warrior pose you should start by standing with your feet at hips length apart. Step to the side about 4-5 feet apart. Then take your front facing foot and turn it outwards towards the top of the mat (see figure in this section). Then put your arms wide out like an eagle. Now bend your knee on the leg that has the foot pointing forward. Lean in to it. You should feel your legs stretching.

2) Standing Tree Pose

tree
Photo Credit Anita, YogaAnita. (2015)

This pose is great for strength, endurance, flexibility and balance.

The standing tree pose starts with standing up. Slowly raise your arms upwards and connect your hands. Slowly slide one foot upwards to your thigh. Now relax and breathe.

You might be wobbly at first, but don’t give up. Every time you do this pose you are strengthening your muscles and bettering your balance.

3) Half Moon Pose

half moon pose
Photo Credit Bikram Yoga. (2018)

The half moon pose is one of my personal favorites. It helps stretch out your sides and helps you align your core. Plus it helps tone your stomach (who doesn’t love that?!).

You are going to start by standing up with your feet together, shoulders relaxed and your arms to your sides. Then slowly raise your arms and clasp your hands together. Then slowly bend to one side. Then bend to the other side.

4) Sunrise Pose-My Personal Favorite

The sunrise pose is my personal favorite. It stretches my back out, opens my chest muscles, and helps tone my core muscles.

It has several different positions. You can find a great video here. It does a pose by pose explanation. I can’t stress enough how much I love the Sunrise Pose.

5) Downward Facing Dog Pose

downward facing dog
Photo Credit Unknown, yoga.sites4you.net. (Unknown)

The downward facing dog is great for those of you that have sciatic nerve issues. It is also fantastic for restless leg syndrome. It feels so good to just stretch out my back and legs.

This pose you will start on your knees. Make sure you use your yoga mat so you don’t hurt your joints in your knees. You are going to place your hands palms down out in front of you. Then slowly lift yourself off the mat with your feet. Stretch your back out and your leg muscles. Put your head down and make it parallel with your arms. Stretch out your neck and back as you look down towards the floor.

6) Cobra Pose

cobra pose
Photo Credit Unknown, yoga.com. (2018)

This pose is great for stretching out your upper body muscles. As you can see in the picture to the right of this section it shows the muscles that it works on. It helps strengthen those muscles and helps open up your chest muscles.

To do this pose you will need to start on your knees. Make sure you use your yoga mat so you don’t hurt your knees or your legs. Then put your palms face down to the ground. Slowly slide your body in to the cobra pose. Your chin should be up and you should feel all your muscles in your shoulders, chest, neck and back stretching. It also helps stretch your stomach muscles. Focus on balancing.

7) Bridge Pose

bridge pose
Photo Credit Vida Blelkus, HuffPost. (2014)

This helps open up the neck, chest, and back. It also helps with stress and fatigue.

Lay on your back. I would make sure to use your yoga mat. Bring your feet flat to the floor with your knees bent upwards. Lay your arms by your sides and lift your hips up towards the sky. If you can inter-twine your hands together underneath you.

8) Supine Spinal Twist Pose

supine spinal twist
Photo Credit Dr. Jean Farber, painawaydevices.com. (2017)

The supine spinal twist is great for stretching out your back muscles and stretching your spine. “It stretches the back muscles and glutes. It massages the back and hips. It helps to hydrate the spinal disks. It lengthens, relaxes, and realigns the spine. It massages the abdominal organs and strengthens the abdominal muscles. As a result, this pose tones the waistline and also helps to remove toxins. This twist also encourages the flow of fresh blood to your digestive organs, increasing the health and function of your entire digestive system” (Unknown. (2018).

To do this pose you will need to start by laying on your back. Again, I highly recommend investing in a yoga mat. Then slowly raise one knee. Grab it with your opposite hand and pull it towards that opposite hand. Next stretch out your free arm. Turn your head towards that free arm and hold it there while you breathe in and out slowly.

.

9) Extended Triangle Pose

extended triangle pose
Photo Credit Spotebi, spotebi.com. (Unknown).

This pose always gets my blood flowing (probably because I’m upside down). This pose is going to help stretch a lot of your muscles. It helps with alignment, stretches your waist, and opens up your chest. It also helps with strengthening your core.

To do this pose you will need to start by standing with your legs even with your hips. Step forward with one foot and point it facing forward in front of you. Then turn towards the leg you moved and bend downwards (like in the picture to the right of this section). Touch your foot facing forward. Then extend your other arm upwards to the sky. Look upwards while you are doing this pose and breathe. It will be hard at first, but your body will eventually get used to it.

