Did you know that July through September is the time when most babies are born? This means October is when you’ll see everyone scrambling to drop that baby weight!
I should know — I have several friends who have given birth recently or are ready to pop any day now.
While I know a lot about fitness for the general population, I realized I don’t know that much about pre and post-natal exercise. With many of my friends looking for advice lately, I figured I better find out.
I turned to celebrity trainer and hot mama Sara Haley, an expert in workouts for pregnant women and new moms. Sara created the exercise series Expecting More®, a prenatal program for moms-to-be, and Expecting More®: The 4th Trimester Workout, helping new moms get their pre-baby bods back.
Today, the mother of two is sharing her top tips for exercise, eating right, and feeling great pre and post-pregnancy.
Q&A with Sara Haley
How long should women wait to exercise after giving birth and what are some considerations when starting a post-pregnancy workout routine?
“After having a baby, you MUST wait and get your doctor’s approval before exercising again. Do not go back too early or you will regret it. You’ll want to test yourself for a diastasis recti, which is a separation of the abdominal muscles that occurs in 50%+ of pregnancies.”
Are there any exercises that are off limits?
“In the first few weeks of postnatal recovery (after given approval from your doctor), I suggest that you still avoid intense cardio, jumping, deep lunges (especially side lunges and sumo squats) and crunches.”
What about during pregnancy? At what point should a pregnant woman stop working out and are there exercises she should always avoid?
“LISTEN to your body! Pregnant women can workout at a moderate level for them. So, your exercise choices depend a lot on what you were doing prior to pregnancy. Pregnancy is definitely a time to move your body and be motivated and inspired, however, it is NOT a time to challenge your body and push beyond your limits.
Unless you are at risk of pre-term labor or any other condition where your doctor recommends you not workout, pregnant women can exercise up until delivery.”
What was the hardest thing for you personally during pregnancy and post-pregnancy?
“My pregnancies have been fairly easy, however, the bigger my babies got (meaning, so did I), the less I was able to do physically. Clearly, I’m a physical person, so the hardest thing for me, as it is for many active women, is having to slow down and really listen to my body. I actually find postnatal recovery to be more challenging and humbling for similar reasons.
It’s hard when you are no longer pregnant, but feel pregnant. While you’re in recovery, you still need to modify your movements, even though a baby is no longer inside you. When you’re a natural mover, that’s hard. I like to just move and not think so much about it, but in pregnancy and in post, you have to be so mindful because it’s not just about you anymore. That’s why it was so hard for me to find workouts to do (and ultimately why I created my own) – I wanted something that was safe, yet still motivating and fun to do.”
How do you feel your body changed since giving birth?
“There is more loose skin around my belly from having carried and delivered two boys around 8.5 lbs. My core strength is back and even some tone and muscle, but my skin has been stretched and there is not a whole lot I can do about that. I also feel like I fluctuate more than I used to, but mostly because eating with kids can be more challenging. It’s all dependent on my food choices.
The reality is that this has to do both with babies, and just getting older. That being said, I actually feel more comfortable in my own skin than I probably ever have. Mostly because it doesn’t matter as much to me – having fun with my kids is far more important than looking hot in my skinny jeans.”
What are your favorite exercises for pregnant women?
“My favorite exercises for pregnant women are ones that make them feel good. For me, that was dancing, but for others it could be running, swimming or strength training. I love pelvic rocks and cat cow moves as well – both are great ways to work the core and help bring comfort to the low back.”
What are your favorite post-pregnancy exercises?
“In post, my favorite exercises are core moves that help you regain your core strength and tone, which is why my postnatal program has three core-specific workouts.”
What dietary recommendations do you make to women looking to lose that baby weight?
“Hydrating with water is key for all post-recovery, but especially when breastfeeding. As moms, we are sometimes so busy that we forget to drink water and dehydration can sometimes cause you to think you’re hungry when really you’re just thirsty. So, drinking a lot of water can help you avoid eating too many empty calories.
I definitely recommend paying attention to what you eat, whether that’s with a mobile app, notebook, or just being mindful. With kids you sometimes forget how much you’re eating (snacking, eating off your kids plates, etc.) and what you’re eating (mac ’n cheese, pizza, etc.) so I always recommend that you try to make conscious choices when it comes to what you put in your body.”
For “4th Trimester moms” with older children, are there any workouts you recommend to do with your kids?
“I actually have quite a few friends with older children who do my workouts with their kids! I also recommend dance parties (no matter what age your kids are), setting up relay races and obstacle courses in your yard, or playing sports.”