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Q: “I stayed active throughout my pregnancy, lifting light weights, doing yoga, and going for power walks. I had my baby naturally (no C-section) without incident two months ago. I feel fine getting around the house and holding the baby, but my old routine, even at half of my old intensity, still feels like too much. I get winded and have abdominal discomfort. Should I be easing back into things in a different way?”

— Shannon P., via the web

Answer by Michael Geremia, personal trainer with pre- and post-natal specialties:

Assuming there was no diastasis recti (separation of the abdominal muscle) or, at least, minimal separation of the rectus abdominis during pregnancy, your core musculature has still taken quite a beating, with vast changes in length and tension of your rectus abdominis, erector spinae (lower back muscles), pelvic floor and diaphragm—just to name a few. Abdominal discomfort during exercise is a sign that your body just isn’t ready for what you’re trying to do. I would recommend a series of progressive exercises developed by Shirley Sahrmann PT, PhD, FAPTA. All of these are fully explained and demonstrated HERE. Follow the link; the video is less than five minutes long and will have a tremendously positive effect on your abdominal discomfort.

As far as feeling winded, dial back the intensity and duration of your workouts and try increasing the frequency of your workouts for the time being. You will be back to your old self in no time.

Originally published in Robert Irvine Magazine.

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