Reshape your belly after birth

Timely action and an effective plan will help you reshape your post-partum belly and regain the muscle tone and skin firmness you had before getting pregnant. Read on our tips on exercising to get rid of the flabby stomach aspect and make the stretch marks fade away.

How your belly looks like right after birth

Unless you are a celebrity catered by trainers, nutritionists and doctors, your post-partum belly will not look so toned and flat. Most women have a flabby stomach after birth, cleft in the middle where the stomach muscles have distanced to make room for the baby. Stretch marks don’t make it better either. It feels somewhat like a deflated ball and looks like a sinking cake. The skin loses its firmness and feels soft at touch. The linea nigra will disappear in a few months and the red stretch marks can fade if treated.

Get rid of the stretch marks

It’s easier to prevent the appearance of stretch marks than to remove them afterwards. Use lotions and oils with vitamin E throughout your pregnancy. If stretch marks have been formed, they will fade in time if you continue to use lotions.

Exercising can also help regain the elasticity of the skin, but don’t exercise in the days right after birth. After you feel more energized, start training with exercises focused on your stomach muscles.

Regain muscle tone

You’ll likely feel sore and tired in the first week after birth. When you regain your energy, start with some light exercises and increase the intensity week by week. Sit-ups and plank exercises are very effective for building the muscle tone on your stomach. Try yoga, pilates and swimming to complete your training and build your overall muscle tone.

Maintain an after-birth diet

In the first two months after delivery you need to ensure that you get plenty of nutrients and calories to recover and maintain a healthy milk supply. Don’t rush into a diet to lose weight while you’re still breastfeeding. You will naturally start to get back in shape if you exercise. Later on, you can speed up the process by combining training with a healthy post-partum diet. Set your daily target to an intake of about 1800 calories after you are no longer breastfeeding. With the proper motivation, your belly will get back in shape in 6 to 12 months from birth.

Pregnancy Yoga Exercises for the Second Trimester

Prenatal yoga is a great exercise for mums to be. When practiced safely, you will feel more energized, more comfortable and your body will be stronger and more flexible. If you’ve been practicing yoga regularly in your first trimester of pregnancy, you will now notice an increase in energy and a general decrease in discomfort. This is the most enjoyable time for exercise, as the pregnancy symptoms from the first trimester have diminished and the major physical changes of the third trimester are not an obstacle yet.

How is yoga different in the second trimester?

Now that a small bump is becoming visible, yoga practice will help you to become aware of the responsibility for the little one your carry. Yoga helps you reflect on this newly learned selflessness and on letting go and accepting.

Your baby is starting to shift the centre of gravity towards the growing belly, putting pressure on your back. This means you will have to modify your balance poses and use support for most of the poses.

At your prenatal yoga classes, you will learn how to adjust your practice to alleviate discomfort in the lower back and other sensitive areas. Standing poses and balance poses are very beneficial in the second trimester, as they build the muscles in your legs and prevent swelling, but most of them have to be adjusted by using support such as a chair. Warrior I and Warrior II are excellent poses that will help you improve your balance and strengthen the knee joints and thigh muscles. Don’t avoid them if you feel worried about your balance, and instead practice these poses near a wall.

Safety tips for practicing yoga in the second trimester

As your sense of balance gets affected by the growing belly and joint and muscles have loosened up, be extra careful during your exercises. Don’t push yourself by locking into a yoga position for too long or forcing your body over its limits. Overdoing it at this stage of pregnancy can result in injuries. If your yoga class is not dedicated to prenatal exercises, make sure your instructor knows that you are pregnant and in order to give you advice on what support to use during standing poses and how to adjust poses to accommodate your bump and release the pressure on your lower back. Avoid poses that involve lying flat on your back. This can put pressure on your spine and can restrict blood flow to your womb. Choose a side-lying position as your resting pose instead.

Pregnancy Yoga Exercises for the First Trimester

Prenatal yoga is a very popular training for mums-to-be. Besides the fitness advantages, yoga also teaches you how to relax and how to breathe correctly while exercising. Pick a class and go. It’s not for everyone, but you might like yoga and maybe even continue with postnatal yoga.

