THE BLOG

Diet & Exercise Habits in Pregnancy

Mar 23, 2024

Diet & Exercise Habits in Pregnancy Affect Postpartum Weight Loss.

 

Congratulations, superhero! You've just grown, and brought a new life into the world – that's pretty incredible. Photo Credit @LGVCreative

Now, let's chat about postpartum wellness and weight loss, and here's a hint: it's not all about the scale…and some of it even has to do with what you do during your pregnancy! 

Postpartum weight loss is NOT the only consideration postpartum, but there ARE certain things you can do prenatally to set yourself up for success. 

Acknowledging the Postpartum Journey

Postpartum weight loss is undoubtedly a consideration for all humans who have made other humans, especially if you're deemed high risk for diabetes or obesity. However, it's crucial to recognize that the journey to wellness encompasses various factors, many of which extend to your habits while you were growing this little human in the first place.

Your body, having taken about 10 months to nurture and grow a tiny human, deserves the time and patience to reset to this new life as a parent…and also, if we can make a few simple, meaningful changes to our life during pregnancy, we might set ourselves up for success in the fourth trimester.  Ready to learn more?

Unveiling a Science-Backed Gem About Fourth Trimester Weight Loss

Yes, we're bringing science into the picture. This study, by Pawalia, et al, published in the Journal of Women's Health Physical Therapy, July/Sept 2020 edition, unfolds a promising intervention during your pregnancy that could make your postpartum journey smoother. Spoiler alert: it involves a combination of supervised exercises and dietary interventions.

A Study About How Pregnancy Diet & Exercise Affects Your Postpartum Weight Loss? Tell Me More!

In the study, about 120 women were broken into 4 groups, each receiving different levels of diet & exercise advice/support during their pregnancy.  The 4 groups were:

Control Group:

The control group received general advice to eat well and be healthy – a foundation for all the groups involved, and the “standard of care” in Western Medicine today.

Diet Group:

This group received twice weekly dietary-specific text messages between 20-36 weeks of gestation, for a total of 30 motivating text messages, aimed at fostering healthy eating habits. What were the texts? 

Home Exercise Group:

Met with a trained physiotherapist once to learn the assigned exercises, then were given handouts to remind them, and asked to exercise on their own, at home, 2-3 times a week, from weeks 20-36, along with a daily 30-minute walk.

Supervised Exercise Group:

Same exercises as in the Home Exercise Group, but with the added benefit of 90 minute, once a week in-person supervised exercise sessions between weeks 20-36. Clients in this group were instructed to repeat the exercise program 2-3 additional times per week, as well as perform daily walks of 30-minutes, between in-person sessions.

Supervised Exercise Plus Diet Texts:

The Dream Team – a combination of supervised exercises and those motivating diet texts.

Unveiling Results and Insights

Ready to guess which group showed the best results in postpartum (fourth trimester) weight loss? You guessed it – the supervised exercise plus diet texts group. Following closely were the just-supervised-exercise group, the home exercise group, the just-diet-texts group, and lastly, the control group.

The study found that current medical standard, “tell people to eat healthy and exercise” had the LEAST POSITIVE EFFECT on Postpartum Weight Loss of all groups studied

Reflections on Personal Experiences

Pause for a moment and reflect on your prenatal or postpartum experience. Were you given more guidance than a generic "be active and stay healthy"? Unfortunately, many of us weren't. It's time to change that narrative.  Especially when literally ANYTHING in addition to “eat healthy and exercise” is more beneficial.

Taking Action – Dietary Tips for All

Considering the accessibility of supervised exercises, let's place our focus on the dietary side of things. Starting with the dietary tips, even just receiving those motivating messages led to a statistically significant increase in postpartum weight loss.

Initiating Change – An Automated Email Series

Exciting news – I'm in the process of developing an automated email series for Pelvic Floored. This series will send those motivating diet texts to everyone who chooses "prenatal" as their primary reason for joining the newsletter.  Newsletter subscribers will be notified when this is available, and this blog updated once it’s live. 

A Call to Action for Improved Postpartum Care

In conclusion, let's use the insights from this study to enhance our pregnancy or postpartum experience, as well as that of our friends and families. While not everyone has access to in-person supervised exercise, incorporating dietary tips is a positive step towards improving postpartum care globally, and while supervised exercise is best, carefully instructed exercise and wellness are close behind.

Online Wellness Programs, like Pelvic Floored, Are a Place to Start

If supervised exercises aren’t accessible to everyone, automated dietary emails/texts, and carefully constructed online fitness programs can make a big difference, and are 100% more effective than just telling some to “eat healthy and exercise.”  When folks are told the latter, there is actually ‘too many options’ for them to pick from, and too much conflicting information from non-trustworthy sources…so they do nothing.

Don’t do nothing.  At bare minimum, join my newsletter, or follow me on Instagram for reliable, up to date, wellness information, like this study :) 

If you’re postpartum, and ready to go further on this pelvic transformation journey, check out my Vag Lab for the condensed explanation, or The Signature Lecture Series for a more in-depth understanding of how your pelvic floor muscles might be contributing to various concerns. 

If you’re preggers, CONGRATULATIONS!  Signing up for my Pregnancy Course includes guided exercise programs by myself and Dr. Chrissy, another Board Certified Doctor of Physical Therapy in Pelvic Health AND a Cross Fit Level 2 Coach. 

Dr. Kelly’s Pregnancy Course is ALL THAT and a bag of kale chips!

You get:

  •  Guided Pregnancy Wellness information from TWO Doctors of Physical Therapy, with THREE Board Certifications and a Level 2 Cross Fit Coaching Certification between us!
  •  Weekly to bi-weekly e-mails with all the pregnancy diet and nutrition email advice that was found to lead to improved postpartum weight loss, as well as extra tidbits that Dr. Chrissy and I have found to be professionally and personally valuable.
  •  12 Streamable Workouts, with education on how to modify based on your trimester, and what you are feeling, to keep you moving during those important weeks 20-36 (and beyond!)
  •  >20 “evergreen” tips on how to manage pains or leaks if they arise during pregnancy (or ever), including stretches, exercises, and kinesiotape strategies to have your best pregnancy ever!
People Before Profits: If You Need Another Reason to Buy a Pelvic Floored Course

Here at Pelvic Floored, we’re ALL ABOUT changing the world, one pelvis at a time, and we respect that not everyone can afford Pelvic Physio, or even our online programs.  That’s why, for every four online courses sold, one is donated to someone in need through my People Before Profits Program. It's a win-win.

Here's to a healthy and empowered pregnancy AND postpartum experience!

Thanks for reading!

xoxo, Dr. Kelly

 

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