There are so many photos of celebrity mums on social media who have their tight toned tummies 5 minutes after giving birth, and that’s awesome, but that wasn’t me and even if we do look amazing, there could still be a lot going on inside.
Take the time to gradually and safely get back into exercise with our 6 top tips!
1. Your 6 week check.
Normally this is the first thing we as post-natal trainers ask – ‘have you had your 6 week check?’ Quickly followed by ‘What did they do/say?’ and it’s not uncommon for us to find out that they missed a lot. Only about 60% of my fitbuggies women has their split diastasis (abdominal separation) checked at their 6 week check. You need to know, what is your separation at? How many fingers? Is that all the way down or is it different for the top/bottom abdominals? Is it really deep? If you had stitches, did they check them? Are they healing ok? Do you have any residual epidural pain? (I did for quite a while).
Your midwife may not check this as they are only with you for the first few weeks but you can ask your doctor at your 6 week check. They are there to look after you as well as your baby. Also this will help us to ensure that the exercises you are doing are suitable for you.
2. Not so fast!
No pre and post-natal trainer will recommend running 10k’s and going to HIIT classes straight after giving birth. You gotta take it easy! Your body has been through a lot and there should be no pressure to lose your baby weight quickly. Start by walking with your baby in your pram for 20 minutes a day and build it up slowly. This will be a great foundation for when you move onto a planned workout. When you do progress your workouts remember that your body is still healing and recovering from pregnancy. I’m all for a getting hot and sweat in a workout and walking away from the gym all pumped, but make sure you do this safely. If you attend yoga and Pilates classes, remember that you may still have the hormone ‘relaxin’ in your body which can cause the muscles to lengthen longer than usual and can lead to injuries, so stay in your normal range of motion.
If you attend step, HIIT or an aerobic classes, make sure you take the lower impact options so that you don’t put any extra pressure on your pelvic floor until you are ready. Trust me on this…..which leads to my next tip of……
3. Don’t pee yourself!!
I didn’t do any pelvic floor exercises after my oldest was born and boy did I regret it. You can begin these straight away and they need no fancy fitness equipment. A great tip to ensure you practice them often is to set a reminder on your phone or even practice them randomly whilst watching X Factor. If you are struggling with incontinence, speak to a women’s health physio on how to ensure you are performing the exercises correctly.
4. Core blimey!
Abdominal separation (split-diastasis) is very common post-pregnancy as your abdominals separate during pregnancy to allow your baby to grow. As a general rule, you should avoid any exercise that works your abdominals like planks, sit ups and crunches. As well as core exercises, you should avoid any exercise that makes your stomach ‘dome’ (creates a rise down the middle line of the stomach). There are lots of modifications that can be made to every exercise so take it down a notch until you can perform the exercise safely.
5. Find a local post-natal class.
There are so many benefits of joining a post-natal fitness class. Not only can you workout under the guidance of a post-natal fitness expert, you can also meet and socialise with other like-minded mums. As well as being a cheaper alternative to one-to-one personal training sessions, you can also save on childcare costs by bringing your baby with you.
6. Speak to someone.
I always say that it takes 9 months to create a baby, so it can take 9 months to recover, but if you are concerned that your post-natal recovery is not progressing as you would hope, speak to someone. We are not offered extra post-natal services as standard on the NHS so if you feel something is not right or is uncomfortable, speak to your medical professional and push for more. Post-natal trainers are qualified in training post-natal women however it is not uncommon us refer an individual to a medical professional such as a doctor or women’s health physic.
Check out our website for FREE pre and post-natal exercise guides, tips and advice.
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You can contact Louise for any postnatal midwifery advice.