After the whirlwind of transitioning from being a pregnant woman to becoming a mum passes by, you may be looking at what you can do to get back into your exercise routine. For some of you it may have already been a big part of your weekly routine. And for others it may be a case of just trying to get out for a walk for some fresh air.
But whatever your prenatal fitness plan looked like before, we have some tips for you to help build health and fitness back into your daily routine.
It is worth noting that these are generic tips and they may not apply to you. Depending upon how active you were before and during pregnancy, how your labour and birth went, what type of delivery you had. Along with multiple other considerations that come with a return to exercise.
What we do recommend to all of our clients is, if you can, go and visit a good Women's Health Physio (WHP). They are worth their weight in gold and can help make an initial assessment on what state your body is in after delivery. They will be able to check your core and pelvic floor function, ensuring everything is moving in the right direction towards making you a strong mama!
That early phase of postpartum recovery from day 1 to week 4, getting out and getting your daily steps in is a fantastic way of getting yourself back to fitness. The average daily step count is around 5,400 steps, which may not seem like much but it is so easy to not move. Especially trying to navigate naps, feeding, cleaning and changing.
All of that while potentially running on a lack of sleep leads to limited movement. So if you can, try to use nap times as a great way to get the little one to sleep in the buggy while you get your daily step count up.
2. Core connection
This is where the WHP comes into play, they will be able to help work with you to improve your core function when it comes to breathing and pelvic floor work. Throughout pregnancy multiple muscles get shortened. Which can lead to limited movement in the rib cage and this can affect your ability to breathe properly.
You should get an expansion of the ribs and tummy as you fill the lungs with air, this will then help stretch the pelvic floor too. When you exhale you want to try to fully empty the lungs and then perform your Kegel at the end of the breath.
It may take time to get used to the feeling and getting control over the pelvic floor work. But there is a lot more to it than just trying to squeeze like you're holding in a wee. Speak to your WHP or a specialist pre and postnatal PT who can assist you on improving your Kegel work.
The end goal is to get you performing your Kegel, with your exercises so you get ready for the day to day demands of motherhood.
3. Nourishment not punishment
The need to “snap back” after giving birth needs to go. The 4th trimester is punishing enough without you feeling the need to diet. You body has just been through an incredible journey. It is trying to heal and recover, while trying to provide food for your little one and the absolute last thing it needs is a calorie restriction.
Take the time to find nourishing meals, full of protein, vegetables and healthy fats.
Try to batch cook, use a food delivery service from time to time or one of our favourite tips. When you have friends and relatives looking to come over to visit you and the baby, ask them to bring a meal over for you. You have enough things on your plate, the least your nearest and dearest could do is make a homemade meal to give you the night off.
If you are ever going to be demanding, this is the period to do it!
Such a simple one and this links into the point above about nourishing your body. You need water to function, try not to forget about drinking it.
Or try not to replace water intake with 5 flat whites, as tempting as it is!
Keep a bottle with you at all times and keep it topped up. If you need some inspiration for water consumption look at finding some infusion recipes where you add fruit and herbs to flavour the water.
I have left this to last as it should be the final thing you think about on your return to exercise. Take the time to get the foundations of daily steps, as much rest/sleep as possible, good nutrition and great core function.
You will also need to ease back into your exercises, I tend to start to introduce simple body weight exercises around week 4. Things you can do at home, squats, lunges, wall press ups. Then from week 6 adding some extra bits like light resistance band exercises and TRX suspension training.
It then builds up from there but be careful not to jump in too fast as there is still a big stage. Even after you have had your 6 week check up where you can do more damage than good with your body. Especially if you had a C-section.
Again though, seek help from a specialist pre and post natal PT who will be able to guide you safely through your return to exercise.
Ben is the head personal trainer at London Fitness Mamas, he has over 14 years experience working to simplify fitness and nutrition for mums and mums to be.
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