Your Baby, Your Body
Dr. Arelis Figueroa, a Touro Infirmary obstetrician and gynecologist, supports her patients through pregnancy and beyond, helping new moms establish healthy practices that benefit their families. A native of Puerto Rico, she speaks Spanish and English, working with patients whose language barriers might have otherwise kept them from getting care.
January 7th, 2015 by: Touro Infirmary Hospital
She chose her field because it allows her to be present for so much of her patients’ lives. “When I did my rotation in gynecology, I found it absolutely amazing that you can be involved in someone’s life not only from the moment of childbearing — but seeing their first cycles as a teenager all the way through menopause,” she says. Below, she provides several ways for women to balance post-partum fitness with busy schedules.
GIVE YOUR BODY WHAT IT NEEDS
“I think nutrition and diet are very important after delivery, just to get your body back on track,” Dr. Figueroa says. “Decreasing sodium intake and fat intake, and replacing these with fiber, and fruit and vegetables, can certainly be beneficial for any patient — but especially post-partum patients.”
DRINK LOTS OF WATER
Along with simply being good for your body, adequate hydration eases milk production (which burns calories). “Breastfeeding is not for everybody,” Dr. Figueroa says; however, it can be “absolutely amazing for getting back to pre-pregnancy weight.”
DON'T OVERTAX YOUR BODY
Ready to begin exercising? If you weren’t especially physically active before your pregnancy, start with a slow walk. “Take a little bit of time,” Dr. Figueroa says. “It doesn’t have to be that much.” She suggests walking, swimming, biking and low-impact sports to ease new moms back into activity.
WHEN WALKING BRING THE BABY
One of the benefits of walking around is that you get some fresh air and expose the baby to a little bit of sunlight,” she says.
RE-STRENGTHEN PELVIC MUSCLES
“When we’re pregnant, the muscles stretch out — not just in the abdominal area,” Dr. Figueroa says. “You have to get back the strength in those muscles.” She recommends core exercises to strengthen abdominal muscles and Kegel exercises — which can be done during regular daily activities, including walking or driving — to strengthen pelvic muscles.
JOIN A GROUP
“Look at local gyms,” Dr. Figueroa suggests. “There are even some yoga classes that can incorporate the baby.” Or, consider joining other new moms for a weekly workout. “Make a group yourself, or find an established group of women to try to get active,” she says.
PRIORITIZE YOUR MENTAL HEALTH
Though it can be tough to slip away when you need to feed your baby every two hours, it’s important to find time for yourself. “Don’t forget about making sure you’re rested and relaxed,” Dr. Figueroa says. “Be mindful that if people offer you help, you can definitely use those resources.”
PICK ONE BOOK TO BACK YOU UP
“There are a lot of books and a lot of research out there to guide you — for example, for the first year after delivery,” Dr. Figueroa says. “I always encourage my patients to find a book and stick with
it.” She suggests looking at the recommended accredited book list of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, available at acog.org.