If you’re a pregnant mama there’s no doubt that you’ve heard about the benefits of working out while pregnant.
The thing is there’s a lot of misinformation, confusion, and even myths circulating around out there about what’s safe and what’s not when it comes to working out during pregnancy.
In today’s episode of The Mommy Labor Nurse Podcast we’re going to set the record straight on pregnancy fitness! I’m interviewing Sarah Kuhn, a prenatal and postnatal exercise specialist, and the
Let’s take a look at exactly what I ask Sarah about re: working out and pregnancy in this week’s episode!
Is it true that you can’t go over a certain heart rate while working out during pregnancy?
This is a super common question that mamas ask ME, and I was curious to hear what Sarah had to say about it. I was surprised to learn that this EXACT question had a lot to do with why she founded Juna.
She explains that in short, NO this is not true at all and is largely considered to be outdated information. We no longer look to heart rate as a way of determining exertion during workouts. BUT this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pay attention to exertion at all.
Instead, she recommends using the talk test – if you can carry on a conversation with 2-3 word sentences while exercising than you are okay! You should NOT be gasping for air or struggling to get oxygen. Using a heart rate monitor isn’t a bad idea, but she warns about getting obsessed with it ?
Cardio vs strength training during pregnancy? (10:30)
Sarah explains that it’s important to do both! Pregnancy, labor and birth are a marathon and you definitely need the cardio training to help your endurance with this. But strength training is equally as important!
Strength training during pregnancy helps immediately with general pain and discomfort DURING pregnancy but also once baby is here you’re going to need those muscles. Motherhood is very physical and Sarah says how important it is to know how to properly lift your baby, hold those car seats, and prepare for the strength demands that pregnancy brings.
In short, aim for an even mix, 3-4 times per week of each is ideal! And if you like one more than another, it’s okay to favor that one, just throw in the other one at least 1-2 times a week as well.
Diastasis Recti – help! (13:13)
Diastasis recti (a separation of the abdominal muscles that occurs due to pregnancy) is very common, and in some cases does resolve on its own.
If you still have a separation in your abs at 12 weeks postpartum it will probably NOT heal on its own and it will be important to actively heal it with exercise and even physical therapy.
What are some good exercises for diastasis recti? What should I do if I have diastasis recti?
Her number one recommendation that’s very helpful is doing diaphragmatic breathing after birth. She says that it’s not even an exercise but it’s so important and effective to learning to engage those muscles.
In the episode she talks about more specifics and especially emphasizes how important core and pelvic floor strengthening DURING pregnancy is toward avoiding diastasis recti afterwards.
Core exercises during pregnancy (19:41)
Sarah says that you can do core exercises during pregnancy – it’s just all about doing them safely and paying attention to your body! If you feel, see or experience any coning or doming of your abdomen while doing the core exercise, you should stop and reevaluate.
Here are the pregnancy safe core exercises she recommends:
- Diaphragmatic breathing
- Heel slides
- Transverse abdomens isolations
- Pelvic tilts
She wraps this question up saying the one thing you SHOULDN’T be doing during pregnancy is working your “6 pack abs” ie: doing sit ups because it adds abdominal pressure.
Running during pregnancy (22:05)
Sarah answered this question by saying she knows it’s an unpopular answer buuuut running during pregnancy is not good for your pelvic floor!
During the first trimester it’s totally fine, and halfway into your second, but as soon as your uterus starts expanding into your pelvic floor running really just puts so much more stress on it!
The same goes for postpartum. During postpartum, your pelvic floor is finally getting a chance to recover and finally doesn’t have stress on it! Your pelvic floor will really benefit from you waiting a bit before beginning running again, even once you’re cleared for exercise.
Postpartum exercise (28:10)
Do we really have to wait 6 weeks from birth to begin exercise?
Sarah explains that ACOG just updated their stance on this, and that it can really vary from mama to mama based on how active you were during pregnancy, what kind of birth you had, and so much more!
So, it can be anywhere from 3-4 weeks postpartum to up to 8 weeks or later. But one of the biggest things to remember are that there is NO reason to rush into fitness if you’re not feeling ready. Rest, rest, rest until you feel able and ready.
And above all she recommends to ALWAYS see a pelvic floor PT to kind of assess things and help you determine the right time for you.
What sort of exercises should I be doing if I had a c-section vs vaginal birth? (31:23)
She says that the biggest difference is WHEN you can start. Tune into this part of the episode for more details on this.
Is there a way to target the c-section apron? (33:24)
- She recommends scar mobilization
- Seeing a pelvic floor PT
- Cleaning up your diet to remove culprits of inflammation including gluten, dairy, and processed foods, and see if that makes a difference
- Strengthening your deep core muscles
Tips to find the time to workout during pregnancy and postpartum (34:48)
We all know how hard this is! Here are some top tips from Sarah (who’s a mom of 3) and I chimed in with a few tips too:
- Establish a routine and try to do it at the same, committed time every day
- Find a program that is something you LOVE to do! Don’t do strength training if you don’t like that! If you love dancing, do a dance program
- Listen or watch something you enjoy while you workout – like a podcast, show or your favorite music
Losing the baby weight (38:23)
Sarah emphasizes that this is SO different for everyone and that there are so many variables that can affect your journey toward losing the baby weight – but on average it takes women anywhere from 6 to 12 months.
In this last portion of the episode, we talk a LOT about this and discuss all the different variables and things you can do to jumpstart or speed up weight loss if that’s important to you.
You’ll also hear info related to milk supply and weight loss, and working out as a breastfeeding mom.
Sarah Kuhn is the Founder of Juna, a fitness and nutrition app for pregnancy and postpartum. Sarah is a Pre & Post-natal exercise specialist and has spent the last 10 years of her career building, launching and marketing digital fitness products like Beachbody on Demand.
Sarah realized there was a serious gap in the market during her own path to motherhood and started on her mission to create the product she wished she had during pregnancy and beyond.
Sponsor: Juna App
This week’s episode was sponsored by the app Sarah founded – Juna. It was created to provide scientifically backed, up to date fitness and nutrition information, all in one place to pregnant and postpartum mamas.
When you download Juna you’ll enter your baby’s due date – if you’re expecting – or your baby’s birthday if you’ve already had your baby, & you’ll be put directly into the appropriate week of your journey.
There’s a key nutrient every single week with recipe suggestions, a daily trimester-specific workout, and pregnancy and postpartum tips from Sarah and the team at Juna. There’s really no other app like it out there!
Sarah is giving a special offer to Mommy Labor Nurse listeners so right now you can get Juna for 25% off your subscription by using the code LIESEL25 at subscribe.juna.co.