From hair loss to soreness down there, we help you handle 7 common new-mom complaints. Plus our amazing fat-blasting ab workout.
YOU’VE FINALIZED EVERY DETAIL OF YOUR BIRTHING PLAN, from choosing which CDs will help you relax to deciding whether you want an epidural to ease your pain. But have you thought about how you’ll cope after your baby is born? “New moms often are surprised by how long it takes to heal and feel like themselves again,” says Judy Chang, M.D., an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. “I know I was.” But knowledge is power: Knowing what to expect when you’re no longer pregnant and how to rev up your recovery will help you through this vulnerable__but mercifully temporary !–time. And once you’re feeling more like your old self, it may be time to look like her too. That’s where our gentle, progressive workout to strengthen and flatten your abdominal muscles comes in. Here’s our guide to handling some of the most common postpartum body shocks, and, as a bonus, our supper effective ab routine to begin when you’re ready.
By Jacqueline Stenson Workout by Ten Hanson Photography by Ted & Debbie
1) VAGINAL SORENESS
Why it happens During delivery, the birth canal stretches, then stretches some more. As the baby emerges, your peri-neumthe area between the vagina and the anusmay rear or be cut by the doctor (an episiotomy) to facilitate delivery.
Feel-better advice Apply ice packs to reduce inflammation and swelling, says Allay Murtha, M.D., an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Duke University Hospital in Durham, N.C. Take a site bath (sit in a tub filled with a fesv inches of warm water) a few times a day, use refrigerated Tucks pads, and try anesthetic sprays containing a numbing agent such as benzocaine (often offered at the hospital and available at drugstores too). Taking pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen also can ease discomfort. While urinating, squirt your perineum with warm water to lessen stinging. When sitting, using a “donut”– a round cushion with a hole in the middlecan take pressure off this sensitive area.
2) VAGINAL BLEEDING
Why it happens The uterine lining thickens enormously during pregnancy. After delivery, the lining is shed along with a bloody discharge, together known as lochia.
Feel-better advice Bleeding for several days to a few weeks is normal, explains Murtha, but it should stop by your six-week checkup. Wear pads, since tampons raise the risk of infection at this time Consult your doctor if you are soaking a pad or more an hour; this may be a sign of postpartum hemorrhage. Also seek medical attention if the bleeding slows down a few weeks after delivery and then suddenly increases.
What is a diastasis?
Diastasis is a separation of the abdominal muscles that some-times occurs during or after pregnancy. To check for it, lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Place your fingers I to 2 inches above or below your belly button. Lift just your head off the floor, keeping your ab muscles relaxed, and if you feel a vertical separation the width of three fingers or more, that’s a diastasis. If you feel a large separation, don’t be alarmed. Just remember to draw your navel in toward your spine when doing any lifting or ab exercises; this will protect your lower back. Also, avoid any large listing movements, which can exacerbate the condition, until the separation has diminished.
0 percenfof new moms eitperience- :a .y.1 . early days “childbirth. “They feel like PMS symptomsm irritability, crying,” says Victoria Hendrick, M.D., an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles, Medical Center. This is norrnaL If symptoms are severe and persist for more than a couple of weeks, u may have postpartum depression, a more serious condition that s12 percent to 14 percent of new mothers. Red flags include loss of (west in daily activities, difficulty concentrating, inability to sleep, eating too little or too much, feeling worthless, and having little interest in the baby. Talk with your doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms. Treatments including antidepressant medication, psychotherapy and support groups can help Immensely.
3) CESAREAN-SECTION PAIN
Why it happens A C-section is major surgery that involves cutting through several layers of tissue in the abdomen and spreading the abdominal muscles apart.
Feel-better advice Take your prescribed pain medicine as directed at the first sign of discomfort it’s safe, even if you’re nursing. “It is so much easier to prevent pain than it is as catch up with it,” explains Chang. Minimizing discomfort also will encourage moving about, which can reduce your milk for developing blood clots and relieve post-surgery gas pains.
To get out of bed during the first couple of weeks:Place your legs over rile edge, allowing gravity to help out:wait a few seconds, then use your arms to push yourself up.(You’ll become familiar with this technique in your third trimister. ) While the incision heals, keep it clean and dry, and report bleeding, swelling or unusual redness to your doctor.
Why it happens The stress of pregnancy and pushing during delivery can weaken the pelvic floor, allowing urine to “leak”.