Types of classes

There are plenty of yoga classes in London that are dedicated to pregnant women, offering beginner, intermediate and advanced yoga trainings for women in their first, second and third trimester. Discuss with your yoga instructor to help you pick the one that is the most suitable for you. During the first trimester you probably don’t have too many restrictions regarding physical exercise, so you can also opt for regular yoga classes – unless your doctor suggested otherwise. For practising prenatal yoga in your second trimester, you will need support for most of the poses. One of the lightest yoga styles is Hatha Yoga. It has a slower tempo and it’s very approachable for beginners.

Yoga postures for the first trimester

If you’re new to yoga, you’ll start your training by learning basic postures and how to breathe correctly. Then, the exercises should focus on gradually increasing your strength and muscle flexibility. Meditation is a core part of traditional yoga styles, but you can opt for classes that concentrate more on the fitness part of yoga and less on meditation. Power yoga is the most popular yoga style that concentrates mostly on the fitness benefits of yoga, but it is also one of the most demanding yoga trainings. Below are a few postures that specifically benefit the muscles that prepare you for pregnancy and giving birth.

Sideways swings

Parighasana, or sideways swings, is a great pose to build your muscles on the sides of your body and to improve spine flexibility.

Cat and dog poses

These are relatively easy to do, and very efficient in strengthening the muscles in your lower back. Alternate the positions to relax and increase flexibility of the spine.

Urdhva Dhanurasana backbends

This pose is a good start point for more advanced backbend yoga poses. This exercise will improve the flexibility of your spine and it will help you build energy and strength.

Warrior poses

These poses will help you strengthen your joints and prepare your body for supporting the extra weight.

Stay safe

Remember to consume extra calories in the days when you exercise and to always consult with your doctor or midwife before starting a new exercise class. If you ever feel that a yoga position is uncomfortable for you, adjust your position. Ask your class instructor to guide you or to suggest another position with the same benefits.

Top 5 Activities and Events for Pregnant Women and New Parents in London

Having a baby for the first time can be an overwhelming experience. You’re preparing for a challenging journey and many changes are going on with your body, mood and lifestyle. Now is the time to meet people who are going through the same thing as you do. Workshops, classes, meetups and other fun activities and events can help you connect with expecting mums or new parents in the UK.

Antenatal classes

Antenatal classes are a great place to start preparing for the journey ahead of you. It’s a place where you can ask any questions about pregnancy and issues related to pregnancy, consult with professionals and share experiences with other mums to be.

Exercise classes

Go to a pregnancy yoga class or other exercise classes dedicated for pregnant women. Besides the health benefits you get out of exercising, you will be offered support and information related to pregnancy and get the chance to socialize with other mums to be.

Meetups

Meetups are a great opportunity to get in touch with people you have something in common with and make new friends. What do you do at a meetup? You share thoughts and experiences with others, participate in workshops and join fun activities and classes. A popular online platform in the UK is Netmums Meetups. This can help you meet expecting parents and new parents living in your area. If you’re expecting, check out the Due Date Clubs, where you can meet mothers to be who have the same due date as you. Can’t find a meetup in your area? You can easily set up a new group through the platform.

Support groups

Somewhat similar to meetups, support groups are a little less casual and a little more organised, focusing on activities designed to stimulate interaction and information exchange among participants. London Mums is a fruitful peer support group, organizing both online and offline activities for mums (or dads) based in London. Signup to the newsletter to get all the updates and enjoy activities where you can meet other like you face to face: meetups, conferences, workshops, movie nights, parties and more.

Swap and sales events

Events where you can swap or sell clothes and items are now trending among mums to be and parents of toddlers. NCT Nearly New Sales are local events everywhere in UK organized through the NCT platform. Babies grow fast, so it becomes costly to keep buying new clothes and accessories. You can also find or sell pregnancy essentials, so be on the lookout for these local events that are closest to you. You’ll be helping the environment and the fundraising organized by NCT to support other parents in the UK.