 

10)Head to Knee Forward Bend Pose

head to knee pose
Photo Credit Spotebi, spotebi.com. (2018)

The head to knee pose is great for stretching out your back and your legs and feet. It also helps with digestion.

You will need to start with sitting with your legs together in front of you. Again, I would use a yoga mat. Then slowly bend one leg towards you. Bend forward towards the leg still extended outwards. Clasp our hands around your foot and slowly breathe. Let your body fall in to that position naturally.

 

Below under “Resources” there are some really great websites regarding yoga poses and more in depth information about each pose.

 

Resources:

Yoga Outlet. (2018). How to do Warrior 1 Post in Yoga. Retrieved from https://www.yogaoutlet.com/guides/how-to-do-warrior-i-pose-in-yoga/

Vyda Blelkus. (2014). 5 Great Yoga Poses for New Moms. Retrieved from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/vyda-bielkus/yoga-poses_b_5287615.html

Unknown. (2018). How to Do Reclined Spinal Twist in Yoga. Retrieved from https://www.yogaoutlet.com/guides/how-to-do-reclined-spinal-twist-in-yoga/

 

Losing Weight After Baby is Born

Photo Credit urexweiler, urexweiler.net. (2016)

The first thing on most mom’s minds after having a baby is “I can’t wait to get this baby weight off.” At least that’s what I’ve been focusing on my entire pregnancy. Before I got pregnant the fitness bug bit me. I lost about 15 lbs (I think more)…maybe more. I was feeling great. My body felt better. I was clean eating and staying away from high calorie foods (baked goods, huge meals, etc). Then I got pregnant. This was a blessing. We wanted a second child. I honestly didn’t think it would happen so soon after losing weight.

So now here I am trying not to get upset about gaining that weight back. I’m hoping I’ll lose all of it after giving birth (I can dream right?).

How Do I Safely Exercise After Giving Birth?: Low Impact Exercises

Well, first you need to make sure your doctor says it’s fine and you are released to do so. Most doctors give the okay around 6 weeks postpartum. If you had a c-section or things were complicated during delivery it’s more like 8-10 weeks postpartum (Baby Center Medical Advisory Board., 2016). Again, consult your doctor first. Second, you should start slow. Start with low impact exercises. These are going to be exercises that are “joint friendly”. These include walking, yoga, Pilates, swimming, etc. If you start hurting or bleeding excessively be sure not to over do it. Take regular breaks and hydrate A LOT.

Walking

walking
Photo Credit Smiriti Agarwal. (2017)

So, as mentioned above walking is a great, low impact form of exercise for being postpartum. Start slow. When your body gets more comfortable with this then you can walk faster. Use your arms. Move your arms back and forth to help you walk quicker. Try things like inclines. Try different terrains. Mixing up your workout will challenge your body to keep up each time you exercise.

If you are lucky enough to have a baby while it’s warm out then take advantage of that. Put baby in the stroller and take a walk.

Yoga: Of Course!

yoga
Photo Credit Gaia, gaia.com. (2018)

Yoga is good for anyone who is pregnant or not pregnant, male or female. Yoga helps tone and stretch muscles. This is prefect for postpartum mommies. This will help strengthen your joints back to where they need to be. Yoga also helps tone. Which means your muscles will slowly start healing. When you’re pregnant your muscles pull away from your stomach, and your joints stretch and become weak. Yoga helps target those two issues and helps heal your body. There is a great article here in which you can find several different great yoga positions to try postpartum. I highly recommend yoga.

Swimming

swimming
Photo Credit StacieStauffSmith Photos/Shutterstock. (2017)

Swimming is very low impact. You have the water to help balance gravity. This is great on your flimsy joints and stretched out muscles that you got from pregnancy. It also works your upper and lower body, as well as your core. This goes right along with toning and helping to retract those stretched out muscles and joints.

Make sure you talk to your doctor first about when swimming is an option after childbirth. This is especially true for c-section mommies.

 

Don’t Over Do It!

I know this is easier said than done. You just had a baby. You are in a never ending balancing act. You have to take care of baby on little to no sleep. You want to exercise. You might have to go back to work in just 6 weeks. Plus, you have a husband who needs you too. You’re also trying to run the household and making sure that no one loses their heads while getting dinner ready and children to bed.

