As a mother myself, I know how wonderful of an experience it is to have a child. I also know the frustration one feels when looking into the mirror and not seeing the body you once had. For mothers of multiples this experience of joy and frustration is multiplied for obvious reasons.
I frequently see mothers of singles, twins and triplets come into my office frustrated with their post child birth bodies. Even if you are considering surgery to regain your pre-pregnancy body back, there are things you can do to help the process. Looking good and feeling good is really about maintaining a healthy lifestyle. There are simple things women can do to maintain as much of their ideal body as possible before, during and after a pregnancy.
This 2 part article is to help women know the facts about their bodies, offer tips to getting the body they want, and educate women on their options for body sculpting and the effects it will have on them. Part I is all about working towards the body you want, without the help of surgery.
First, let’s face the facts about your body after pregnancy.
You ARE Beautiful
It doesn’t matter how much extra weight, skin, stretch marks or any other areas of annoyance you have, you must know that you are beautiful. It doesn’t matter what the media portrays, how your friends and family look or what results come out of my office – You Are Beautiful. Everyone has negative feelings about certain areas of their body and that is okay. There are natural and surgical ways to help with these trouble spots.
Overweight Reality Check
Most likely poor habits such as overeating and lack of exercise contribute to your weight gain before pregnancy. You will need to work on these habits in order to get –and keep – the results you are looking for, even if you opt for surgery. If you are going to spend thousands of dollars on being surgically altered, those results will not last if you do not change the habits that put you there in the first place.
Stretch marks are the result of your skin being stretched beyond its elasticity level. Once you have them, no product or exercise will help you lose them. Your stretch marks may fade over time but they will never completely go away. The only way to remove stretch marks is to have them removed surgically.
Abdomen Muscles Will Never Be The Same Again
The flat tummy and outlined abdomen that you worked so hard to have pre-baby will not be the same. Not saying you can’t have a flat tummy again; it just won’t have the same definition it used to. Your abdomen muscles are stretched during the 9 months of pregnancy. After the child(ren) is born, the muscles will start to un-stretch themselves, however they usually won’t return to their original position or be as tight. The more stretched out they get during pregnancy, the more stretched out they will stay after you deliver. For most, having twins or triplets, will result in more stretch marks and loose abdominal muscles. The only way to have the same tone in your abdominal muscles is through surgery.
I know some of you reading this may not be thrilled with what I just shared with you. Not everything can be fixed with diet and exercise and not everything can be fixed with surgery. However, there are healthy things to do before, during, and after your pregnancy that will not only help you get the body you want but also help you maintain a much healthier lifestyle.
It is never too late to change your eating habits. There are several guides online and at the library that can help you figure out the right balance of food for your body type. There are even great programs that will guide you through the process. I highly recommend talking with a certified nutritionist – especially when pregnant or trying to get pregnant – about how many calories, proteins, carbs, and fats you should be eating each day.
Nutritional Myth: Eating for 2… or more
It is true that when you are carrying a child, you need to increase your caloric and nutritional intake. However, this does not mean you can eat anything you want. So many times women have the extra cupcake or pig out on junk food and use pregnancy as an excuse. Keep this in mind; if the food you are putting in your system is high in sugar and does not provide any nutrition value to you other than increasing the size of your fat cells, what nutritional value are you giving your unborn child?
The first step to working on your nutrition is knowing where you are at now. For one week, keep a journal of what you are eating AND how you are feeling. Any nutritionist, doctor, or program will ask you to do this. Once you have completed one week, talk with a nutritionist (many gyms offer one free consultation with their staff nutritionist) to see what you can do to find a nutrition plan that works best for you.
A major reason for the obesity problem in America is our lack of daily physical activity. Many Americans spend most of their day sitting at a desk, in a car, or on the couch. Recognizing that not everyone enjoys or has the money to go to the gym, have a personal trainer or use workout videos at home, there are small things you can do during your day to increase you daily activity.
Here is your mission if you chose to accept it!
The health community has given to Americans a 10,000 steps challenge. Buy a simple pedometer and see how many steps you take in a day. Sadly the average American does 2000 – 3000 steps per day when the minimum amount of activity every human needs to maintain healthy muscle and body function is around 7000 steps.
Try taking a walk during lunch, take the kids for a bike ride, or walk around the park while the kids play on the jungle gym. If you are already walking, try some light running. When patients come into my office and are interested in losing weight, I start them on a run/walk program. The key to success is having attainable goals and starting slow. For instance, the first week, I have them exercise 20 minutes three times a week. They do a brisk 5 minute warm up walk and then alternate 5 minutes of walking with 5 minutes of jogging for a total of 20 minutes. Depending on their goal, we add more intensity or time each week.
True or False: I can’t work out because I am pregnant
FALSE. You can stay active while you are pregnant, unless directed by your doctor to stay on bed rest. However, you should not increase the amount or intensity of your activity. Working out, running and participating in yoga are great ways to strengthen your muscles that you use during child birth. Many women rave about how Pilates helps strengthen the groin muscles which are rarely used until child birth.
Check back on May 21st for PART II: When to consider surgery.
For more information about Dr. Lacy Le go to LacyLeMD.com or The BeautifulMom.com