Moms, the struggle is real. Staying fit is hard enough in the first place, let alone after being pregnant for nine months and THEN the responsibilities of being a mom to a growing family. Even worse, your fitness takes on a whole new dimension after your baby is born – particularly if you’re breastfeeding! You probably have a lot of questions, like how to lose weight while breastfeeding, how to get your belly back in shape and more. I’m a mom of two AND I have a Master’s degree in Exercise Science and I want to answer these questions for you. Read on!
Lucky for you guys, I put this all in a short and sweet video course called The New Mom’s Guide to Fitness.
How to lose weight while breastfeeding
For me, I was always scared to lose baby weight because I didn’t want to mess with my milk supply. Most moms don’t know how to lose weight while breastfeeding – and there’s definitely some important points you don’t want to miss. You should never eat below a certain number of calories, and it’s important to have a specific mix of nutrients (fat, protein and carbohydrate). It’s also important to lose fat at a gentle pace. I talk about the specifics in the New Mom’s Guide to Fitness and include a worksheet that shows you how to calculate our daily calorie intake AND your proportion of fat, protein and carbohydrate.
How to safely train your core
The most common abdominal exercises might actually be dangerous after you’ve had a baby – especially the types of workouts you get on Pinterest and in mainstream fitness DVDs. Crunches, planks, V-ups and burpees can be too much load on your weakened midsection. There are some very specific steps you need to take to protect your abdomen postpartum, or you might end up with a hernia. I talk about what NOT to do, and also include a video with a few sample exercises you can do instead.
Preventing baby wearing injuries
A lot of moms end up with VERY sore backs from carrying or wearing their little ones. Since your kids always want to be held, this is not good. There are a few tips that can help you head off aches and pains and I’ll cover those in the New Mom’s Guide to Fitness.
The right goals
There’s so much else that goes into staying fit after having a baby. Planning and goal setting are two HUGE components where moms make a lot of mistakes. My goal is to help you get off on the right foot by having the right plan for you.
I’m an experienced fitness professional and mom. I’ve got a short, sweet and affordable video course to help you take ownership of your fitness after having a baby!
So, a year ago this month I was stepping on the NPC stage for the first time, and I looked like this…
Almost exactly a year later, I look like this:
My Fitness Update, 37 Weeks Pregnant:
I want to give a realistic picture of what my body looks like when I’m pregnant – I feel like too many pregnant women “hide” their bodies. I’m not posting professional photos, airbrushed photos or selfies from the perfect angle. I want you to see the real thing!
I’m fit, happy and healthy, but there’s a definite difference between my non-pregnant and pregnant body. I maintained as much muscle mass as I could (that was my big goal for this pregnancy), but my body fat is definitely higher (necessary for the health of baby) and I lost some lower body mass from contraindications to my lifting. No matter how fit you stay, your body is going to be different when you’re pregnant! Embrace it and don’t hate it! I am very happy knowing that I truly kept doing as much as I possibly could – and knowing that it will be much easier to return to “normal” after this baby is born!
I had to slow my pace down, this week – not bad, as it’s the first time I can say I needed to “slow down” for this pregnancy. No more deadlifting, less time on my feet, less cardio. I am still doing single leg squats (4×10 to the bench, still!), light leg press and light kettlebell squats/deadlifts. I’ve gained 27 lbs since my first midwife appointment (~10 weeks). I estimate I’ve gained about 30 lbs, total, so far. I am really not focused on weight, though – more how I feel. I hadn’t missed one workout for this entire pregnancy and averaged 5 days per week, with most weeks achieving 6 days of physical activity per week. I took my first deliberate day off last week, opting for a long nap instead.
I really want to stay on top of my goals post-baby. I know that going from 1 child to 2 is going to be a big change, on top of several changes that we have going on in our personal life. So, I enlisted the help and accountability of a fellow coach to keep me motivated! I really believe in the impact a coach can have on reaching your goals, so I am practicing what I preach!
Alyx and I both agreed that this next year is not the time for me to be following a meal plan, trying to excessively cut body fat or doing water cycling for a show. My first priority is facilitating breastfeeding and mothering. Instead, I’ll be focusing on building my muscular base more and maintaining a body fat that is easy to “cut down” for modeling and shows.
My body fat does not define my self worth, so I am excited about this set of goals!
Here are the goals I sent to Alyx Ulbrich, WBFF Pro, with some small things left out
“1. Have the most gorgeous physique possible in 1 year, taking into the challenges/changes coming up and supporting breastfeeding/mothering. […].
Would like to *maybe* show again after 1 year (July 2016), with timing depending on how long I need to cut. Not sure what organization or division.