Exercise Safely during Pregnancy

Workouts during pregnancy will keep you and your baby healthy, help you sleep better and prepare your body for labour. If you’re a beginner to exercising, start with 15 minutes workout sessions two or three times a week. Gradually increase the length and frequency of your sessions to 30 minutes sessions daily. You will feel healthier and more prepared for giving birth. To make sure that you exercise as safely as possible, consult the checklist below and follow our guidelines.

Safe pregnancy exercise checklist:

□  Always check with your doctor before beginning your exercise plan. Certain medical conditions rule out some types of physical activity.

□  If you used to work out intensely before pregnancy, train at equal or lower intensity while pregnant.

□  Tell your training instructor you’re pregnant, so that he can offer advice on which exercises are safe for you.

□  Keep a correct posture while you’re exercising, in order to protect your back.

□  Wear a supportive bra and comfortable clothes and appropiate footwear during your workout.

□  Make sure to drink at least 2 litres of water or fluids every day.

□  Choose exercises that are comfortable for you. If you don’t feel comfortable anymore during an exercise, you should stop.

□  Avoid exercising on your back during the 2nd and 3rd trimester.

□  Do not end jogging or aerobic exercises abruptly. If you have unusual symptoms and need to stop, try to walk around slowly for a couple of minutes.

□  Aim for workouts of moderate intensity. You should not feel exhausted or too tired at the end of a training session.

Stop exercising if you have unusual symptoms

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (RCOG) has provided a list of unusual symptoms that you should consider as warning signs when you exercise. If you have any of these symptoms while exercising, stop your workout immediately and call your doctor or midwife to consult you.

  • Shortness of breath
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness or feeling faint
  • Chest pains or palpitations
  • Backaches
  • Pain in your abdomen or pubic area
  • Pain in the pelvic girdle
  • Painful uterine contractions
  • Feeling fewer movement from the baby
  • Leakage of amniotic fluids
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Feeling of weakness in muscles
  • Pain in your legs or swelling of legs

For more information provided by the RCOG on suitable exercises for pregnant women and safety precautions for exercising during pregnancy, check out their guide on Recreational Exercise and Pregnancy.

 

The 10th Week of Pregnancy

Your baby is now just over an inch long and continues to grow fast. The foetal period begins, during which vital organs and systems will mature and develop complex functions. Fingernails and toenails begin to appear during the 10th or 11th week, and elbows and knees will soon start to form, although you won’t feel any kicking for another month or two. At the next scan you might be able to see your baby bending hands and kicking his or her legs. Look out for your little one’s hands on the monitor and maybe you’ll even spot the no longer webbed fingers.

Your baby’s spine, bones and cartilage are forming continuously, shaping a more and more human-like aspect. Teeth begin to form under your baby’s gums at this stage already, though they won’t come out until he or she will be six months old.

How your body changes

Your uterus has grown to about the size of a grapefruit during the 10th week, and your bump should also be visible by now. It’s time to shop for more comfortable, stretchy clothes or maternity wear. Save up money by adding elastic waist bands to your pants and skirts, an efficient method preferred by most expecting mums. You might be experiencing fatigue, dizziness and headaches. Make sure that you get plenty of rest while sticking to an exercise routine. Swimming, walking, and light stretching exercises are suitable for most pregnant women. Fresh air is a daily must. To reduce symptoms of dizziness, carry water and fruits or light snacks around you to keep hydrated and boost your blood-sugar when needed.

Pay special attention to what you’re eating and how much you’re eating. Include plenty of fruits, vegetables and leafy greens in your meals. During the 10th week you should be eating with about 300 calories more per day than before pregnancy. If your symptoms include constipation, fix it with fibre and fluids. Get your fibre from whole grain products and fresh and dried fruits. Choose raw vegetables over heavily cooked meals.

Pregnancy symptoms can be strong and influence your daily mood, while causing diverse symptoms. Focus on what you can do to relieve some of the symptoms, but you might have to just wait for others to go away. You’ll find many of these symptoms will reduce or disappear during the second trimester, which is getting closer.

The Most Successful Ways to Reduce Pregnancy Stretch Marks

In the third trimester of pregnancy, most women get stretch marks as a result of the drastic gain in weight. While there are many methods to prevent their appearance, the most influential factor in the appearance of stretch marks during pregnancy is genetics. And once the stretch marks have made their appearance it is almost impossible to make them completely disappear. Yet there are ways to make them fade. Here are the most recommended ones. Remember, the earlier you begin to apply them, the more effective they are!

