Ever since I was a young adult, old enough to know and care about the birds and the bees, I have known that as you get older, the chances of having a baby decreases. And 35 has always been the golden age I have heard about, after which time, the chances of conceiving decrease dramatically.
A new study, however, says that 35 isn't the scary age once thought, that women in fact have at least five more decent childbearing years before they need to be concerned that their fertile days are dwindling.
Not only that, this recent study let out the little known secret that we have been basing our perceptions of fertility on studies that are older our great-grandparent's great-grandparents.
As reported in New York Magazine's The Cut:
"Someone more qualified to parse fertility studies than your average journalist (and who happened to have three children after 35) went back to look at the data and found the baby panic 'is based largely on questionable data.' Writing in the Atlantic, San Diego State University psychology professor Jean Twenge says the widely cited figure that one in three women ages 35 to 39 will not be pregnant after a year of trying is based on French birth records from 1670 to 1830. 'In other words, millions of women are being told when to get pregnant based on statistics from a time before electricity, antibiotics, or fertility treatment,' she writes."
Related: 10 Surprising Facts About Pregnancy
So, in other words, it's not that there has been some Earth-shattering breakthrough. Apparently we just heard the stats from hundreds of years ago and have been unknowingly referring back to them for generations upon generations.
The bad news is that we have been feeling that biological tick faster than necessary for centuries. The good news is that now we can fend off nagging would-be grandmothers that putting our career first for a bit longer won't be the risk to my future family that we once thought.
Written by Leslie Kennedy for BabyPost.com
Underneath the bulge of your “mummy tummy” is an unstable core and a weak pelvic floor, compromised by pregnancy and birth, says Wendy. If you have diastasis recti (abdominal separation), that is a symptom of excessive intra abdominal pressure, pushing everything downwards and outwards. You need to understand these problems and be careful to reduce that pressure and heal your body first before attempting any exercise that could make this weakness worse. No amount of dieting, running, sit-ups or Pilates classes will flatten your tummy and tone your pelvic floor unless you have re-built the foundations first
Don’t launch into any fitness plan until you are at least 6 weeks post partum. During the initial period of healing, you can help your body’s natural repair process by simple, gentle movements, says Wendy.
According to Caroline, pelvic tilts are the answer to this perennial problem. Your back has been under tremendous stress carrying the baby and going through the birth, she explains. To ease out your lower spine, lie on your back with your knees bent and on an exhale breath, press your lower back into the floor. Do this 10 times in time with your breath, and squeeze your pelvic floor muscles and tummy muscles in at the same time
Try postnatal yoga, suggests Caroline. Exercises such as the cobra are fabulous for counteracting round shoulders (from breast feeding and carrying baby). Lie on your tummy with your hands flat on the floor under your shoulders and then use your upper back muscles to lift your head, neck and shoulders up off the floor. Build up gradually to hold for several breaths.
Don’t *exercise* them, just *find* them, says Wendy. Gently draw your belly button towards your spine on a long slow exhale whilst lifting your pelvic floor. Try to think of the pelvic floor contraction not as a squeeze at the front, but a deep lift, right in the middle. Keep shoulders and chest relaxed. Take a few deep breaths like this whenever you remember, relaxing everything as you inhale, then contracting again as you exhale. Don’t push away on the inhale, just let go.
Go for a daily walk if you can manage it, which will get your circulation going, important for helping your body to repair your weakened core muscles, including your abs and pelvic floor, says Wendy. Caroline agrees: Most babies love the motion of the pram, and going for a brisk 30-40 minute walk every day will really help the weight come off. Make sure that you draw your tummy muscles in and keep your shoulders pulled back as you walk, and take plenty of water to stay hydrated.
If you're struggling from increase rib/chest size, Caroline suggests doing Pilates controlled curls, roll-ups and oblique crunches Curl your head & shoulders off the floor and then twist one shoulder towards the opposite knee as you exhale. The breath is very important, so make sure you feel your ribs closing down as you breathe out)
6-8 weeks after having your baby, with your GP’s all clear, you can gradually start to increase your levels of activity. Helpful exercises for flatter abs and a stronger core include stretches, squats, lunges and twists, but you must learn to engage your core muscles correctly in order to make these exercises also work your core, says Wendy. This takes as much mental focus as physical at first, but it is important to exercise your core dynamically and mindfully.
Any exercise that positions your body like a jack knife is ‘out’ for mums. As you crunch, you increase intra abdominal pressure, exacerbating weakness in the midline, re-opening the diastasis recti or ‘gap’ in the middle of the rectus abdominis and pushing forcibly downwards on your pelvic floor, says Wendy.
If you're struggling with wider hips (than before) Caroline suggests lying on your side and with your top leg straight out and lift and lower that leg 20 times keeping your hips and waist still. Follow this with 12 circles in each direction
Kegels involve repeatedly contracting the muscles that form one part of the pelvic floor. The idea is to get your pelvic muscles to contract your urethra, while your stomach or buttocks muscles are at ease, says Wendy. These exercises have been traditionally recommended as a treatment for pelvic floor weakness, stress incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse. There is a place for isolated exercise such as these, but they are not even close to the full answer, in my view. They may tighten your pelvic floor muscles, but do little to strengthen them, or help them do their job properly. In fact, being too tight (just like being too saggy) prevents the pelvic floor from effectively supporting your bladder, uterus and bowel. To improve function, it’s much better to do a variety of exercises that work your entire core system with correct muscle engagement, getting it to work dynamically, toning and strengthening it.
Improving the way you hold your body is key to reducing the intra abdominal pressure that causes a weak pelvic floor and diastasis recti, says Wendy. The most important thing you can do is get out of heeled shoes –choose completely flat, or barefoot shoes. The next step is to un-tuck your butt, find your neutral spine, and make sure your hip bones are stacked directly over your pubic bone, with no pelvic tilt forward, or backward. Stop sitting on your tailbone (sit up on your sit bones!), keep in good alignment as you move around and walk and your pelvic floor will naturally start to do its job more effectively.
To get this hammock of muscles working as it should, I suggest a combination of adjusting alignment as above, connecting with and engaging all core muscles, and working them dynamically with squats, lunges, stretches and resistance exercises, says Wendy. Exercises that involve abduction and adduction against resistance – that’s moving your legs apart or squeezing them together, while pushing against something for resistance are hugely effective. In your exercise program, instability and vibration are helpful in toning the pelvic floor. Using a Swiss ball or Bosu as you get stronger and more stable, will give your pelvic floor an extra challenge.
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