2. Build some muscle. I’m not sure how much. Probably a lot/as much as possible. I’m not really thinking about this according to fitting into a competition category… just something I want to do. PS I will definitely be able to lift 4-5 x/week for the month of July and probably August, too (have a gym I can bring baby too).3. Deadlift 225 for 5. Max I’ve done is 205 for 5 and it did not feel great. I haven’t done anything under 8 reps in ~6 months. My nervous system is sleepy!4. 5 Pullups – I could do 4 before I got pregnant this time. I’m not sure where I am now… my lat pull down is about the same.5. Run a 5k with an 8 minute mile or better. I am a super slow runner so this seems ambitious, but needs to be done. “
Her’es my Third Trimester Pregnancy Fitness Update! I’m feeling really great – baby is healthy and so am I! I’m getting a little more tired, but only when I actually have time to slow down and notice : ) I’m happy that I’ve maintained a lot of muscle mass. My varicose veins are pretty bad and I am wearing compression stockings for that, but all the work I did with my women’s health physical therapist really paid off – my pelvic floor feels great, I have no pain from my diastasis recti anymore AND I haven’t sneezed & peed once this pregnancy. Winner winner!
I’m getting pretty excited to see what’s left under this baby belly of mine… I used a little photoshop fun to see what I might look like after the baby comes out. If only my stomach were actually going to be that flat and not stretched out! 😉 I’ll be trying post-partum belly binding this time. I’m doing it to help my diastasis heal, but it certainly won’t hurt for helping to reshape my midsection after 9 months of stretching it out!
Hey, did you miss my 28-week-pregnant deadlifting video? Then you must not be following my facebook page!
Did you know that nursing moms can lose as much as 5% of their bone mass in the first three months of breastfeeding? Most moms don’t know that there’s a relationship between breastfeeding and bone loss.
The Mechanics of Breastfeeding and Bone Loss
The action of an infant suckling at your breast creates a hormonal reaction in your body. This reaction is very similar to menopause: Your hormones change so you don’t ovulate or have your period, your uterus gets smaller and skin becomes dry. Some nursing moms even experience hot flashes, mood swings and night sweats. And, like menopause, your bone mass is affected from the hormonal changes. Thus, breastfeeding and bone loss can go together.
However, there’s good news. Researchers believe that nursing moms gain bone back after weaning – and at a faster rate than they normally would. So, these changes in bone mineral density can “balance out” from lactation to weaning. Breastfeeding and bone loss shouldn’t be a problem unless you’re already predisposed to bone loss. You might be predisposed if you’ve had estrogen therapy for fertility, have a family history of osteoporosis, have a recent history of disordered eating, have had a previous loss of menstruation (amenorrhea) for a long time, or weigh very little. It is unclear whether consecutive pregnancy and breastfeeding years increase your risk of bone loss. However, we DO know that loss of your period (amenorrhea) in non-breastfeeding women does increase risk of osteopenia and osteoporosis.
Caring for Your Post-Partum Bones
Still, it’s very important to take care of your bone health during the post-partum period. Most of this “stuff” is common knowledge, but it can be so hard to even keep up with the basics when you have a new baby. I hope understanding more about bone loss and breastfeeding will help moms find added motivation to stay active and eat well!
Some ways to take care of your bones:
- Make sure you’re eating enough foods rich in vitamins and minerals, which helps prevent unnecessary bone loss and promotes adequate bone regeneration. Really, all vitamins and minerals are important in one way or another! Calcium and Vitamin D are particularly important, but researchers have also suggested that consuming a diet that’s not high in sodium is also important for bone health.
- Maintain or start regular load bearing activity. The idea of exercising AND taking care of a baby might be intimidating, but it’s so important in the long run!
- You may need to take extra precautions while lactating if you are predisposed to bone loss. Talk to your doctor. You may need to avoid repetitive, jarring activities like running and plyometrics, as well as high-risk activities like heavy Olympic Lifting and contact sports. Work with a certified coach or physical therapist to find activities that are appropriate for your condition.
- Clapp, J. F. Exercising Through Your Pregnancy. Addicus Books (2002).
- Drinkwater, B. L. & Chestnut, C. H. (2001). Bone density changes during pregnancy and lactation in active women: a longitudinal study. Bone and Mineral, 14 (2) 153-160.
- Kalkwarf, H. J. & Specker, B. L. (1995). Bone mineral loss during lactation and recovery after weaning. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 86(1) , 26-32.
- National Institutes of Health Online (Accessed 5/8/2015). Bone Health for Life.