The human body is so amazing and the changes the body undergoes during pregnancy are fascinating. Skin and tissues (including muscle) are elastic, much like rubber bands. When the integrity of a rubber band is solid and strong, it can be stretched for a period of time but will return back to its resting length once tension is no longer applied. If the rubber band is really old or has been kept in a stretched position for too long, the elasticity has been compromised and it will often remain stretched after there is no longer any tension being applied.
Many times when one loses a lot of weight after years of being overweight there will be some loose skin. Similarly, some women experience loose abdominals after pregnancy, giving her the appearance of still being pregnant. Delivering a baby is challenging enough without the fear of losing your pre-baby body. Your hormones are elevated, physiologically your body is experiencing major changes, and your whole lifestyle is rearranged once this new life emerges.
Women who exercise regularly before, during, and after pregnancy are significantly more likely to return quickly to their pre-pregnancy body. Women who lift weights are strong so their muscles and connective tissue are naturally encouraged to return back to their original resting length with ease. Regular exercise helps to encourage those muscles to remain elastic and strong.
A friend of mine was 35 when she delivered her daughter. Just four months after delivery, she had visible abdominal muscles. It could easily be argued that a 25 year old would have visible abs after delivering; this example shows that age doesn’t necessarily dictate pregnancy outcomes. She lifted weights regularly long before she became pregnant and continued that practice throughout her pregnancy. Six weeks postpartum she returned to regular weight lifting and has since continued.
Heather has always been a fit person so it didn’t surprise me that she looked amazing as soon as she delivered, but the fact that her abdominal muscles were visible only four months after delivery illustrates the impact exercise has. The body is pushed to extreme limits during pregnancy. The knowledge that you have some control is very exciting and encouraging for all women who know they want to become mothers in the future.
The absolute best advice I can give to any woman who knows she wants a family someday or who is currently pregnant, is to begin exercising as soon as you can! Do not put it off and if you have trouble motivating yourself or need guidance concerning appropriate exercise selection, invest in yourself and work with a coach who you feel connected to because it will change your whole life in many ways, including ways you never expected.