If you're pregnant or have recently had a child, if you feel overwhelmed with the task of motherhood or have low energy levels, this book can help. Dr. Sheri Lerner guides you through a God-focused program that is based on Body by God, developed by her husband, New York Times best-selling author, Dr. Ben Lerner. This nutrition, exercise, stress, and time management program can easily be tailored for your lifestyle.
In Bouncing Back from Pregnancy, you'll not only learn about fitness after the baby arrives but also what you can do during your pregnancy to help you bounce back more quickly.
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Bouncing Back from PregnancyThe BODY by GOD Plan for Getting Your Body and Life Back After Baby Arrives
By Dr. Sheri Lerner
Nelson BooksCopyright © 2007 Dr. Sheri Lerner
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe Body by God in Each Trimester
About a week after I became pregnant, I knew it. Even though the pregnancy test results were negative, my instincts were right. My body had already begun to change. For one thing, my breasts were tender immediately. That's a dead giveaway for many.
Thankfully I was healthy and very weight-conscious before I became pregnant. I had been a gymnast for thirteen years, so I was used to checking my weight every day. As an athlete, I was trained to be very attentive to my level of fitness. As a woman, I wanted to look good in my jeans. But as I saw my weight increasing, I feared I was going to feel fat forever, and I experienced an intense emotional struggle. I had great difficulty feeling good about myself.
Eventually I realized I had to set my sights on the end result. The fact that God was about to give me a gift of a child helped me through it, and for that, I knew that I could endure anything. I envisioned myself holding my baby, and in my mind I was fit and trim once again. I tried to keep in mind that my pregnancy, and all that came with it, was part of God's perfect plan for my life.
The First Trimester
For pregnant women, one of two things is going to happen 90 percent of the time: you're either going to be very, very tired, or very, very sick-or both! My first trimester was characterized by a deep fatigue. I had to learn a hard lesson right away: I had to allow myself that extra rest I desperately needed.
When I became pregnant, I had already been a chiropractor for thirteen years. I had a set schedule that worked very well for me. Pregnancy threw this schedule a curveball. My timetable had been pretty much my own to decide, with no one to interrupt or disrupt my life. I was used to rising at five every day in order to spend an hour with God before seeing patients. Soon after I became pregnant, the intense fatigue hit me, and I found I simply could not get out of bed in the morning to keep my appointment with God. I had to allow myself to sleep instead.
I had great difficulty accepting the fact that I needed more sleep than I had ever needed before! Add to that the guilt I felt in putting my physical needs ahead of my commitment to God, and you'll have some idea of the stress I was beginning to feel.
I finally realized that fatigue was part of pregnancy, and God knew all about it. I had to accept the fact that He had given me the responsibility to care for myself as my body nurtured the new life growing within me. That little life was His child, too, and I had to do my best for her! That was my assignment from God for that time in my life. Again, it was for then, not forever (although I did suspect my life would never be quite the same again!).
One day He explained it to me so that I could accept the change in my schedule: He had taken my life to a new level, and that necessitated change. He had given me an awesome responsibility, and I didn't need to feel guilty about accepting it. After all, He invented pregnancy in the first place, so He certainly understood what I was experiencing and my body's need for extra rest.
Of all the areas where I could cut back, I knew my personal time with God was not one of them. I needed Him more than ever before! For me, snatches of time spent with God worked well. I began to find minutes to spend with Him while I was working out, walking or running, and in between patients. That time I spent with Him in the first hours of the day was private and special for me, and I did not want to sacrifice it!
You may have heard of John and Charles Wesley, the founders of the Methodist movement in England during the eighteenth century. Their mother, Susannah Wesley, had seventeen children (yes, seventeen). When she needed time alone with God, there was nowhere she could go to be alone, so she simply sat down wherever she was and threw her apron skirt over her head! When the children saw her with the apron over her head, they knew she was spending time with God and they were not to disturb her. It worked!
Susannah was not only creative about getting time with God, she was also flexible. At the same time, she sacrificed doing other things in order to find that time with Him. She may not have finished the final load of laundry, swept the front porch, or dusted the living room. She made a conscious choice to eliminate one thing for something of more importance to her.
You, too, may find yourself sacrificing time in some areas of your life to make room for other more important areas during this period. It might mean working fewer hours, cleaning the house every other week instead of weekly, or watching less television daily so that you can go to bed an hour earlier than normal to read. You will find that your schedule requires some tweaking and changes during this time.
