The world of prenatal and postnatal fitness and wellness is ripe with myths, unwanted advice, and frankly, ridiculous expectations. Jen Thomas of Baby Bump Fitness understands this and is dedicated to getting the truth out there.

Chennai-based fitness expert Jen Thomas is all about body positive and a no-nonsense approach to holistic healthcare. A precision nutrition coach (Level 2), who is certified twice in prenatal and postnatal exercise coaching from the American Council on Exercise and Girls Gone Strong Academy, Thomas worked extensively with mothers and mothers-to-be before launching Baby Bump Fitness. Offering monthly online health and fitness routines for expectant mothers and for moms post-delivery, Baby Bump Fitness focuses on safe workout videos, core strengthening exercises, nutritional guidance, and wellness resources.

 

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We sat down with Thomas to bust some myths about prenatal and postnatal fitness.

Eating for two

“This myth is pretty pervasive, no matter the culture — after all, everyone wants the mama to be well fed and comfortable during her pregnancy. That’s important, however, some people are unsure of what “eating for two” means. It certainly doesn’t mean eating for two adults. It is in fact more to do with being conscious about the food you’re putting into your body because you’re making nutrition decisions for two people. This means choosing healthy, wholesome food to fuel both you and your baby.”

Breastfeeding myths

“A very common myth is that your body bounces back when you’re breastfeeding. Breastfeeding indeed burns up to 500 extra calories a day, which can help a mother lose weight, but it’s not a given or standard for all women. Some women lose weight after they finish breastfeeding, some will struggle to lose it altogether, and some will lose it while they are breastfeeding. We’re all different.

“Don’t rely on breastfeeding as a weight-loss mechanism. Instead, focus on healthy nutrition behaviours that can help you fuel your body, which have the side-effect of weight loss. This includes drinking up to three litres of water a day, eating fresh, fibrous vegetables, lean protein, whole-grain carbohydrates, and fruits instead of sugary, processed snacks.”

Pregnant women can’t use their core

“Wrong! A lot of women assume that since their belly has grown, and they haven’t been able to feel their core contract for some time, that means that those muscles don’t work. On the contrary, they are very much present and you can gently strengthen them during all three trimesters. Engaging your core and keeping it strong can help reduce lower back pain, which is a common complaint with pregnant women.”

Pregnant women need to relax throughout the pregnancy

“Movement during your pregnancy can be a beneficial thing. If you have permission from your doctor for activity, it’s a fantastic stress buster, which can help you through all of the mood changes that you may be experiencing. It could help you rest better at night, alleviate back pain, ease constipation, and ultimately, increase your stamina for the big event. However, listen to your body. If you’re feeling tired or fatigued, take a rest day. I don’t want women to feel like they have to ‘power through’ a workout that their body isn’t ready for. Take each day as it comes.”

Exercise can harm pregnant women (or the baby)

prenatal and post natal fitness

“A lot of women are wrapped in the fear that any movement during your pregnancy can cause a miscarriage or injury. However, our bodies are much more capable of movement than we give them credit for. Most women, with permission from their doctors, can continue exercise without any issue at all. Exercises such as swimming, pilates, yoga, recline cycling, and light resistance training are all extremely beneficial and gentle for an expecting mama.”

6-week checkup myth: Slow down

“Doctors will give you permission to go ahead with exercise after your 6-week post delivery check-up, given that you are healing well internally and externally. However, that doesn’t mean that you are ready to hit the gym the way you once did. Slow down, girl, you just delivered! There has been a lot of fundamental changes that have taken place within the body. Take your healing and fitness at a progressive, mindful pace. A lot of new moms are itching to get back into the gym immediately, however, focus on rebuilding strength so that you don’t injure yourself on your journey back to fitness.”

You Can’t Do ANYTHING After Delivery

“Yes, you can! I encourage women to start working on strengthening their pelvic floor muscles, regardless of the delivery they had. You can do this via an exercise called the Connection Breath, which reconnects your pelvic floor and core muscles in a very gentle way. It also stimulates blood flow to the area, encouraging healing. After a few weeks, gentle walking is also encouraged, as well as some stretching.”

I have had a mum-tum for over a year postpartum, and it’s here to stay:

“It doesn’t have to be. This situation is medically known as Diastasis Recti, which essentially means the mid-line of your abdominals (the 6-pack muscles) has stretched during pregnancy, hasn’t fully regained strength, and has resulted in a 2-finger wide gap. There are exercises that you can do, and some you can avoid, to help heal this gap, AND reduce your mum-tum.”

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Devanshi Kapadia

Kapadia is a content writer and creator. For over six years, she’s worked with brands and digital portals like Asian Paints, Kellogg’s, Glamrs, MissMalini.com, and more. Reading is her first love and she’s got a penchant for drama. So, you can always find her chasing a good story.