Posted in Super Momma

Toning up after giving birth: When &How?

5 ft 4 inc 115lbs pre pregnancy
Most pregnant moms (99%!!!) cannot wait to get back to pre-pregnancy size; a smaller waist and firmer butt & thighs after giving birth. We lose a lot of strength in our core due to the over stretching of our abdominals and we lose core stability. Even though a new mom loses about 10- 15 pounds after delivery, the million dollar question remains to be “when can I start working out again?”

Once you are discharged home, the first week you will be very busy with your newborn especially if you’re a first-time mom. Healing time frames differ for vaginal delivery versus cesarean section. If you had a vaginal delivery, you feel very sore on your bottom for about 3 weeks. If you had a C-section, you feel pain on your incision site. I am sorry to say this but after a C-section, most activities will be achy. Every time you try to sit up, get in/out of bed, reach for something etc., you will have some aches/pain that will last for about 4-6 weeks.A vaginal delivery helping time is 6 weeks where a C-section is 8 weeks. Since many women experience abdominal separation, it is advised to wait out 6-8 weeks before you start any abdominal exercises. Best exercises to focus on initially are the ones that are going to keep you up right first.

Still 5 ft 4 inc 155 lbs at 32 weeks
You can first start working on your mid back, shoulder stabilizers and your gluteals. These muscle groups will help you with proximal strengthening. What does that mean? These muscles will keep you upright, resist the pull of gravity and reverse the adverse effects of bad posture(s). Some shoulder exercises to perform are shoulders squeezes, wall slides, airplanes, angels and horizontal adductions. Some gluteal strengthening exercises you can do at home are clamshells, side lying straight leg kicks, squats (form is important for proper activation), butt busters and fire hydrants.

You can start in your core stabilization exercises with transversus abdominus activation(TrA). Very important ladies!! TrA is a deep stabilizer in your core that needs to be active to support a healthy good posture and protect your spine from any injury or simply prevent back pain. Waiting about six weeks on average after vaginal delivery is optimal before you start with any aggressive abdominal training that can include sit ups, crunches, reverse crunches, straight leg lowering etc. If you had a C-section, that time frame stretches to eight weeks to ensure soft tissue healing.

What exercises helped you the most to recover and get fit? Which exercises you liked? Which exercises you hated? Please comment below and let me know!

Stay awesome!



Posted in pregnancy, Super Momma

Essential exercises of the second trimester

good-pregnant-posture-Due to your growing baby and increased amount of relaxin in your system, your posture, your laxity and the way you move will start changing. You all have heard of Newtons third law: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. When you are carrying a baby in your belly, the weight of the baby will change the way your spine is. You arch will get exaggerated, your core stabilizers will be inhibited, then your hamstrings will tighen up to put the “breaks on” to stop that forward pull. These are just some of the changes in your lower half.

Even though, we refer to our spine as neck, mid back and low back, in reality, our spine is made up of 33 bones that are interconnected via ligaments, muscles, and fascia. The point is if your curvature in your low back changes, it will eventually change your alignment in your neck. That is one of the reasons why pregnant women tend to suffer a forward head posture that also accompanies rounded shoulders and tight chest. As the weight you are carrying in the front increases, you can imagine the increased stress on your joints and muscles.

Following a program that consists of both stretching and strengthening is essential especially during your second trimester since your body is going under more stress as your baby keeps growing inside of you. If you have not started with a workout routine, this is the time for it! Do it asap.

If you can spare 20-30 minutes daily, performing couple stretches and strengthening exercises will be helpful during your pregnancy, labor as well as postpartum. You can either alternate your days as upper and lower half, or you can dedicate stretches to one day and leave strengthening exercises for the next day.

Upper half

Some stretches to focus on should be for your neck and chest. Doorway stretches are really good for your neck while seated stretches for both right and the left side of your neck will alleviate muscle tightness and spasms. After stretching what is tight, the next step is to strengthen what is weak. My favorite muscle groups to focus on are your triceps and upper back. You can either use weights or an elastic band for both exercises. Another choice is simply using your body weight. Tricep dips on the edge of a couch, modified push ups or regular push ups if you are able to, and/or planks will help you strengthen your upper back.


Lower half

When it comes to stretching, keeping your hips mobile and unrestricted will aid your low back pain and prepare you for labor. Hip flexors, adductors, hamstrings and calves are the muscle groups that need to be stretched. Holding 30-60 seconds shall be adequate hence it will allow muscle to start relaxing. Strengthening your abs is out of the question and crunches make it to the top of the exercises that you need to avoid while pregnant. Whet you can do instead is focusing on your deep pelvic muscles and gluteals. Kegel exercises, double leg bridges that you can advance to single leg later on, clamshells and again planks are great exercises. As the exercises get easier, you can also add 5-10 seconds holds for each rep.

deep-breath.jpgAn important tip to keep in mind to avoid holding your breath during exercising since it can also affect your blood pressure. You cannot vocalize, without taking a breath so  easiest trick is to count out loud while you are exercising.