Feel-better advice Realize that incontinence is common. but also that it often resolves within six months to a year. If you leak a lot of urine, wear a pad. Avoid caffeine, and to keep your bladder from getting too full, head to the bathroom as soon as you feel the urge to go.
Kegel exercises can help prevent incontinence by strengthening the pelvic floor, notes certified Pilates instructor Jennifer Gianni, creator of the Fusion Pilaies Post-Pregnancy & C-section Recoray DVD (fusionpilates.com). Contract the muscles around the vagina as if you’re stopping the flow of urine; hold for 10 seconds, breathing normally, then slowly release. Aim to do 10 to 20 Kegels a few times a day. If incontinence lasts several months, consult your doctor.
WHAT IT IS,WHAT IS ISN’T
Up to 80 percent of new moms experience “baby blues” in he early days after childbirth. “They feel like PMS symptoms–moodiness,irritability,crying,” says Victoria Hendrick,M.D., an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of California,Los Angeles, Medical Center,This is normal. If symptoms are severe and persist for more than a couple of weeks, you may have postpartum depression, a more serious condition that affects 12 percent to l4 percent of new mothers. Red flags includes the loss of interest in daily activities,difficulty concetration,inability to sleep,eating too little or too much ,feeling worthless, and having interest in the baby, Talk to your doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms,Treatments including antidepressant medication,psychotherapy and support group can help immidiately.
Why it happens C-section surgery can temporarily slow the bowels, as can the use of narcotic pain relievers such as Vicodin. Women who’ve had vaginal deliveries may become constipated if they hold hack during bowel movements out of fear of pain.
Feel-better advice Eat a fiber-rich diet and drink eight 8- ounce glasses of water a day to keep bowel movements regular. You also can ask your OB-GYN to prescribe stool softeners.
6) HAIR LOSS
Why it happens When you’re pregnant, your body is in growth mode, and that includes your hair. But those thick tresses will start shedding by six to 16 weeks after childbirth as your hormone levels fluctuate, says Andrea Cambio, M.D., a New York City dermatologist and a spokeswoman for the American Academy of Dermatology.
Feel-better advice Rest assured that your hair won’t be clogging the shower drain forever: the shedding ends by six months after you give birth. In the meantime, adding layers or highlights can help your locks look fuller, Cambio says.
Why it happens During pregnancy. constipation and pressure from the uterus on the rectum can cause varicose veins here. So can pushing during delivery.
Feel-better advice Take a site or a tub bath to ease the itching and pain, advises Susan Harvey, M.D., an OB-GYN Swedish Medical Center in Seattle. Cold compresses soaked in witch hazel can help decrease swelling and discomfort, as can anti-inflammatory hemorrhoid creams. Try to avoid constipation, since straining also can lead to hemorrhoids.
Exercise from the inside out with these popular mind/ body workout programs. BY MARYANN HAMMERS
Years of sitting behind a desk, frequent travels, and long hours at the computer had taken their toll on Abbas Milani. The director of Iranian Studies at Stanford University suffered from chronic backaches, and nothing he tried from cortisone to chiropractic offered relief. When the pain became so severe that the 57-year-old had to frequently lie down to get through the day, he heeded a friend’s recommendation to contact Stanford health educator and Pilates and yoga trainer Shirley Archer.
With its focus on deep breathing and controlled movements, Pilates is generally not the province of hard -driven, high-powered, time-pressed types. But those are exactly the people who can most benefit. “Someone who is bombarded daily newts to create time and space for inner quiet,” says Archer. But Milani was interested in results, not zen like blather. So Archer explained how [‘Hates also strengthens back muscles and boosts flexibility. He gave it a go, and a year later his pain has all but disappeared. But to his amazement,the greatest change is his overall disposition.Gone is the lethargy. My mend has improved. I have a feeling of vitality he marvels.
Milani is among millions of converts turning to mind/body exercises to become physically energized. spiritually balanced, and mentally focused. Pilates participation ls estimated at 10.5 million in the United States — a 500 percent increase over the past tons years, with the number linen Moms sing 20 percent in IC e past year More 150016 million people In the United Stains practice yogi and tai el, shows similar gains.
These exercises teach principles such as Yield and bestrong take the higher path.”Change can be smooth if you are grounded and Flexible:Move from your core.’
Says one expert, “These exercises teach principles such as ‘Yield and he strong.”Take the higher path.’ Change can be smooth if you are grounded and flexible.”Move from your core.”Transitions are a helpful part of our journey.”
