The big questions for mums who have recently had a baby are “how do I get back into shape”? And then there’s, when do I start? How much exercising is allowed? Is my body going to heal well when I start my exercise routine?….These are just three of a hundred questions new mums might have. I am no expert in this field, so I thought I’ll get someone to answer these questions. She has been a personal trainer and a Pilates instructor that has helped many mums ease back into exercising after a baby, by showing us 3 ways to do them.
Please bear in mind you must first consult your doctor first to see if your body is ready to start any workout routine.
So, here’s Laura Arndt for you!
As a personal trainer and Pilates instructor for over a decade, I have helped hundreds of women stay healthy throughout their pregnancy and adjust back into exercise during the postpartum period. So many women can be desperate to fit back into their pre-baby jeans, they forget all of the hormonal and muscular changes occurring during this phase of their life. It doesn’t help that once cleared for exercise by their medical professional, many women are given no additional tips or guidance on how to properly rehabilitate their bodies. I created my new company and app Matriarc to help all women heal their mind and bodies after delivery, and I’ll share my top 3 tips for easing back into exercise below.
- Stretch. As simple as this seems, gestational weight gain in the chest and abdomen leave many women with a hunched over feeling, causing stiffness and pain in the upper body, shoulders, and lower back. Taking some time to improve your flexibility and range of motion can go a long way towards improving your posture, balance and decreasing muscle tension throughout your entire body. My favorite stretches are Runners Lunge, Cat-cow, Threading the needle, Childs pose, and Side child pose. If you’re unable to get down on the ground, Cross Body Arm Stretch, Shoulder Rolls, Neck Rolls and a Wide Leg Forward Bend can achieve similar results. Hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds as you work your way through all your problem areas.
- Focus on core and pelvic floor work. After delivery, your abdominals and pelvic floor are damaged, stretched and possibly torn. After allowing adequate resting time (6 weeks for non-complicated pregnancies), simple exercises to rebuild strength will help support your lower back and decrease your chances of pelvic organ prolapse. During the first 6 months postpartum it’s best to avoid exercises that build abdominal pressure like crunches and planks and instead focus on your transverse abdominals, lower back, and obliques. This is especially true if you experience Recti Diastases. Pelvic tilts, Bridges, Reverse Marching, Dead Bug Crunch and Bird Dogs are some of my favorite moves for new moms. You can do each move for 1 minute and repeat as often as you like.
- Stick to low impact cardiovascular exercise. Relaxin, a hormone that loosens ligaments in your hips and pelvic floor to aid in delivery can stay elevated for up to a year postpartum. Some studies suggest elevated levels as long as a woman is nursing. This means you’re more susceptible to injury postpartum from high impact exercise, and fast running and jumping should be avoided in the first few months post delivery. Sticking to ellipticals, swimming, cycling, and walking and building up to more intense exercise (as you continue to strengthen your pelvic floor) is the best way to avoid lower back pain and injury. Allow your body time to heal and know that eventually, you will be able to return to your pre-pregnancy workout routine, but it won’t happen overnight.
And there you have it! Your 3 tips on how to start exercising after a baby. Remember, as with everything you reach results slowly. It’s important not to push yourself beyond how much your body can handle. Take it at a slow pace, but make sure you stay motivated! You’ve got this!
Got a question? Leave them in the comments and I’ll be happy to answer them.