Just make sure you hydrate. Take several breaks. Listen to your body. No one knows your body better than you do.

What are your favorite postpartum workouts? Did you give birth naturally or via c-section and how did that impact your exercise?

 

Resources:

Wendy’s Blog. (Unknown). Mutu System. Retrieved from https://mutusystem.com/mutu-system-blog/post-partum-fitness-low-impact

Baby Center Medical Advisory Board. (2016). Postpartum Exercise: Is Your Body Ready? Retrieved from https://www.babycenter.com/0_postpartum-exercise-is-your-body-ready_196.bc

Deblina Biswas. (Unknown). 10 Effective Yoga Poses to Lose Weight After Having a Baby. Retrieved from https://www.thefitindian.com/yoga-poses-to-lose-weight-after-pregnancy/

Natural Birth? C-Section?: Which is Right for Me?

Photo Credit http://www.stylehuntworld.blogspot.com

First, I want to say you are no less of a mother if you have a cesarean section (c-section) birth or a natural birth, or if you have a natural birth and decide to use drugs to help in the process. I see mom shaming going on about this topic all the time. It’s so controversial. I just want to set the topic straight on this. I am a c-section mommy and proud of it. There are advantages and disadvantages to both types of birth, so please don’t judge another mother just because she had a different birthing experience than you.

Let’s dive right in!

Natural Birth

natural birth
Photo Credit Baby Center Medical Advisory Board

A natural birth is exactly that. However, there’s so many ways to have a natural birth. Do you want to use drugs to help along the process? Do you want to be pumped with any inducing drugs (Pitocin) or use an epidural? Do you think you’ll need an episiotomy? What is your birthing plan? Do you have one in mind?

Okay, great! You have thought about a birthing plan. Now throw it out the window. You can plan whatever birthing plan you want, but baby is still the one making the shots. Baby makes the shots for the rest of your life, so you better get used to it now.

Natural Birthing Advantages

The number one thing as a mom of having an all natural birth (no drugs necessary) is that you did it. You birthed that beautiful bundle of joy all by yourself, no drugs necessary. I’ve been there. I went in with the mindset of “I’m doing this all by myself and I am a woman. Hear me roar.” Now, this is not a bad mind set to have going in to your delivery.

Advantages of if you are able to do it all natural is that you are completely involved, in control. You get to mentally be involved as well as physically. You get to call the shots of how you position yourself. You get to mentally push yourself to accomplish the greatest thing you’ve ever done with your life. You have no loss of sensation of your nervous system. All those things they taught you in your birthing classes get to come in handy while you push powerfully to birth your baby.

forceps vacuum
Photo Credit Parent Resource Network

You are also less likely to have the need for forceps or a vacuum to help with your deliver (Baby Center Medical Advisory Board, 2017). These are to name a few of the wonderful advantages of having a drug free, natural delivery.

There’s also the fact that you don’t run the risks of having surgery because there is no surgery, unlike that of a c-section. You don’t run the risks of drug reactions either. Recovery time for a natural birth is significantly lower than that of a c-section as well (Nierenberg, C., 2015).

Natural Birthing Disadvantages

The number one thing that comes immediately to my mind is drugs they give you to help you birth. Are they safe? Will they effect my baby? Well yes, but not in the way you might think. The disadvantages to having things like the epidural is you are so numb you can not feel what is going on down there. Trust me, I know. Been there, done that. I was numb all the way up to my chest and could not feel my arms. It was the weirdest feeling I’ve ever felt in my life. If you are a control freak and want to have every involvement with your deliver then using drugs to help is probably not a good idea for you. I am THAT control freak, so don’t feel bad.

episiotomy
Photo Credit The LBC Health Group

With a natural birth you run the risk of tearing your lady parts. I know a lot of patients and women who ripped open before the doctor had a chance to do the epesiotomy. That results in a lot of scarring. It does not look the same after that. Even if your doctor is able to do the epesiotomy in time the stitches and the tearing from that is still going to leave a scar forever. Some women don’t care, and some do. I cared. Really though how big is that concern for you when the alternative could be a huge c-section scar?

pitocin

Some women get induced using Pitocin, and labor for hours and hours. This can exhaust mom and baby. Eventually if things aren’t moving along they will decide to do a C-section. Again, you run even more risks with a c-section surgery.