‘Transitions are a helpful part of our loam.— says Carolyn Comae, who leads. tia chi workshops at Red Mountain Spa in SL George, Utah. “I taught fitness classes for 17 years and have never felt those empowering life lessons from traditional exercises.”
Here’s an introduction to the most popular mind/ body programs:
WHAT: Pilates uses systematic, precise, contolled movement, to target the body’s core— abs, back, and hips. “I call Pilates ‘the thinking. persons workout,'” says Lisa Johnson, owner of Studio Elle near Boston “You concentrate so hard on breathing. choreography, and form that you have to shut down that to-do list in Your brain.
WHY It whittles your middle and flattens your stomach better than crunches, and improves posture, flexibility agility while also building ,strength.
WHO Less spiritual and meditative than other mind/body exercises, Pilates appeals to Type-A perfectionists and pragmatsis
Johnson says.I rarely say to my client .’Find your Zen But I frequently say, ‘Find your abs!”
HOT SPOTS: Core Conditioning in los Angeles is a celeb hangout (818-907-00008: Body Endeavors is one of Chicago’s original studios (312-702-0028) .the spa at Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn offers a “Pilates for Golfers” Class, (877-289-7354).
WHAT: Incorporating stretches, postures, meditaion. and breathing, yoga styles range from sivanada a gentle practice using classic poses, to (power yoga,). serious workout with constant movement.
WHY: it Improves flexibility, strength, and balance: promotes relaxation, reduces stress: awl helps control weight. “Yoga drops you into the Zen zone.” says Jonathan Fields. who left a law career to find Sonic Yoga in New York City. Rather than leaving you drained, it leaves you brimming”
WHO Anyone. interested in overall wellness. “One of the myths is that you need to be flexible, athletic, or out there” Fields says,”but anyone can practice yoga.’
HOT SPOTS: Boundless yoga in Washington. D.C, caters to politicos (202-234-9642), Sting stretches with instructors from Manhattan, divamukti Yoga Center( 212-353-0214) Sonic Yoga in NYC’s Hell, Kitchen Is a favorite of theater set (212-397-6344), Yobe Studios at the Chesterfield Hotel In Miami, South Beach offers nontraditional classes from Kosher yoga to hip-hop (305-531-6266).
WHAT: An ancient Chinese martial art that includes graceful, flowing self.defense movements, it’s also known as “moving meditation” because participants are completely focused, yet relaxed. “Tai chi is physical in a nontreadmill way.” says Scott Cole, creator of the Discover Toi Chi DVD series. “Moving slowly and deliberately engages all muscles and gives rise to stability and balance.
WHY: It improves concentration, boosts circulation, limbers you up, reduces stress, and lowers blood pressure. Cole says doing tai chi can also enhance , ,our sex life.
WHO: Recovering Type As. “Business execs ran learn as much from tai chi principles as they can from the moves themselves,” Cole says. “For example, a stiff, rigid tree breaks under pressure, while a strong, resilient one survives by going with the flow.”
HOT SPOTS: William CC Chen’s martial arts studio in New York (St 2-675-2816): Terence Pang-Yen Dunn, who trained the L.A. Lakers, teaches in Santa Monica (310-8282018).
WHAT: Drawing from principles of each, combos blend strength training or cardio with mind/body exercises for example, kickboxing with tai chi.
WHY: By incorporating focused breathing, body awareness, and proper posture, your workout becomes more holistic, effective, efficient, and interesting without taking more time. “But you must work from a
WHO: Someone who wants to try something new or get multiple results from a single session.
HOT SPOTS: KungTh, a martial arts/yoga combo at Allure Pilates Spa in Beverly Hills (310-777.0201); spinning/ power yoga is a hit at ELT. in Bethesda (301-656-0885); Studio Elle, popular with Boston’s elite. offers QuadSpin Pilates, an intense calorierburning cardio WOrkOnt 1817- 975.010
Meditation may not get your heart pumping or your body sweat-ing, and it doesn’t burn many calories. But it belongs in your exercise arsenal.
“Meditation trains your mind just as Pilates or yoga trains the body,” says Shirley Archer, author of Pitotes Fusion: Weh-Being for Body, Mind, and Spirit. “It cultivates inner peace and serenity and improves our ability to approach life from a place of balance and calm.