Once I relaxed about being so regimented in my spirit and schedule and realized that I didn't have to have a set hour's time to talk to God, I discovered a new closeness with Him. My spiritual life became one continual conversation with Him all day long, not just one hour in the morning. It was great!
Even though I seemed to experience just a great deal of fatigue, many of my friends experienced morning sickness and a heightened sense of smell. Smells that they were totally used to suddenly made them run to the bathroom. While there is no cure-all prescription for morning sickness, there are several potential remedies.
First, keep saltines and club soda by your bedside all the time, and eat frequent small meals instead of fewer larger ones. Wristbands designed to prevent seasickness also seem to be helpful. There is a formula made for babies with upset tummies called Gripes Water. This water is safe to use while pregnant and contains ginger, a known natural remedy for helping an upset stomach. Walking and fresh air seem to help the most. If none of these help you, seek the assistance of your health-care provider, who might be able to prescribe an alternative that better suits your personal situation.
Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. -Matthew 11:28
The Second Trimester
During my second trimester, I was still experiencing fatigue but had learned some coping skills. Then my body changes started to become very obvious. I remember attending a business conference with my husband when I was six months pregnant. The conference was held on a cruise ship, and the climate was warm. I wanted to go swimming like everyone else, so I pulled on my bathing suit and then looked in the mirror. It wasn't just one mirror; the room was all mirrors! Every wall and even the ceiling were mirrored! To add to the confusion, the light was different from the light in our home, so nothing looked quite right to me.
I hadn't had a bathing suit on in months, and when I saw myself, I was horrified. It ruined my whole trip. I thought that was the way I really looked. Once I arrived at home, I looked in the mirror and got a completely different perspective. It wasn't nearly as bad as it had looked on that ship! I don't know if the problem was in the ship's mirrors or not, but I do know that your perception of how you look is skewed while you're pregnant. I'm happy to tell you, skewed perception will go away (unless you had it before you were pregnant!).
Once I accepted that I didn't look like the whale I saw in the mirror, I began to enjoy my new belly, knowing that there was a magnificent life growing inside of me. The more I focused on the gift God was giving me, and the more I began to feel Nicole move, the more I began to enjoy my pregnancy. No matter what I looked like, I knew it was only temporary. My responsibility was to do everything I could to take care of the baby.
For the first four weeks of my second trimester, I was able to do the same workout I had maintained for the first trimester. At that point I was running twelve miles a day. (Don't beat yourself up! I was a distance runner and a longtime gymnast!) In the fifth week of my second trimester, I cut back my routine dramatically due to my next and biggest challenge: my small bladder. This wasn't a good thing for my workouts! I could run only two or three miles before I had to head back home. It wasn't long before I had to give up running entirely-except to the bathroom every five minutes.
Not running was a big adjustment for me. I also stopped working at my chiropractic office, which was another huge adjustment. This gave me a lot more time to rest, which I needed, but the changes in my schedule were difficult. I knew, however, that it was important that I do the right thing for my health and the health of my baby, and my body was telling me that was it.
Your body will give you signals as to what it needs during this time, but some of those signals might be vague and hard to interpret. This is a time when you need to pay extra attention to how you feel. Many of these feelings will be normal, such as if you are tired, you most likely just need rest. Yet anytime that you experience a feeling that is not normal, such as dizziness, a rapid heartbeat, or shortness of breath, stop and examine the possible reason for it. If you can't put your finger on what is causing this reaction, check with your health-care provider. It makes sense to err on the side of caution.
No One Understands What I'm Going Through!
There's a first time for everything. But for Eve, the first mother, everything was a first! Can you imagine how she must have felt when she began to gain weight, her belly started expanding, and her moods began going up and down like a yo-yo? To make it worse, she had absolutely no one to talk to who understood what she was going through. Adam certainly was no help. Eve was the founding member of the first women's club: SPW- the Society of Pregnant Women. She blazed the trail that the rest of us follow.
Only one person understood what Eve was experiencing as she watched her body change to accommodate the new life within her-only one person who could give her advice. Only one person who could truly say, "I know you'll do fine. I'll be right there with you, every step of the way." That was God. When it comes right down to it, it's you and God. The prophet Jeremiah referred to Him as Elohim Mikarov, translated "the God who is near" (Jeremiah 23:23 KJV): "Am I a God at hand, saith the LORD, and not a God afar off?" Of course He is! What a comfort!