There is also the involvement with your partner to consider. I labored for 15 hours and then had to have an emergency c-section. When I was laboring I was ready to rip a rail off the hospital bed. I was in so much pain. I did not want anyone, not even my husband, to talk to me, look at me, ask me any questions, or especially touch me. That can hinder the birthing experience for your partner, to say the least. When they did the epidural to start the process of a c-section the room felt more calm. It felt like I could relax, and enjoy what was going on. I felt nicer as a person too. The pain was no longer there. I was able to let go and let my husband hold my hand, touch me, and tell me everything was going to be okay.

Natural Birth and Drugs

I’ve touched a little bit on it already, but I want to go more in depth for anyone who has any more questions about the drugs used during delivery. Let’s start with Pitocin. This drug is usually used to jump start labor. If you get scheduled to be induced they’re more than likely giving you Pitocin. “Pitocin, a brand name drug, is the synthetic version of Oxytocin, a natural hormone that helps your uterus contract during labor” (Rolano, R., 2017). With that being said it is a synthetic way they can jump start those contractions to get labor moving right along. Depending on how you feel about synthetic drugs and inducing labor, Pitocin is the way to go. Don’t forget about the risks with any medication or drug used though. Talk to your doctor first.

epidural

Another thing they use during delivery is an epidural. “Epidural medications fall into a class of drugs called local anesthetics, such as bupivacaine, chloroprocaine, or lidocaine. They are often delivered in combination with opioids or narcotics such as fentanyl and sufentanil in order to decrease the required dose of local anesthetic” (American Pregnancy Association, 2017). An epidural is given through IV to your spine. “For a spinal block, narcotics or anesthetic is injected once with a needle. For a spinal epidural or combined spinal epidural, a catheter is placed in the epidural space to allow continuous anesthesia (American Pregnancy Association, 2015). The photo located towards the left shows the different areas the needles are inserted. Again, talk to your doctor to make sure this is the right choice for your birthing plan if you are considering drugs during delivery.

Cesarean Section (C-Section) Birth

csection
Photo Credit Reiter and Walsh

The cesarean section birth is something I am all too familiar with. The c-section has a long list of advantages and disadvantages. It’s a surgery, a major surgery. A c-section is not to be taken lightly. If considering this as your birthing plan please talk to your doctor first. There is a lot of prepping for this surgery, as well as prepping mentally for this.

Advantages of a C-Section Birth

There are only a few advantages to mention about a c-section birth. You get to plan exactly when your baby is coming. There are no in the middle of the night surprises (as long as baby decides to stay in long enough for the scheduled surgery to happen). Doctors also perform c-sections at 38-39 weeks, so you do not have to be pregnant a full 40 weeks term.

Another thing I want to talk about is partner involvement. Like I said previously, as soon as they gave me that epidural the room seemed more calm. I was able to think about other things. I was able to allow my husband to be involved. After they cut me open and took out our gorgeous, perfect little daughter he was the sole parent for her the first few hours of her life while I was in recovery. If I had a natural birth, I would have been there the first few hours of her life. I think the c-section gives a chance for your partner to really bond with the baby. After that you are the one feeding and rocking the baby most of the time. It’s hard sometimes for the partners, and they end up not feeling as involved with the baby.

Disadvantages of a C-Section

I know I touched on it earlier, but drugs for a c-section birth are a must. They have to do an epidural anesthesia. The risks include blood pressure dropping, headaches caused by spinal fluid leaking, and shivering sensations. There’s also nausea, backaches, ringing in ears, and difficulty urinating. You are not allowed to get out of bed, so going to the bathroom is not an option. They catheterize your bladder so you are able to empty your bladder and not get out of bed.

I remember having the shivering sensations pretty badly. I felt cold and was shaking, but I was not cold. I also remember just wanting to get out of bed to go to the bathroom by myself instead of having what seemed like the whole world watch me go to the bathroom in a bag connected to my urethra.

There have been issues reported of permanent nerve damage where the epidural was placed in the spine.

There have also been studies that say babies have a harder time latching on when birthed via c-section. “Other studies suggest that a baby might experience respiratory depression, fetal malpositioning, and an increase in fetal heart rate variability (American Pregnancy Association, 2017). I highly encourage you to go to the American Pregnancy Association website and read the article on epidurals. It is very informative, especially if you are considering a c-section birth.

The recovery time for a c-section is a lot longer than a natural birth. Again, this is a real surgery. Movement will be limited, so that makes taking care of baby a little harder as well. I was barely able to walk for months. After about 10 weeks I still had trouble walking long periods at a time. I would have to take a lot of breaks in between walking.

