Anita Levin is a rad lady. She’s been a practicing obstetrician and gynecologist for almost 30 years (you wouldn’t believe that was possible if you met her) and is currently a partner at the Women’s Group of Northwestern and a Clinical Instructor at Northwestern Medical School working out of Prentice Women’s Hospital. In deciding who to interview to receive a doctor’s perspective on how exercise can help pregnancy and postpartum life, Anita, a fit mama herself, seemed like the perfect, well, fit:
Mama Method: Anita, why do you recommend prenatal exercise?
Anita: Prenatal exercise helps a woman feel strong and healthy as her body makes dramatic and rapid changes. Pregnancy hormones often make women feel sluggish and uncomfortable, particularly in their first and third trimester, so exercise can help to alleviate some of these feelings. Labor is often a lengthy, tiring process and I have found that women who exercise have better stamina in the delivery room. In addition, pushing requires regulated breathing and extreme effort using full body muscles to maximize and shorten this stage of labor. My fit clients find this process challenging but are better prepared to work with their medical providers.
MM: Who should be particularly cognizant of exercise limitations throughout pregnancy?
Anita: Some women with medial conditions such as high blood pressure or heart disease might be advised to limit their activities. In addition, pregnancies with complications like bleeding, preterm labor and twins also may be told to limit their activities. All women must check with their providers to be sure that exercise is safe for them during their pregnancy.
MM: What about getting back into an exercise regimen post birth and healing?
Anita: Postpartum, even women who have carefully monitored their weight gain, will find many new body changes. In the first 6 weeks, women are not encouraged to resume a formal exercise program. After evaluation from their medical provider, women can find exercise helps to reduce some of the stress and fatigue that a newborn can bring. In addition, many new moms suffer from low back pain which stretching and exercise can help reduce.
MM: You make the time to prioritize your health and fitness. That must be inspiring for your patients!
Anita: Yes, despite almost 30 years in practice and raising 3 beautiful children, I continue to make time each day to work out. This is something that I discuss with my all of my patients, urging them to be fit for themselves and as role models for their children.
the mama method