Because He is God, He knows what a woman experiences when she is pregnant. Because He is God, He cannot break His promise, and He has promised to be near you at all times, whether you think you need Him or not. Who better to watch over that new life growing within you than the God who created it in the first place? Because He is God, you can trust Him to get you through anything and everything that goes along with pregnancy. He knows you love your child already. He loves that baby too. He has provided everything you need, and He will see you through everything to come.
God created Eve perfectly. She had everything she needed to be the world's first mother. He gave her the physical organs to get pregnant and give birth, the stamina to face it all, and the instincts to be a great mother. Did Eve know she had all these resources available to her? How could she, since no one had been through a pregnancy before? She didn't even know what she would need. But God knew, and He provided it for her in advance.
He also provided Eve with a body that would bounce back after the baby arrived. Eve must have worried when her belly began to swell. She must have been shocked at the changes in herself, including the fatigue and morning sickness. Swollen ankles, inability to sleep, back pain, varicose veins-Eve must have hated it all. What kept her going was the knowledge that God had it all planned, and she trusted Him to be with her through it.
While she was waiting for the birth of her baby, Eve had no books to read to learn how to take care of herself. Most likely she maintained her active lifestyle as much as possible, and that helped her feel better. She helped Adam tend their garden, she ate properly, and she walked and enjoyed swimming for exercise. She made sure she took care of herself and the baby growing inside her. She did everything right ... instinctively.
When Cain was born, no one was more amazed than Eve-except Adam. Remember that no one had ever seen a baby before! Cain was the first one ever born. This was all new ground for the first set of parents, and they both knew they were totally dependent on God for wisdom in raising their child and helping him come to know God. I think that for Eve, holding that beautiful little boy made all the problems of pregnancy disappear from memory, and the joy of having her son made it worth everything she had endured. -Scripture reference: Genesis 2:18-4:1
* * *
The Third Trimester
As I entered my third trimester, my small frame began to rapidly gain weight, and my self-image was beginning to warp once again. My attitude toward my body surprised me because when I look at a pregnant woman, I think how wonderfully beautiful she is. I believe most people see a pregnant woman in this light.
Unfortunately, I didn't feel the same way about my pregnant body. It was a big challenge for me. Deposits of cellulite that appeared out of nowhere contributed to the poor image I had of my body, and therefore, of myself as a person. Cottage cheese everywhere! Along with this came the aches and pains in my muscles and joints. I knew part of this was because my hips were widening to prepare my body for delivering the baby. Added to this were the frequent bathroom trips, swollen ankles, and more fatigue.
I was tired of being pregnant and ready to go into labor. I prayed that the day would be soon and that God would deliver a healthy child. He did. On February 14, Valentine's Day, Nicole was born.
Chiropractic Care Can Help
I believe that it is extremely important, to both you and your baby, that you receive regular chiropractic care through your entire pregnancy. I don't say that just because I'm a chiropractor. In our practices, both my husband and I have observed the difference it makes with our pregnant patients. The ones who receive regular chiropractic care seem to have easier and quicker deliveries.
For example, I had one patient who came in after the birth of her first child. She had experienced severe sciatic pain while she was pregnant. During the birth she suffered a large vaginal tear and many, many hours of labor in delivery. After the birth, the sciatic pain didn't go away, so she came to me as a patient. She improved dramatically over the period of a year, and then she became pregnant again.
That time, however, she continued her regular chiropractic treatments, and she had no sciatic pain. We all were wondering how the delivery was going to be for her the second time around. Her baby was heavier by one-and-a-half pounds than the first one, and she delivered very quickly and easily-with no tear. Chiropractic care had definitely made a difference, and there are several reasons why.
First, the nerves that control the reproductive system and hormonal balance come from the lower part of the spine. When these nerves are free of interference, the reproductive organs work properly, and they produce the appropriate amount of hormones your body needs to keep you in balance; this will aid in your baby's development.
Second, getting adjusted makes sure that the pelvis is balanced, which allows for proper movement of the fetus. It aids in the baby's ability to turn and allows for easier separation of the pelvis during delivery.
Finally, if your baby is breach, there is a turning technique that is a noninvasive and painless adjustment. I have personally performed this technique on some of my clients and within just a few adjustments, the baby turned.
Excerpted from Bouncing Back from Pregnancy by Dr. Sheri Lerner Copyright © 2007 by Dr. Sheri Lerner. Excerpted by permission.
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