“A slew of studies have documented mediation’s physiological benefits, including lower blood pressure, slower breath and heart rate, reduced stress, pain relief, and better immune function. Archer offers these tips for getting started:
Solid mind/body foundation. Otherwise, its just another aerobics class,” says Jennifer Gianni, who developed “Pilates Triple Threat,” a blend of yoga, dance, and weight training, at Embodyment Studio in Venice, California (310-581.3822).
1. Set aside a few minutes the same time every day for your “mental training session.”
2. Choose a quiet, interruption-free place.
3. Sit with good posture, hands on your thighs or clasped in your lap. Close your eyes and breathe naturally.
4. Begin with breathing exercises: Focus on your breath. Be aware of inhaling and exhaling and the pause between breaths. Feel the texture of the breath traveling through your body, in the nostrils, and into the lungs.
5. You can also meditate by staring at a candle. Focus on the flame, watching it move, grow, and flicker. Observe the colors. Notice the subtleties of the changing flame. 6. Stop when your mind wanders. Gradually build up to longer periods of time. M.H.
With these new products stay fit and eat right during your pregnancy and then head outdoors with your new baby.
PILATES FOR PREGNANCY DVD
If you can’t get to a prenatal Pilates or yoga class, try Jennifer Gianni’s Fusion Pilates For Pregnancy DVD. The one-hour workout combining Pilates and yoga consists of 25 exercises designed to improve coordination and stability and strengthen the pelvis to prepare for labor. It shows how to perform the moves safely during all trimesters, including modifications for the third trimester. $21.95, fusionpilates.com
Why you’ll love it: Designed by pre and postnatal exercise expert Jennifer Gianni, it’s packed with information on recovering from either a C-section or a vaginal birth.
Once you’re able to resume regular exercise (usually after your six-week checkup), consider a mom-and-baby workout.
* Mommy Baby Body Builders
LILY PRODUCTIONS. $18; LILYPRO.COM
The scoop: This full-body strengthening program allows you to incorporate your baby into each exercise. Moves such as baby lifts, the airplane and the Superman make working out feel more like playtime for you and your baby.
Why you’ll love it:The exercises are creative and the outdoor setting serene. Physical therapist Lyda Liu and speech-language pathologist Lindy Shapiro teach fun ways to interact with your baby to boost her motor and communication skills.
* Back in Shape With Baby
EXERCISE WITH MOMMY $20; EXERCISEWITHMOMMY.COM
The scoop: Ten-, 15-, and 20-minute stretching and strengthening workouts are done alone or with your baby.
Why you’ll love it: Miniworkouts make it easy to fit exercise into your schedule no matter how busy you are. Instructor Amy Burton, an ACE-certified personal trainer, suggests clever tricks you can do to entertain your baby. like clapping your hands while doing cardio side-taps.
When you’re ready to pick up the pace and work your muscles, try a stroller workout.
* Sara Holliday’s Stroller Workout for Moms HOLLIDAY ENTERPRISES. $25; FITBYSARA.COM
The scoop: This audio CD and DVD set offers a challenging 60-minute workout with intervals of power walking and kickboxing. as well as core work and stretching.
Why you’ll love it: You can use it both indoors and out. Instructor Sara Holliday suggests rainy-day modifications such as jogging in place and using your sofa instead of a park bench for dips. Helpful hint: Watch the DVD before going outside.
BEE HOME VIDEO. $20: STROLLERTIME.COM
The scoop: The audio CD guides you through an outdoor power walk, while the DVD demonstrates an indoor toning program.
Why you’ll love it: Perfect for all fitness levels, the audio CD lets you choose either a beginner or an advanced workout. During the video portion, cartoons float across the screen to engage your baby. Bonus material offers safe ways to incorporate your baby into the toning moves.
Teri Hanson is Fit Pregnancy’s fitness editor and the mother of one.
GREAT NEWS We’re debuting our very new postpartum fitness DVD! Strengthen,yone,and lose the baby weight safely and effectively.to learn more, see “Shape Up with Fit Pregnancy“.
