Post Natal Exercise: Getting back to you.
I'm Cat, and I'm a new mum.
I have worked at The Hogarth since 2011. I met my husband here and last year we were lucky enough to become parents to a healthy, happy little Hogarth boy! Having specialised in pre and post-natal exercise before becoming pregnant, it was time for me to put into practice what I had been teaching.
I am a true believer in exercise not only for the physical benefits but also for the mental benefits too. Having a baby and becoming a parent is the best job but also one of the hardest, and making a little time for you to focus on your health and wellbeing can do wonders for your journey throughout motherhood.
When should I start exercising?
The recommended guidelines suggest you can start exercising six weeks after a vaginal birth and ten weeks after a caesarean, but this is completely up to you and how you feel. Personally, it took three months to have the confidence to start Pilates based exercises and walking at a faster pace with the pushchair. The guidelines don't take into account your labour story so remember to set realistic goals and be kind to yourself! There will be days where it is best to nap when your baby naps instead of contemplating any sort of exercise, at least for the first few months!
What sort of exercises should I start with?
Pelvic floor, pelvic floor, pelvic floor!
Your pelvic floor muscles act like a hammock to support your baby, and they take a while to recover. Focus on the main areas that have seen a lot of change, for example your hips, glutes, back and pelvic core, keeping all exercises low impact. You still have the hormone relaxin in your body, so be careful with any weight training and stretching.
To begin with even getting to the gym is an achievement so well done there! Start your workout with gentle cardio to raise your heart rate and encourage the release of those important endorphins. This will help you deal with any new anxieties you may be feeling and dealing with that day.
Good pelvic floor exercises include pelvic tilts, bridges, half-planks, and bird-dogs.
I cannot tell you how much exercise helped not only my recovery but also my mental health. Exercise was the time I had for me, even if just for 30 minutes. It was my chance to look after my body and my mind and to begin feeling strong again.
SQUAT WITH BAND
What do I need to be careful of?
Make sure you get the all clear from your doctor at your six-week check-up before considering heading back to the gym. Rushing back could cause more damage than good, especially if you had a difficult labour and birth.
If you are breast feeding, feed your baby before heading to the gym! There’s nothing worse than a full and painful chest on the cross-trainer!
Be careful of any classes or exercises that involve high impact movements. Your pelvic floor has just gone under tremendous strain, stick to low impact exercises to begin with.
How can I lose weight after having a baby?
Eating well after having a baby can be tough when you are in a constant cycle of feeding, changing, winding and nap time. Make sure you have a large jug of water by you at all times, especially if you are breast feeding as feeding can leave you dehydrated and incredibly thirsty. You can burn around 400-500 calories a day producing milk!
Try to snack throughout the day on nutrient rich foods. I would make homemade healthy flapjacks and smoothies as I needed the slow releasing carbohydrates and something that was easy to eat when only using one hand!
Try not to skip meals; make sure all your visitors bring food round for you to either store in the freezer or to eat that day!
Do not diet. Restricting calories when you are sleep deprived and exhausted is not a good idea. Try to make healthy choices; eating three meals a day will help you have the energy to get through the day with a new born; Happy Mum, happy Baby.
When can I start doing sit ups?
During pregnancy to make way for your growing baby your stomach stretches causing the two parallel bands of muscles to separate, a condition called diastasis recti. It is important not to rush into stomach crunches until the gap is a one finger gap and there are no signs of doming when forming a crunch. Get either the GP, a partner, ask a personal trainer or even check yourself. In the meantime stick to pelvic floor tilts, half planks and gentle leg raises, slowly building your core back up. Remember to be kind to yourself, you will recover but your body has just made a little human it needs time, you will get there. Personally it took me a year to feel like me again, I now have the confidence to continue exercising how I did pre baby, minus any skipping or jumping!!
I am proud of my body and so should you be, making a little human is incredible, let’s celebrate our bodies and criticise less.
See you in the gym!