Pregnancy and exercise -- let's get real
Celebrity new moms may not be realistic role models, but you can take a lesson from their post-baby playbooks
By Jennifer Tucker Johnson 10/26/2012
One of the most common questions I get asked is: “How do celebrity moms do it?”
Celebrity pregnancies are, of course, always big news. It seems, however, how celebrity moms look after giving birth is as big a story as the baby itself. When they look like they’ve never had a baby, they are celebrated and applauded, and this sets up unrealistic expectations for many new moms.
These unrealistic expectations just add to the confusion about pregnancy and exercise.
Women are barraged with information about what they can and cannot do during pregnancy and often look to their doctors, family and friends for guidance. Unfortunately, the advice given is often outdated, contradictory and incorrect.
The research, however, is very clear. Exercise during and after pregnancy is beneficial for both mom and baby.
Women who exercise during pregnancy have reduced risk of preeclampsia, gestational diabetes and preterm birth. They also tend to have fewer pregnancy-related discomforts, such as back pain and water retention, increased stamina and muscle control and a faster and less painful delivery.
New moms who exercise after delivery may also experience faster physical and emotional recovery, including a lower incidence of postpartum depression, improved abdominal muscle tone and an improved ability to lose weight. Their babies are more likely to be healthy and calm with improved neurological development.
These are impressive facts, and most celebrity moms (with help from their trainers) exercise regularly before, during and after pregnancy.
Celebrity mom-inspired do’s and don’ts for a healthy pregnancy:
Take care of your body before and during pregnancy
Exercise should be on your daily to-do list. Find activities you enjoy and that make you feel good, and don’t wait until after you’ve had the baby to get started. A common trend among women in Southern California is exercising too much because of a desire to look like celebrities and models. Exercising too much can stress your body to the point that it stops ovulating. Figure out what works for your body and what your version of healthy is and strive for that.
Eat a balanced, nutritious diet
Pregnancy is not the time to eat anything you want. Many women diet throughout their lives and then, when pregnant, feel free of diet regimens and deprivations and go to the other extreme. Celebrities are especially guilty of this, since there is so much pressure on them to stay thin when they’re not pregnant.
Instead, take a healthy approach to eating. Follow a balanced and nutritious diet and allow yourself to enjoy foods you love in moderation. Eat foods that make you feel good and give you energy.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Celebrity moms look beautiful, rested and calm because they have a lot of professional help. Nutritionists, cooks, trainers, nannies, housekeepers and personal assistants may not be realistic for most of us, but we can learn from this — having help makes life a lot easier. If you can’t pay for it, ask for it. It’s especially useful when you are adjusting physically and emotionally and when you may not be getting enough sleep.
Are there things your partner could take on? Can you budget for someone to clean your house? Can you schedule play dates or babysitting dates with other moms? Can you call on friends and relatives to help out?
No matter what type of birth a woman has, her muscles, joints and tissues will be challenged by the rapid changes that occur throughout the childbearing period. Physical and emotional preparation for these changes are essential.
Every woman, of course, is unique and what works for one might not work for another. Just because Heidi Klum can walk the runway two weeks after giving birth doesn’t mean that you will or even should. Take the time to get to know yourself instead of comparing yourself to others. Above, all adopt healthy habits that are sustainable, enjoyable and effective for you.
Jennifer Tucker Johnson is a certified perinatal exercise specialist and founder of Pasadena-based Fit for Expecting. She offers private training and group classes throughout the Los Angeles area. For more information, visit fitforexpecting.com or call (626) 399-1025.