Post Natal Fitness Advice

Firstly, congratulations on the birth of your baby!

The fact you are reading this page means that you are obviously keen to start exercising again following the birth of your baby or are about to embark on an exercise programme for the first time.

Please take a few moments to think rationally and sensibly about what you are about to do.  The first 6 weeks after the birth of your child are the most challenging and demanding for the new mother and a time when you will undoubtedly be sleep deprived.

Instead of trying to rush out to the gym whilst your baby is sleeping and there is somebody else to look after them, it is more important that you take time for yourself and catch up on some of that much needed sleep.  If you try to exercise when you are exhausted, you will be much more prone to injure yourself.

How Soon Can I Start Exercising?

This will depend on whether you have had a vaginal delivery or a caesarean.  With a vaginal delivery, most obstetricians will encourage you to do gentle pelvic floor and deep abdominal exercises as soon as you feel ready and only start to exercise more vigorously after your 6 week check.  If you stopped exercising whilst you were pregnant or you are new to exercise, you should wait until after your 6 week check before doing anything vigorous.

The advice following a caesarean is to start doing pelvic floor and deep abdominal exercise around the 6 week mark and then gradually start including more vigorous exercise after 10-12 weeks.  It is important to start gently and do not expect to return to your pre-pregnancy fitness levels immediately.

What Exercise Should I Be Doing?

The easiest way to start is to go out walking with your baby in the pram.  Try to remember your pre-pregnancy posture, of pelvis in the neutral position and chest forwards and up, and maintain this whilst walking.  This will start to tone-up your abdominal muscles.

It is also wise to try repeatedly squeezing your pelvic floor muscles for a few seconds and release again throughout your walk.  This will help to prevent urinary incontinence which is very common with post-natal exercise.

Pushing the pram up hills will also help to tone up your arms, especially those “bingo wings”.

By going for a 10-15 minute walk every day, you will soon notice your fitness levels improving.

Cycling and horse riding are big NO’s if you have had an episiotomy and swimming is not recommended in the first few weeks due to increased risk of infection.

Calorie Counting?

I know you will be anxious to lose all your baby weight as soon as possible, but I suggest you ignore any celebrities boasting about getting their pre-baby figure back in 6 weeks – this is unrealistic and unhealthy.  For the last 9 months, your baby has been developing inside you sharing your nutrients, which may have led to you being nutritionally deprived for a while after the birth.  Depriving yourself of a healthy balanced diet at this point could be detrimental to your well-being and therefore that of your baby.

This is even more critical if you are breastfeeding.  You cannot expect to provide your baby with all the required nutrients if you are depriving yourself of food.  You may need as many daily calories whilst you are breastfeeding as if you were running a marathon!

If you are breastfeeding and have started exercising again, it is important that you replace the calories you will be burning from the exercise.  A combination of sensible eating together with moderate exercise is the key to losing weight the healthy way.

Be Aware of the Following:

Rectus abdominus diastasis is where your abdominal muscles separate in the middle as a result of being overstretched during pregnancy.  Most women have a gap of 2 finger widths whilst pregnant and for the first couple of weeks after giving birth.  Anything wider than this which has not healed within 3 weeks of birth will require you to start pelvic floor and deep abdominal training (suggest you speak to your Personal Fitness CoachJ)

What Are Deep Abdominals?

Most women know about their pelvic floor muscles which are contracted to stop yourself from peeing.  The pelvic floor and deep abdominal muscles go hand in hand.

The deep abdominals are known as the transversus abdominus muscles that lie deeper than the superficial muscles known as the 6-pack (rectus abdominus).  When the rectus abdominal muscles contract, they cause you to flex your back (ie sit ups).  When your transversus abdominus muscles contract, they work to stabilise and protect the spine.  They are designed to be constantly working as you move to support the loser back and pelvis.  They are designed for endurance, which needs to be rebuilt following birth.

Sit ups and crunches are NOT the way to work the deep abdominals.

Having a baby to look after, whilst trying to deal with hormones, sleep deprivation and trying to keep a good relationship with your partner is very difficult and can lead some women to feel particularly low.  The endorphin release from exercise may be the one thing that gets you through this difficult time.  It also gives you time for yourself and allows you t escape for a while.

Post-natal exercise give you the normal cardiovascular benefits that come from regular exercise, the endorphin release for that ‘feel goo’ factor and a toned body.  What’s holding you back?????

Banish your
SUGAR CRAVINGS
in 4 Weeks



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