I would like to hear about your perspective. What do you think? Please comment and let me know!

Tune in for more information and instructions on detailed exercise programs, until then stay awesome!



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Posted in pregnancy

How to battle back pain during pregnancy

Hello everyone!

In my previous post I talked about why we develop back pain during pregnancy and in this post, we will talk about how to tackle the pain. Pre-pregnancy, I worked out 3 times a week  that consisted of cardio and lifting. When I stopped working out in my first trimester, I lost some of my muscle mass. That was not a good outcome for my body since I started developing some back, neck and pelvic pain. Four factors that can create back pain during pregnancy are losing muscle mass, postural changes, developing baby and hormones. Here are four ways how you can tackle back pain during pregnancy.

#1 Avoid standing or sitting for too long 

use-support-pillows-while-sitting-during-pregnancyAs you move along your pregnancy, your activity tolerance will change. As nausea and fatigue slow you down in your first trimester,  your growing belly will limit your activity tolerance in your last trimester.  Today, we all are used multi tasking where we go non-stop all day long. My advice to you is take it easy and take breaks to make it more manageable and less painful for your body. Avoid prolonged activity such as sitting or standing for too long. Being in a position for an extended period of time will increase the stiffness in your back. If you are sitting for an hour, getting up may be harder. If you are standing for an hour, you may start getting radiating pains from your back to your legs. Remember to give yourself adequate rest breaks.

mh5m455i7it6hzhj_oxn-wqA low back pillow such as OPTP lumbar support can also prolong your sitting tolerance. You can purchase it on Ebay or Amazon for under $20. This hot dog shaped pillow fits in the curvature of your back and supports your spine during sitting in front of TV, while you are at the dinner table or even while driving. You can take it with you anywhere. A little support for your back, will make it also complain less.

#2 Stick to your exercise program

Following an exercise program that consists of both stretching and strengthening is very important. Stretching will prevent over tightening of your muscles, while strengthening will keep your muscles active and engaged that will give the support for your growing baby and changing body.  20-30 minutes of daily exercising will be helpful during your pregnancy, labor as well as postpartum. When it comes to your upper back, the key is to stretch the front of your chest and strengthen your upper back. When it comes to your lower back, the key is to stretching your hamstrings, calves and hip flexors, while you strengthen you gluteals and deep core stabilizers.

Pilates and yoga are also great tools to use while pregnant. Pilates focus on core stabilization and hip strengthening while yoga focuses on improving overall flexibility, and strength by using your own body weight.


#3 Use a belt of support

If your back pain is hard to manage, then it is ok to get a little external support. I have a small frame and during my second trimester, I started getting some back and pelvic pain where I could not stand more than 10 minutes. When I was registering for my registry, I came across Medela Maternity support. Thinking to myself, “it is under $20 so can’t hurt to try”, I am glad I made the purchase. This belt provided gentle support for my low back which eased my pain. I was able to stand for longer periods of time which allowed me to attend some house chores. It is made of stretchy material so it did not dig into my belly as it gently lifted and supported my stomach. This belt attaches in the front via velcro system so it was easy to put on, adjust and take off. Hassle free! Definitely recommended!


#4 See a professional

pregnant-ptSeeing a health care professional throughout your pregnancy is a great idea. Even though, your ongoing aches and pains will stop once you give birth, alleviating those symptoms can be as simple as seeing a physical therapist or chiropractor as little as once a week, regularly. A health care professional can address any misalignments in your body, can use manual techniques to decrease muscle spasms, correct misalignments, and unlock aching joints. They can use tape to support your growing belly to alleviate your pelvic and back pain, give you tips on which exercises to perform to keep your musculoskeletal system as strong and efficient as possible.

I would like to hear about your perspective. What do you think? Please comment and let me know!

Do not miss my next post on essential exercises of your second trimester!

Stay tuned in, stay awesome!

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Posted in pregnancy

Onset of back pain during pregnancy, I worked out 3 times a week  that consisted of cardio and lifting. When I stopped working out in my first trimester, I lost some of my muscle mass. That was not a good outcome for my body since I started developing some back, neck and pelvic pain. Four factors that can create back pain during pregnancy are losing muscle mass, postural changes, developing baby and hormones. Lets look at each one of them in more detail.

Losing muscle mass: Our body is very smart when it comes to conserving energy and prioritizing, and responds to demands very efficiently. If your pregnancy prevents you from your workouts, it is inevitable that your body will stop sustaining your muscle mass. Once the muscles around your joints are weakened, you are more prone to biomechanical faults, decreased control and increased pains and aches due to daily demands.

