A bit of effort while pregnant can help you get back into shape after birth.
Pregnant but already wondering how your pre-baby body will ever return? A bit of effort during pregnancy can prepare your body for the changes ahead and help you get back into shape after birth.
Stretch marks are a form of scarring on the lower layer of the skin, which can get torn as your skin stretches during pregnancy.
Genes and hormones influence whether you get stretch marks but regular moisturising gives you the best chance of avoiding them. Also eat sunflower seeds for zinc, silica and vitamin E to reinforce your skin’s collagen.
“Pregnancy stretches your skin, so you must keep it as supple as possible,” says anti-ageing expert Dr Daniel Sister.
Sian Sutherland, co-founder of pregnancy skincare company Mama Mio, agrees and advocates products containing the essential fatty acids (EFAs) omega 3, 6 and 9, which are vital for skin health. “If your diet isn’t rich in EFAs from foods such as oily fish, your levels can drop during pregnancy, as you’re sharing nutrients with your baby,” says Sian.
Your pregnancy cleavage can come at a price, as the reduction in volume (which, sadly, nearly always happens) can leave your boobs looking saggy.
Regular moisturising can help prevent sagging but for extra boob-boosting potential, it’s suggested using products that contain CoQ10 helps. CoQ10 is a powerful antioxidant helps prevent collagen degradation, and collagen is the ‘net’ that holds skin up and keeps it firm.
After you’ve had a baby, things don’t go back to how they were, but the stronger your pelvic floor muscles are before birth, the better the chances of recovery.
Rosemary Lillie, physiotherapist and director of the West Wimbledon Physiotherapy Clinic
Your pelvic floor muscles are the ones you’d use to stop your pee mid flow (but don’t actually do this, it’s bad for your bladder). While helping to hold everything in place (including your growing baby), your pelvic floor muscles are also under increased strain thanks to the hormone relaxin, which softens your ligaments and muscles ready for birth.
Worrying that you’re going to lose control of your bladder and wet yourself if you laugh is no joke – incontinence isn’t much fun!
Try small pelvic floor exercises every day in the run up to the birth. They’re good for anyone to try so they won’t do you any harm even early on in pregnancy. If you are unsure you are getting them right, as your midwife for guidance.
“The best item I bought was a night-time maternity bra. It gave me lots of support and made me feel much more comfortable in bed. Two pregnancies later, I’ve no stretch marks and escaped droopy boobs!”
Wendy, 35, mum to Lila, 3, and Danny, 1
“I used Avent Moisturising Light Oil, which smelt lovely. Looking after my skin helped get it ready to stretch.”
Mia, 29, mum to Sian, 9, Will, 2
“Since Ethan was born I’ve been using a pelvic floor exerciser every day – it’s made a big difference.”
Nina Harris, mum to Megan, 10, Mia, 5 and Ethan, 8 months
Those pelvic floor exercises are so important. Be sure to not only squeeze the muscles as if to stop the flow of urine or the passing of gas, but it is a must that you elevate your pelvic floor muscles up into your pelvic outlet as if there is a string attached from your belly button down to your pelvic floor and you are attempting to pull it up into your pelvic outlet. This effort in combination with neutral spine posture and learning exercises to help strengthen the other muscles of your abdomen and pelvis that assist your pelvic floor muscles to a stronger contraction and you are on your road to recovery! Guidance from your local women's health physical therapist and/or looking for physical therapist guided programs on line from those of us that have been there, is a great first step - Tasha Mulligan MPT, ATC, CSCS
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