Pre-Natal & Post Natal Fitness

Fitness expert Julie DelaBarre helps keeps you in shape…before, during and after your baby arrives. 

While some might thing it’s not a good time to work out because you’re pregnant or have just given birth, but there couldn’t be a better time to begin. By maintaining a regular workout schedule, you will not only feel better (which helps battle those awful baby blues), you can actually sculpt the body you’ve always dreamed of.

Pre-natal workouts help prevent gestational diabetes, which can develop during pregnancy.  When you are engaged in a pre-natal workout program, you can also stave off stress, and build the much-needed stamina for labor and delivery.  The question is why wouldn’t you work out during your pregnancy?

Post-natal workouts are vital to getting back your PMS.  Not the PMS you might be thinking about, but your positive mental state!  Feeling good after giving birth can often be a battle for new moms.  Why is it a battle?  More often than not, you are suffering from lack of sleep and battling “Mommy Brain.”  What is Mommy Brain?  Cortisol, the same hormone that comes into play during childbirth, kicks in whenever we’re stressed. With the drain of giving birth, challenges of raising kids you might already have, moms experience an overdose of cortisol.  This is a constant assault on the brain’s memory centers and thus, we get absentmindedness.  Not to worry, there are ways to get around this and I am here to help.

As a mother of two, I know all too well what it feels like after you’ve given birth…you’re too tired to work out. Basically, you feel too tired to do pretty much anything, but working out will actually help you feel and look your best!

Working out in preparation for giving birth is not about firming up, but more about loosing up. The exercises you choose during this time should simply get your heart pumping, stretching your muscles and help manage the weight gain while we’re pregnant. The bottom line is this; the better shape you’re in before giving birth, the easier time you are going to have during the intense stage of labor and delivery.  When it comes time to “lose the baby weight,” you will already be on your way because your metabolism is elevated because of your workout routine before giving birth.


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Ask The Expert

Fitness & Nutrition Expert Julie DelaBarre talks all things Real Mom Fitness

A million reasons, starting with the benefits for your health and the health of the baby! Moderate exercise during pregnancy may prevent gestational diabetes and support a healthy birth weight. It helps with dreaded pregnancy constipation. It may prevent injury and painful pre-natal conditions including sciatica (ouch!). Conditioning your body through pregnancy helps with the physical endurance of deliver day, not to mention recovery and getting your body back.

Exercise during pregnancy keeps the body strong and prevents injury as the weight of the baby puts stress on the lower back and hips.   Exercise helps with gut motility and increases transit time in the GI tract: code for helps you poop! Not to mention, exercise a stress reliever, as well as a time to connect with you baby. Prenatal yoga can be a very centering and nurturing practice.

Strength exercises for the back and hips are imperative during pregnancy to prepare for the growing belly. Starting at an appropriate level based on pre-pregnancy exercise routines, posterior chain ‘back & booty’ exercises are priority. Cardio can be done at an appropriate level in a stable environment; bicycle, elliptical, etc. where the chances of falling are reduced. And drink plenty of WATER!

Due to the increased progesterone and relaxin during pregnancy, any ballistic exercises should be avoided to prevent tearing of soft tissue. This would include any jumping or jarring movements, and potentially running. As the joints become more limber they also become more unstable. Running places 3x the body weight on the knee, hip, and ankle joint with each stride. As the body weight increases while joint stability decreases, the result is a recipe for injury. Not worth it.

Using machines to strengthen the back puts one in a safe training environment. Including a seated row and lat pull down would be beneficial to strengthen the back in counter to the decrease of abdominal stability as the baby grows. Standing body weight squats and glute bridges are a staple in my pre-natal programs as they are beneficial for strengthening the hips in preparation for the increased weight of the baby.

Always check in with your physician. Pregnancy is not a time to start a new, vigorous exercise program, and it is definitely not time to sit on the couch. Using a personal trainer or physical therapist is beneficial to gain knowledge and guidance.

Any sport that you have not practiced prior to becoming pregnant (experience means everything) or any exercise which could you at risk of falling or abdominal trauma.

There are prenatal yoga and pilates classes. These exercises are very core centered, which is okay through the first few months. As soon as you see the linea alba start to “pouch” out during abdominal work, you need to stop with any abdominal crunches and only practice core stability exercises. Lying flat on your back may be recommended to avoid after week 20.

Stop. Immediately. Sit down and drink water and/or juice. Your blood sugar may be low or you may be dehydrated. If it persists, see a physician immediately. If it passes, reflect on when you last ate and drank and what type of exercise you were engaging in. It may be a simple nutrition fix or modifying exercise. Listen to your body.

When the mother is maintaining a healthy body weight, so is the baby. Also, studies have suggested that exercises in the womb results in babies better able to self soothe. Perhaps the increased heart rate followed by a relaxing state of recovery.

Yes, you should be “pulling” your bellybutton in all the time. This engages the transverse abdominal muscles, which wrap around your waist like a corset and stabilize the core. In the first trimester, typically any abdominal work can be practiced. As the baby makes room and stretches out those abdominals, the “crunches” stop and functional core work continues.

Absolutely. If you’re conditioned going into the third trimester, you will come out in better shape. After clearance from the doctor, and a good sleep stretch from that kidlet, you will be in better strength and condition to start a moderate exercise program again. But, don’t rush your body. It is still susceptible to injury until those hormones balance out.

Yes. No matter how you deliver the baby, natural birth or caesarean, a conditioned body is better able to endure the stress of labor and recovery.

You can feel your pelvic floor contract when you “stop pee,” which is also known as the Kegel muscles. These muscles can also help heal the vagina after delivery. The pelvic floor muscles are arranged as a hammock attaching from the pelvic bone to the sits bones and the tailbone. They prevent incontinence and aid in bowel control. They support the weight of the fetus and aid in delivery. They work as core muscles to stabilize the spine.

Appropriate exercise, yes. If there is any Braxton Hicks, bleeding, shortness of breath or dizziness, stop and consult your doctor.

It was recommended to not let the heart rate rise above 140 BPM. However, this was based on cardiac patients in rehab and has since been lifted. Current recommendations are based on current level of fitness and exercise prior to pregnancy. RE: Fitbit: no! 10,000 steps is irrelevant with the goals you are trying to attain. Strength and joint stability are priority, while conditioning is for maintenance. Walking too much could be damaging to the joints during pregnancy. Not worth it.