The care that we give our post pregnancy body is just as important as the care which we provide for ourselves during the 9 months. During the 9 months of pregnancy our abdominal region stretches to make way for the growing foetus. Once a woman gives birth the organs, ligaments, muscles etc remain in those locations. Our body is not like a lacky band whereby we stretch it, let go and it goes back to the original form.
There are a few things that we can do to assist our post baby belly heal and return the items back to where they were pre-pregnancy.
1) Coupled with moderate cardio, a postpartum workout should focus on building up the muscles of your torso (which took a beating when you were pregnant). Every new mum can benefit from core strengthening. “The rectus abdominal muscles are stretched during pregnancy in a way that makes it impossible to exercise them during that time." Some women also experience a separation of the abdominal wall muscles, which is called rectus abdominis diastasis. Exercises that target this condition can bring the muscles back together again and a woman's physio is a great port of call to get the low down.
2) A postpartum belly band, wrap or our supportive leggings band (folded) is sometimes recommended, since they can help your C-section incision heal. But you may have seen women with vaginal deliveries touting the benefits of these products as well.
While postpartum belly wraps won’t actually cause weight loss, they may provide some benefits. They help tighten your stomach after pregnancy, improve circulation, reduce swelling through compression, and support the abdomen and lower back. What’s more, these postpartum belly bands may be especially helpful for those with diastasis recti.
Ask your doctor or woman's physio if you want to use a belly band and remember, you still need a healthy balanced eating and exercise plan to help your body heal...
Comfort and support are the most important features when it comes to maternity clothing and leggings are no different. All of our pregnancy leggings have been specially designed to allow for the growth of the bump and belly while providing absolute support and comfort. Featuring a high waistband that can be worn during pregnancy, or folded down for extra support postpartum
Many woman experience different disorders while they are pregnant, but some of the symptoms are the same such as pelvic pain, swelling, stiff hips and the added strain on the lower back. Therefore finding the right maternity leggings to help relieve and minimise these types of symptoms is essential for comfort during and after pregnancy. Our specially designed maternity leggings have been constructed to support you in all the right places. By keeping the weight off your pelvis and reducing the pressure on your muscles and ligaments around the bottom half of your body that is growing so much!
So what do they do?
- Light compression to the legs, hips and if they are over the bump; the belly and lower back as well.
- Support under the belly to take some weight off your hips and pelvis by providing a layer of support, they can help to lift up and alleviate the pressure on the pelvis.
- Help to assist in keeping your weight in the right spots to put your body back into natural alignment.
You can wear them under the bump in early pregnancy, then over the bump later in pregnancy. MUMMACTIV pregnancy and postpartum leggings can be worn under or over because:
- Over-the-bump leggings have a light compression panel above the waistline that stretches and pulls up over the bump.
- Under-the-bump leggings have a vee at the front of the waistline so the bump can sit in the middle.
With over the bump leggings when the compression panel is folded over (doubling the layer) and you wear it under the belly they give you even more bump support so the weight of your organs and bump isn't sitting on top of your hips as much.
They are essentially a belly band attached to pants. Many woman buy a belly band during pregnancy or for postpartum. Whereas, maternity leggings already have the belly band attached as a panel above the waist. Because the band is longit can be folded over during pregnancy to really provide support like a belly band, then after-baby, fold it down to help push your tummy in and support it.
Had or having a C-section?
When maternity leggings are for you...The compression panel scoops low at the front to provide the ultimate in comfort for any c-section scars. After a c section you don’t want to wear any clothing with seams that sit on the scar simply because they will irritate you. We've had customers regularly commenting that our leggings are the only pants they could wear post-baby after a c-section because of the way the seam cuts down and doesn't aggravate or irritate the scar.
“Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different; enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes (which it will); being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way (which it won’t).”
– James Baraz
"When we stay in the present, we make wiser choices and take things less personally."
- Saki Santorelli
“There could not be a better time to learn mindfulness than during pregnancy and early motherhood. For one thing, this is a time when most people have a strong motivation to become the best person they can be in a relatively short period of time. When you realize the full enormity of the responsibility you have taken on by becoming a mom, the primary source of care for another whole human being, not to mention one that you love more than you thought you could ever love, there is a really high level of motivation to try your best to get yourself into the best mental and emotional shape possible. I've talked to so many pregnant women who have for the first time in their lives encountered within themselves a deep and very sweet drive to learn new ways of being-quick! They don't want to pass on negative patterns to their child, and want to do everything possible to transmit a healthy foundation for the rest of their child's life.
Also, this is a great time to learn mindfulness because you are already open and somewhat vulnerable. The downside of this can be feeling off-balance or a little exposed, needing more help from others than usual and being at the mercy of your body's functions and your baby's needs. The upside is that this state of being provides a sort of malleability-some of your defenses are down, you may be feeling more sensitive than usual, and this is a great time to learn new skills! It makes you open-minded in a way that perhaps you are not when you've got everything under control. Since mindfulness has a lot to do with being in touch with the sensations in your body, and being aware, new moms are in a prime state to learn it! In fact, pregnancy and early motherhood, nursing and sleep disturbance, weight gain and weight loss-these all in some way force you to be in your body. For those of us who live most of our lives above our necks, this can actually be a great blessing.
Let me tell you a bit more about how mindfulness transformed my experience of motherhood!
Several years ago, as I struggled with postpartum depression and anxiety, I began to read about mindfulness.
Of course! I thought, I just need to be more mindful! Thank goodness I read this book!
And then I tried to be mindful.
Without any of the meditating….
I didn’t want to waste my precious time sitting on a cushion doing nothing! I mean, I had all this parenting I had to do!
But I realized that mindfulness didn’t work if I just read about it and liked the idea of it.
Once I started meditating...
... my life started to change.
I discovered a peace and stillness at the core of my busy life.
I smiled more. I laughed more.
I found a new way of being and doing and mothering.
I realized I could respond much more skillfully to my children ~ even when they were driving me crazy!
I learned to be kind and compassionate to myself.
I knew that mindfulness had transformed me as a mother.
I knew I should start teaching this to others.” By Cassandra Vieten
Over the coming weeks we will share ways to practise mindfulness no matter what stage of motherhood you are at. (Pregnant, Breastfeeding, Postpartum, menopausal- we all deserve a bit of time out...) These practises should be short and not impact upon your day and be an extra chore to do...
DR or better known as Diastasis Recti is quite common amongst Pregnant/Postpartum Mums and without the knowledge or bing assessed many don’t even know they have it. Some woman wonder why years after childbirth they still have the pouch even though they have done what they can through eating right and exercise.
Taryn Watson from FITRIGHT wrote a great blog last year on it. Recently we also attended an information session from @fit_triplet_mum
Here is some of Taryn‘s post:
Abdominal Muscle Separation During and After Pregnancy
It will never cease to amaze that a little human being can grow to full development for nine months in a woman’s belly. One of the inevitable consequences of this, however, is that there has to be a lot of shifting and stretching of the surrounding organs and tissues to allow this to happen!
The “six pack” muscle, or Rectus Abdominis muscle, is actually two muscle bellies with a line of connective tissue down the middle. From about 18 weeks of pregnancy, when the baby starts taking up more space above the pelvis, the midline tissue has to start stretching, and the six pack muscles move apart from each other.
This separation is called ‘Diastasis Recti’, or DR, and is helped by the fact that pregnant women have a hormone in their body called Relaxin, which allows connective tissue to be stretchier.
MYTH TO BUST – The abdominal muscles do not ‘tear’ or ‘split’, but the connective tissue between them does need to stretch and this is a very normal consequence of pregnancy.
In pregnancy, after the muscles have begun to stretch, it is highly recommended to minimize use of the six pack muscle. This means after approximately 16-20 weeks of pregnancy, avoid anything that causes ‘doming’ or triangling of the abdominal wall during exercise or daily activities. This may include:
- Russian Twists
- Pull ups/chin ups/Muscle ups
- Getting up from the bed/bath/couch
Daily movements can usually be modified to avoid doming, by rolling completely onto your side to get up from a reclined position.
Breastfeeding and Exercise-
What Helped Third time Around…
It is some belief that exercise effects milk supply and quality but according to the Australian Breastfeeding Association this is not true:
“Some research has looked at the level of lactic acid (a by-product of high intensity exercise) in mothers’ breastmilk after exercise. While lactic acid can increase in breastmilk following maximal exercise (exercising to the extreme of exercise intensity), mild or moderate exercise does not cause lactic acid to increase in breastmilk and does not affect a baby taking the milk. Since most mothers only wish to exercise to a moderate intensity to lose weight, and improve/maintain fitness and general wellbeing, most would say that maximal exercise is not relevant anyway. Regardless, there is no evidence to suggest that breastmilk with increased lactic acid levels harms a baby in any way.
Moderate exercise does not affect:
· breastmilk supply
· important immune factors in breastmilk (SIgA, lactoferrin, and lysozyme)
· major minerals in breastmilk (calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, potassium and sodium)
· major nutrients in breastmilk (fat, protein, lactose) or energy density.”
Whilst breastfeeding my first and second I did struggle to breastfeed and felt that I didn't have enough as the baby was crying (a lot) and always wanting to feed leading to this belief. At the time I felt that it was my training that was interfering with the supply/quality. Upon researching this myth has now been dispelled.
The Bump (www.thebump.com) sums it up beautifully with the below 3 main points:
1. “Exercise won't hurt your milk supply. As long as you maintain a healthy diet, your milk supply should not be affected by exercise. Your body burns about 500 calories per day to produce the milk your baby needs. If you are exercising a lot, you have to make up for the extra calories expended.”
2. “It won't change the taste, either. Some old wives tales caution against too much exercise because it makes your milk sour so that babies won't want to feed. It turns out there may be some truth to that belief. Studies have shownthat lactic acid levels in breast milk are significantly elevated for up to 90 minutes after maximal exercise, which may adversely alter the flavour of the milk. The good news is that there is no such elevation in lactic acid levels after moderate activity. So as long as you keep your aerobic exercise in the 80% of maximal heart rate range, your baby won't notice a difference. Since you may sweat while working out, be sure to shower or at least wipe off your nipples or they may taste salty!”
3. “Your breast milk is still as nutritional as ever—even after a workout.Studies show that exclusively breastfed babies of moms who exercise regularly grow just as robustly as those whose moms are sedentary. Those bonus immune-boosters in breast milk don't seem to be altered with moderate exercise either. Another study showed that women who performed moderate aerobic exercise for 30 minutes three times per week had the same levels of the immune-boosting compounds in breast milk as those who didn't exercise, and, not surprisingly, those women exhibited higher levels of cardiovascular fitness.”
Third time around I have discovered the awesome products by Milk and Nourish. They now have 4 products in their range including pre-made cookies, lactation cookie mix, milk booster capsules and mummy milk powder. What makes their products so special is that they contain “galactagogues” which are substances that promote lactation. The brewer's yeast, wheat germ, flaxseed meal and whole oats in lactation products are what specifically help with a lactating mother's milk supply. For those health conscious Mums amongst us, or Mums who try to hit macros the capsules are the way to go as they are gluten free, vegan friendly and contain little calories. They may seem small but they are jammed packed full of lactogenic ingredients, all enclosed in a vegetable gum capsule, to take anywhere anytime making it easy for the Mum on the GO. Adding these to the morning Vitamin taking regime is a no brainer and I was sceptical at first but after giving them a try they really do help the flow to flood. I certainly know now when I don’t take them.
Another key factor in keeping on top of a good supply has been the conscious effort to drink more water. There is no evidence to state there drinking a lot of water will increase the supply the problem is that when you are a new mum, you often forget to take care of yourself while you are so immersed in taking care of the baby. I try to drink a glass of water whenever sitting down to nurse or straight after. I also endeavour to drink a glass of water before and immediately after exercising or throughout the session.
The last but not least point is wearing a supportive nursing crop due to your trusty pre-pregnancy sports bras not cutting the mustard anymore. Your boobs are probably bigger, not to mention more sensitive. Easy access for your baby is now also a must—something that most traditional sports bras don’t build into their designs.