The more obvious disadvantage of a c-section delivery is the scar. The scar is huge. I know it’s low in your groin area, but it also bothers me a lot. I notice when the weather is changing my scar tends to hurt. It’s been 5 years since I had my c-section and the scar still acts up.

In Conclusion

Please be aware that any birthing plan you choose is yours. It also needs to be discussed with your doctor. Not only will it be recognized by your doctor and the nursing staff, but also so they can make sure your birthing plan goes as according to plan as it possibly can. If there are options that are better for you and baby your doctor will be able to tell you. Make sure you write down all your questions to take to your next doctor’s appointment.

Birthing your baby via natural birth or cesarean birth is a personal experience. It does not mean you made a wrong choice if your birthing plan does not go how you hoped it would have. It does not make you less of a mother if you wanted a natural birth, but the doctor had to intervene to help protect your baby via drugs, medications, or a surgery.

*I would love to hear about your birthing story below in the comments section. If you have more to add to help other moms with choosing their birthing plan please comment below. Thank you so much.*

Resources:

Mena, Katie. (2016). Pitocin Induction: The Risks and Benefits. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/pitocin-induction

Baby Center Medical Advisory Board. (2017). Natural Childbirth. Retrieved from https://www.babycenter.com/natural-childbirth

Nierenberg, Cari, Live Science Contributor. (2015). Vaginal Birth Vs. C-Section: Pros and Cons. Retrieved from https://www.livescience.com/45681-vaginal-birth-vs-c-section.html

Rolano, Rose, The Bump Contributor. (2017). The Lowdown on Using Pitocin During Labor. Retrieved from https://www.thebump.com/a/pitocin

American Pregnancy Association. (2017). Epidural Anesthesia. Retrieved from http://americanpregnancy.org/labor-and-birth/epidural/

American Pregnancy Association. (2015). Spinal Block. Retrieved from http://americanpregnancy.org/labor-and-birth/spinal-block/

Calorie Counting: Does It Work? And How Do I Do It?

Okay first of all YES! Yes it works! I’ve seen results on many patients, including myself and my family.

Are you good with numbers (addition and subtraction)? Are you good with using apps to help you?

If you said “Yes” to any of these then keep reading. I have fantastic news for you.

Okay, so if you couldn’t tell already I am very passionate about this. I am passionate because I believe everyone has the opportunity to be healthy, and to succeed at being healthy. I want to help you help yourself.

my fitness pal

If you haven’t heard me rant about these two apps yet you are missing out! My Fitness Pal, and Map My Walk. You can get them for Android and for Apple operating systems.

I am not going to go in to detail about how to use them. You can find out more here.

So…you decided it’s time for a change. That’s fantastic and I am so proud of you. Please reach out to me with any questions or if you are looking for that extra support. I would love to help!

map my walk appFirst thing is first: Weigh yourself naked every day on a scale. Do it first thing in the morning before you have that first cup of coffee. I find that even if I take a shower first I weigh more than before (all that water weighing down my hair, it’s a real thing. I promise).

1) Enter your weight in the My Fitness Pal app. 

After you have done that then go ahead and start picking out your breakfast. Guess what! Everything has calories in it. Make sure you are watching how many calories you have for the day in your app. This will better allow you to spread out your calorie intake for the day.

2) Enter your food in to your My Fitness Pal app.

Feeling motivated yet? I am. Now it’s time to start exercising. You can do anything from jogging, to yoga, to tennis, to soccer, etc. ANYTHING! The My Fitness Pal app knows how many calories you are burning by what activity you are doing. Just log it in.

texting phone3) Log your exercise in to the My Fitness Pal app.

If you are a jogger/walker/runner/etc then I strongly recommend using the Map My Walk app. It knows your location and can tell you exactly your path, calories burned, and speed. I especially like it because I jog. I know roughly how long it takes me to do a mile. I like to do three, so I can judge how long I’ll be out of the house.

jogging4) Record your walk/run in your Map My Walk app.

The more you exercise the more calories you have at the end of the day for dessert. If you go over don’t worry. There’s always that cheat day once a week.

 

Any questions yet? Please reach out to me! I would love to hear from you. This is the easiest method I have found (I love numbers and challenges). I am free to eat whatever I want, and I get to call the shots. If I don’t exercise to earn my calories for that bowl of ice cream at the end of the day then that’s on me. Not the diet.

Good luck!