Postural changes: As your growing baby gets heavier and heavier, the forward pull on your body becomes more and more. Your core weakens due to over stretching and posture also responds to this pull. Your neck juts out more, shoulders get rounded and curvature in your low back is exaggerated. All these changes creates uneven weight bearing in your joints and alters your biomechanics which creates aches and pains.

Developing baby: As your little one gets bigger, it all gets really tight in your belly which will start exerting more pressure towards the outside. Your internal organs are shifted, and there is a different demand from your musculoskeletal system. Your core muscles get stretched out and weaker so they no longer are able to support you as well as they did pre-pregnancy. When your spine does not have the stabilization and guidance during movement from your core, you are more prone to injury.

Hormones: One of the reasons to why pregnancy women go through mood changes, experience morning sickness and have a “glow” is due to rapid hormonal changes in the body. Besides estrogen and progesterone, relaxin hormone is essential to keep your joints more flexible to prepare you for labor. While all of these hormones are absolutely critical to complete your pregnancy, they also put you at risk for sprains and strains due to increased laxity. In a nutshell, increased laxity plus weakened muscles equals up to injury followed by pain waiting to happen. Be mindful and careful during any physical activity.


I would like to hear about your perspective. What do you think? Please comment and let me know!

Check out part 2 series of how to battle back pain during pregnancy next!

Tune in for more information, until then stay awesome 🙂


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Posted in pregnancy, Super Momma

Exercising during pregnancy

how-to-exercise-during-pregnancyMany women continue to run, lift, do sports such as crossfit while they are pregnant. There is 15% chance of miscarriage until baby’s heartbeat is present. Genetic problems, drug or alcohol abuse, hormonal imbalances can cause or contribute to miscarriage vs. exercising does not. I think the myth is that if you jump up and down too much or if you lift heavy, you may experience a miscarriage. The fact is that your baby is protected very well in your womb and is not going anywhere.

I am a practicing doctor and due to the nature of my job, I do not get to sit down. I also tried to work out for about an hour 2-3 times a week. At least, that was my pre-pregnancy routine. During my pregnancy, I went to the gym twice and in both instances, after 15 minutes of light workout, I was so out of breath that I had to leave. When I got home, I was wiped out for 2 hours. Due to the extreme fatigue and not feeling well, I could not make it to the gym so I ended up cancelling my membership.

Even after cancelling my gym membership, thanks to my job, I was able to stay active by moving around whenever I was at work. Then when I was home, I would keep active with gardening, cooking, light cleaning etc. I stayed away from prolonged sitting and bending over too much to pick something up from the floor, or getting something from the cabinet/ fridge since those would give me back pain. I also got a piece of elastic band to work out some muscle groups for two main reasons: 1- I was losing my muscle mass since I was no longer lifting weights. 2- I was getting a forward head posture and wanted to oppose the forward pull by getting my back stronger. I did couple exercises periodically to keep my upper back, shoulders and hips in check. I would also take walks around my neighborhood to stay active and de-stress from daily drama.

832b6b14-7d48-4fd6-9b96-94751736f15d.crop_1000x525_0106.resize_1200x630.format_jpeg.inline_yesWhen it comes to what kind of exercise in what amounts is right for you, it is mainly up to you and how you feel. There are really no recommended guidelines. First trimester, due to fatigue and nausea, I do not think any soon-to-be mom can stick with a strict exercise program. Second trimester is the time that you start feeling better, however your blood volume is already 50% increased, baby is getting bigger and placenta is fully developed so you are carrying around some extra weight. You may find out that your exercise capacity is not the same. Third trimester is the time that everything starts getting tight that you start waddling even when you are walking so moving around definitely gets restricted.

494389547_XSIf you already have a routine and able to go on with some adjustments, and then do it. If you are a crossfit athlete, I advise you to use less weight during lifts. If you like to run, I advise you to either slow down your speed or cut down on your distance. If you cannot run anymore but like to stay active, you can use the elliptical, which is a great alternative to running or simply walk.

Pilates and yoga are great tools to use while pregnant. Pilates focus on core stabilization and hip strengthening while yoga focuses on improving overall flexibility, and strength by using your own body weight.

6 Don’t’s of exercise

  • Refrain from hot yoga since high temperatures may affect your and your baby’s health
  • Make sure you are not holding your breath. If you are holding your breath, you may increase your blood pressure during exercising
  • Ensure you are drinking enough water before and after exercise to avoid dehydration
  • Do not push yourself beyond your limits- this is not the time for that
  • Your tolerance differs everyday – your body is changing daily so what you could tolerate will be different so stick with a program that has variety of exercises
  • If exercising is new to you then tut more emphasis on stretching since keeping more flexible and mobile can aid during labor

I would like to hear about your perspective. What do you think? Please comment and let me know!

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