WDAY.com |

North Dakota's #1 news website 10,650,498 page views — March 2014

Published March 20, 2013, 11:40 PM

Getting your body back after baby starts with fitness regimen during pregancy

FARGO – Kelly Polcher didn’t work out regularly before becoming pregnant. Then her doctor told her that staying active and being in shape would make labor go more smoothly, ease the aches and pains of pregnancy and help her get her body back after her first child is born. Polcher, of West Fargo, is due in May, and hitting the gym with a personal trainer.

By: Sherri Richards, INFORUM

FARGO – Kelly Polcher didn’t work out regularly before becoming pregnant.

Then her doctor told her that staying active and being in shape would make labor go more smoothly, ease the aches and pains of pregnancy and help her get her body back after her first child is born.

Polcher, of West Fargo, is due in May, and hitting the gym with a personal trainer.

She says she was slightly overweight before pregnancy. Diet and exercise have helped her maintain a healthy weight gain of about 12 pounds so far.

“I’m hoping it will set me up for continuing on the right track,” she says.

Staying fit while pregnant is one of the biggest factors affecting quickly women can get back in shape after baby is born.

A woman’s body returns to its pre-pregnancy state four to six weeks postpartum, says Jennifer Janke, a women’s health nurse practitioner and certified nurse midwife with Essentia Health in Fargo and West Fargo.

Pre-pregnancy exercise routines can be returned to gradually in the postpartum, based on each woman’s own capabilities. For example, a woman who had a C-section would need longer to recover.

Fatigue and impatience are the two biggest challenges new moms face in getting their bodies back in shape, says Jake Erickson, Polcher’s personal trainer who works at Family Wellness in south Fargo.

“A lot of women want to get back to right where they were. They want to jump back into the workouts they did. You can’t do that. It’s a process,” Erickson says.

Erickson is studying to become a women’s fitness specialist, an additional personal training credential through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. The training covers all aspects of women’s fitness, including pregnancy, postpartum and menopause.

After giving birth, a woman’s body needs to heal, which requires sleep and good nutrition, he says.

Walking, yoga, pilates, and swimming are all workouts he recommends. Muscle exercises using resistance bands can also help tone.

Abdominal muscles need time to heal before crunches can be done, Janke says.

Erickson says getting a stomach back in shape after pregnancy depends a lot on diet. A common motto among trainers is “Abs are made in the kitchen.”

Janke says the best exercise for a postpartum woman is one she enjoys. “All the recommendations say they should really looking into exercise that is not going to cause them more stress but is going to be fun for them to do,” she says.

There is a significant decrease in the frequency of postpartum depression when women return to physical exercise after birth, but only if the exercise is stress-relieving and not stress-provoking, Janke says.

“There’s always enough time in the day to make your body healthier,” Janke says. “It’s just making that a priority, that it’s more important to get that 30 minutes than to try to fold a basket of laundry.”

Many gyms provide child care, Janke notes. Or baby can be included in a postpartum fitness routine.

“Strollers are made to go on walks. Put them to use,” she says.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend a baseline of 150 minutes of moderate intense aerobic activity per week for health pregnant women and postpartum women, Janke says.

That activity during pregnancy makes perhaps the most difference.

Studies show women who work out while pregnant regain their shape faster, have healthier babies, and those babies grow into leaner 5-year-olds, Erickson says.

Pregnant women should avoid exercises performed in a hot environment, like hot yoga, Janke says.

While abdominal exercises can be done while pregnant, “there will be a time when those will have to be stopped because they won’t be comfortable for the woman,” Janke says.

While they can lift weights, they should add more weight to their routine during pregnancy.

Erickson advises pregnant women to wear loose clothing to dissipate heat, drink enough fluids and listen to their bodies.

Erickson has his pregnant clients wear a heart rate monitor, but relies more on the “talk test,” making sure they can talk comfortably while working out.

Brooke Vickmark, of West Fargo, is due in mid-September. She’s a runner, and started training with Erickson to make sure she kept her heart rate down while staying active.

Though plans to run a marathon this summer were quashed, she’s planning to run shorter races well into her pregnancy.

“I definitely want to be able to jump back into my fitness pre-pregnancy state,” she says.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Sherri Richards at (701) 241-5556.

Tags: