This is for all the new moms and new moms-to-be out there. If you are not one, please pass this on to someone who is! I write this both from my PT experience and my own personal experience.
First, let’s talk about pre-pregnancy. If you are planning on having children in the next few years, I recommend starting a regular exercise routine that includes core strengthening. The better shape you are in before pregnancy, the easier it will be for you to lose your baby weight. I highly recommend pilates exercises to strengthen your core (even 2x/week can be beneficial). Start healthy eating habits now in order to keep your weight down. It will be much harder to lose excess weight once you have children.
During pregnancy, you may likely get back, pelvis, hip or sciatic pain because your ligaments are getting lax in order to prepare for childbirth. My recommendation is continuing but modifying your exercise routine that you hopefully started before pregnancy. Walking, swimming and prenatal yoga/pilates are ideal types of exercise during these 9-10 months. However, listen to your body and modify/limit the exercises that cause or aggravate any of your back or leg symptoms. Wearing a support belt may be helpful and is worth a try if you are having a lot of back pain (they are not very expensive). If you have a lot of pelvis pain and are diagnosed with sacroiliac joint (SI joint) dysfunction, an SI belt can be very beneficial. Stay active as much as possible and try not to overeat. If you gain 50 or more lbs., it will be more difficult to lose the extra baby weight. 25-35 lbs. is the recommended amount. (I gained 35-40 lbs. with both of mine and within 6-9 months lost it all).
During childbirth, I highly recommend Lamaze, walking as much as possible and getting onto hands-and-knees during contractions. Have someone push deeply on your back during contractions if you are experiencing back labor. Having experienced both natural labor and labor with epidural, I personally preferred natural labor. I will leave you with a quote from my yoga video: “Squatting is the position of choice for childbirth around the world.” That’s just one more reason to learn how to squat (see yesterday’s post)!