Becoming a mom is a life-changing event literally, mentally, and of course, physically. Our bodies go through all these changes. Although there is no feeling comparable to having our babies in our arms, we’re constantly drained from lack of sleep. Our bellies look different from our pre-pregnancy body, some of us end up with a different shoe size, and as for our breasts, what goes up, must go—!
It’s only natural for us to yearn to for our pre-baby figure. How do we make this happen? Will staying active during pregnancy make it easier to lose the baby weight? When exactly can a mom get back to her regular workout routine? These are some of the frequently asked questions for which there are no clear-cut answers as it’s different for every woman.
We sat down with Dra. Leonor Leonardo M.D. practicing Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Timothy Amiel Ngo, an Exercise and Nutrition Coach certified by the International Fitness Professionals Association (IFPA). They’ll give us the lowdown on your FAQs about exercise and nutrition during and post-pregnancy.
Exercise During Pregnancy: Is it safe?
MM: We hear that exercise during pregnancy benefits both mom and baby. We want to know if it is really safe to exercise while pregnant?
Dra. Leonardo: Yes, it is safe to exercise while pregnant so long as the pregnancy is normal and there are no co-morbid conditions or existing medical condition that affects the mother.
There are absolute contraindications that make it unsafe to exercise. These are heart disease, hypertension, lung disease, multifetal pregnancies that can result in premature contractions or delivery, vaginal bleeding, and placenta previa. A patient with incompetent cervix also cannot exercise while pregnant.
Women with uncomplicated pregnancies should be encouraged to engage in aerobic and strength-conditioning exercises before, during, and after pregnancy. Aerobic exercises are generally safe. Physical activity in pregnancy has minimal risks and has been shown to benefit most women. Although some modification to exercise routines may be necessary because of the normal anatomic and physiologic changes and fetal requirements of the body. As with both pregnant and non-pregnant patients, evaluation by thorough physical examination and evaluation of medical history should be done prior to any exercise routine.
MM: What happens if a mom exercises too much during pregnancy?
Dra. Leonardo: As it is, pregnant women experience easy fatigability because of the changes that happen to their bodies. If they exercise too much, they can have difficulty of breathing, muscle pain, even premature contractions that can lead to bleeding and premature birth.
Exercise After Giving Birth: When is the Right Time?
MM: After giving birth, how soon before a mom can start exercising again? Is the time frame different for women who gave birth by Cesarian section?
Dra. Leonardo: The ideal time frame to lose the pregnancy weight is about 3 to 6 months. Meanwhile, the recovery time from delivery where everything goes back to its place is 6 weeks.
Women with normal deliveries can exercise already after a week or two. But if you give birth by C-section, you need to wait 3 months before resuming your workout routine. About 150 minutes a week of exercise is recommended. But it also depends on the recommendation of the OB-Gyne.
Always be aware of your body. Over-exercising will depend on your health status. Moms should stop exercising if they feel pain, especially when they experience bleeding.
MM: Does exercise have any effect on baby as well, especially if she’s breast-feeding?
Dra. Leonardo: Aerobic exercises do not affect lactation and milk production. It’s good because it increases cardiovascular wellness of nursing mothers. But if the mother fails to hydrate when she exercises, milk production might decrease.
Also, exercise will not change the taste of the milk. It has very little effect, if at all. The taste of the milk depends on the mother’s dietary choices.
Nutrition and the New Mom
MM: Nutrition plays a crucial role in getting fit. What diet would be best for new moms?
Timothy: If a mom doesn’t have any underlying medical conditions, then I would recommend the 50-30-20 ratio. This means that 50% of the plate should be from carbohydrates, 30% should be from viands, and the remaining 20% from a healthy fat source such as nuts or avocados. You also need to factor in age, weight and height.
MM: What are the things new moms should consider before starting a fitness regimen?
Timothy: Having the right mindset and determination is critical in ensuring that your fitness regimen will be successful. If the person is a complete beginner in fitness and nutrition protocols, then she should seek professional help for the first few months. Ideally, she should be able to do it on her own after half a year or even earlier.
As a fitness professional myself, my take is that a nutritionist is more important than the fitness trainer as proper food intake will do way more than exercise. Don’t take it the wrong way though as these two, when combined properly, will be highly effective in achieving your dream body. It’s just that people often emphasize more on the workouts without understanding that majority of the work is done by proper nutrition.
MM: Should our new mom join a gym and sign-up with a trainer or can she do it on her own?
Timothy: It is never too late to get back into shape and for that, you do not need a gym membership nor any equipment whatsoever to be fit and healthy. Majority of my clients utilize a home-based circuit instead of a gym workout. Just remember to take it slow and do not over-exercise. Be fair to your body.
MM: What advice can you give our moms who want to get in shape?
Timothy: Let me share with you the journey of my client, Alexis. She was struggling to shed off her weight for years and she was on the brink of depression when she signed up with me. At first, she was skeptical, but she kept at it. Soon, Alexis became very enthusiastic about her workouts and nutrition goals. This was a total transformation of her mindset, not just her body. Four months later, she was able to bring down her weight from 156 lbs. to 139 lbs.
I understand that a lot of you may be going through the same ordeal. You try to do whatever it is that you can to get off that extra 1 lb off but to no avail. But do know that it’s never too late to try and that all you need is the proper guidance and a determined mindset. Alexis’ only goal back then was to get her collarbones to show, but 4 months later, she achieved more than she originally planned.
A Weighty Issue
So new moms, let’s be kinder to ourselves. For now, forget skinny and let your goal be that you stay strong and healthy for your little one. Learning from our experts, exercise, good nutrition, and the right mindset will eventually lead us on our way to good health. Meanwhile, let’s accept that results won’t happen overnight so it’s best to arm ourselves with patience and just enjoy every part of the journey. No matter what our state of fitness is, motherhood and the changes it brings will surely gift us with the best years of our lives.
For this article, Mommy Mundo interviewed Dra. Leonor Leonardo and Timothy Amiel Ngo.
Dr. Leonor Leonardo, M.D., OB-Gyne, Asian Hospital and Medical Center
Clinic Schedule: M, W, F, S
Contact Number: (02) 771-0585 to 86
Timothy Amiel Ngo
Exercise and Nutrition Coach certified by the International Fitness Professionals Association (IFPA)
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Facebook page : The Architect PH