IPL Treatment

Sessions with Intense Pulsed Light are a highly effective post-pregnancy treatment for your stretch marks if they are still red. Although there is no evidence yet that IPL treatment affects pregnant women in any way, most clinics and salons avoid treating pregnant women for extra precautions.

Pulsed dye laser

Only choose this option if your stretch marks are still red. Treatment with a pulsed dye laser device will not completely eliminate stretch marks, but it will make them appear more faded.

Prescription creams

Body creams based on retinoids (derived from Vitamin A) and glycolic acid increase the elasticity of your skin and can have visible effects if applied in the early stages of stretch marks. However, you cannot use retinoids while you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. Talk to your doctor for a custom recommendation.

Exfoliation

Choose a natural exfoliator that is gentle with your skin and use it once or twice a week. Through exfoliation, dead cells are removed and your skin cells renew faster. You’ll also have a softer and more radiant skin.

Moisturize

Treat your skin with body lotion, almond oil, Shea butter, cocoa butter, or other body moisturizers. They won’t make the stretch marks disappear, but if applied early on, they will have an effect in the later stages of the stretch marks’ evolution.

Eat what’s right for your skin

Foods containing Vitamin E, Vitamin C and Zinc are your skin’s best friends.

Exercise

Physical activity keeps your skin healthy and nourished by increasing blood flow in your body. Another great thing about exercise is that it helps reduce stress, which has an impact on how your skin behaves. More than that, if you keep an exercise routine during pregnancy, you will most likely gain weight gradually and not abruptly.

Keep hydrated

Drink plenty of water to keep your skin elastic. The more elastic your skin is, the slower your stretch marks will expand.

Top 6 Celebrity Diets during Pregnancy

What are pregnant celebrities eating these days? Between struggling to stay in shape and resisting to cravings, sticking to a healthy diet and exercise routine can be difficult. Find below how some celebrities managed to eat for two in a healthy way. A current trend in exercising seems to be yoga training, combined with eating fruits, nuts and fish. As for dealing with cravings and morning sickness, each one has their own unique tricks.

Kate Middleton had a healthy lifestyle before being pregnant as well, so not many sacrifices were needed. Her diet includes healthy snacks of nuts and fruits and nutritious meals with codfish, chicken, turkey and some (craved) vegetarian curry. She gave up drinking coffee and using tanning spray in order to minimize possible negative effects. Kate also reduced her intense workout and changed to lighter exercise activities, such as morning walks and pregnancy yoga. To prevent the appearance of stretch marks, Kate uses cocoa butter, which is rich in Vitamin E.

Curry dishes were also among Lily Allen’s cravings when she was pregnant with her second child, Marnie Rose. Lily also liked to spend lazy afternoons watching DVDs while drinking tea and eating sweet treats like caramel biscuits and sweetened yoghurt.

Victoria Beckham included omega-3 rich foods in her pregnancy diets, with a preference for smoked salmon. Her cravings for marmalade toast with tea are not too bad either. Many pregnant women crave for junk food, high in salt or sugar. To stay in shape, Victoria continued her yoga exercises, combined with pilates and cardio workouts.

Coleen Rooney declared she felt much more comfortable with her curves during the second pregnancy and did not hesitate to sunbathe at the beach. While exercising to stay fit, Coleen is not concerned with the gained weight, but rather with eating healthy. She used scented candles for dealing with her pregnancy cravings and was spoiled by her husband with bath oils massages for reducing backaches.

Sophie Dahl craved for pineapple during her first pregnancy, which is quite healthy and can also help with morning sickness. Sophie likes to eat organic and sustainable food, cooked from scratched and with passion.

Mel B kept a pretty strict pregnancy diet while expecting her third child, in 2011. Breakfast was the most consistent meal, including eggs, turkey and avocado. Lunch consisted of light salads with chicken or fish. She had plenty of fruits for snacks and replaced coffee with herbal tea.