Shape up with Fit Pregnancy! Our new postpartum-fitness DVD,
Fit Pregnancy: Get Your Body Back After Baby, is an innovative program to help you regain your prepregnimcv shape. Led by pre- and postpartum exercise specialist Jennifer Gianni,” the DVD starts with exercises you can do as early as the day after giving birth. After six weeks, prepare to pump up the intensityand melt away stubborn poundswith challenging abdominal exercises, full-body toning and strengthening, and high-energy cardio. Available at fitpregnancy.com.–MM
1) Moon walking: Whittles your waist
I first met Pilates instructor Jennifer Gianni at her Venice, California Pilates studio, Embodyment, when she was releasing her newest DVD “Fusion Pilates, Triple Threat.” Known for working with lean and lanky beauties like Hilary Swank and Maria Bellow, Jennifer Gianni Pilates techniques are meant to strengthen as well as lengthen. Here are a few of her favorite moves, perfect for beginning and intermediate Pilates students:
2) Jennifer loves this exercise because of the challenge all keeping both arms and legs long and extended while keeping the torso’s form. Starting on your back, exhale and extend arms and legs to the ceiling. (See photo #1.) Rotate as you breathe in. On the next inhale, scissor the arms and legs, bringing one arm to the outside of the opposite leg. (See photo #2.) Beginners should do one set of 6-8 reps. Intermediates can build to two sets of 6-8 reps.
3) Phoenix in flight: Works on posture …and your booty!
Jennifer likes this exercise because it really opens the front of the chest and we’re all so hunched most of the time. Best of all, it works the booty!
Starting on your belly with your forehead resting on the floor or towel, bring your arms to your sides (photo #3). Keep the top of the feet on the floor parallel and hip distance apart. inhale to prepare. Exhale and bring the eyes, heart and feet up, keeping the back of the neck long. Melt the front ribs into the back ribs and reach long through the fingertips and toes. On the next exhale, turn your toes out and connect the heels, rotating the arms to the front in a high “V” (see photo #4) and then back to the sides. Stay up if possible, and do 3-4 sets. »
You’ll feel your core working on this one. Jennifer loves it because it feels so good to stretch your abs and upper back.
Starting on all fours, exhale and press into your hands, lifting your hips up to the ceiling and back into down dog pose (photo #5). The weight should be away from your arms and shoulders it should be in your legs. Keep your hips up and walk your hands out a little bit more to feel your bad( lengthen. On the next exhale, hinge forward into plank pose. Pull the heart and heels away from each other. Push up and out of the shoulders, making. sure that the shoulder blades are apart. On the next exhale, keeping ‘he arms straight and the toes tucked under, nick the hips down into the floor. Lift your heart to the ceiling, making sure to keep your shoulders away from the ears (see photo #6). On the next exhale,
8) One legged squat with diagonal arm reach :work almost everything!
HAVE TROUBLE WORKING OUT WHEN TRAVELING? Try a complete personal fitness studio that travels with you. The travel TRAINER fits into a standard 22″ carry-on bag and is a great way for travelers (business and leisure) to maintain an active lifestyle while they’re on the road. It Includes a stability ball with a rapid air pump. a thick yoga/Pilates/multi-purpose mat, a sturdy set of resistance bands and CD with more than 50 beginning to Intermediate exercises. And it all fits in a lightweight mesh shoulder bag!
Jennifer likes this one because of the balance challenges that diagonal exercises have, and because its a great hip strengthener.
Inhale and lift one leg up. Then pull ;up tall on the standing leg. Reach the opposite arm high above the head. (See photo #7.) Exhale and squat (still one-legged), reaching the opposite hand to the pinky toe of the foot that’s on the floor. (See photo #8.) Do 4-6 reps on the same side, then switch.
For more information on Jennifer Gianni’s Fusion Pilates DVD or Embodyment. Studio, go to www.embodymentstudio.com or contact Embodyment Studio, 720 Hampton Drive, Venice, California 90291; (310) 581-3822.
About the author: Fashion designer and lifestyle expert Mania Matsumoto writes several national and interna-tionalfashion/beaittylbody image columns as well as a daily blog at www.trustyourstyle.com. Mary fat in frequently interviewcd by publications such as U.S. News 62 World Reports, USA Today. Glamour, and more. Her designs have been worn by the likes of Rabin Weigh/ Rerm,Joan Rivers and Maly Hart and have appeared oil Oprah, Extra, The Oscars and Talk Soap.
HAVE TROUBLE WORKING OUT WHEN TRAVELING?
Try o complete personal fitness studio that travels with you The travelTRAINER fils Into a standard 22″ carry-on bag and Is a great way for travelers (business and leisure) to maintain an active lifestyle while they’re on the road. It includes a stability ball with a rapid air pump, a thick yoga/Pilatesimulti.purpose mat, a sturdy set of resistance bands and CD with more than 50 beginning to Intermediate exercises. And it all fits in a lightweight mesh shoulder bag!