1. GIVE YOUR SELF TIME TO HEAL
Wait until you have had your 6 week OB/doctor post-natal check as well as a visit to a women’s health physio before you hit the gym or start your exercise routine. At your OB check up ask the doctor for clearance to start exercising again. But where you will get the best advise and proper clearance will be with a women’s health physio who will check your abdominal separation and get an overview of how your body is recovering so you can start gauging what type of exercise will be right for you.
If you’re not ready or you simply just don’t feel up to it after only 6 weeks that is absolutely OK too. There is a whole life time ahead of you to get back to training and your first and foremost priorities should be your own mental health and the health of your new baby. Dont place any pressure on yourself. To be honest 6 weeks is not that long and in terms of healing especially if you had a high risk pregnancy, cesarean, an extra long labour or traumatic birth you could take longer to recover.
If you’re itching to do something before 6 weeks, walking is perfect – it’s not only great exercise but will help you to clear your mind and you’ll probably find your baby will take a nap in a moving pram. Something else you should do straight away is your pelvic floor exercises – my 4 week plan HERE.
2. TAKE IT EASY & BE KIND TO YOURSELF
Once you have got medical clearance and its time to hit the gym please try to take it easy! Be kind to your self and your body. It has taken 9 months and a lot of stress and pressure on your body physically to grow your baby so it’s going to take time to get your body, strength and fitness back. It is also important if you are breastfeeding that you don’t over do it as over exercising can effect and lower your milk supply.
3. REPAIR AND REBUILD BEFORE RETURNING TO NORMAL TRAINING.
Engage the services of a womens health physic and a qualified professional in postpartum fitness to ensure what you are doing is safe and effective for the postpartum body.
It is so vital to rebuild and repair your core and pelvic floor before you start back to your regular training. It is also so important to make sure that you start out with exercises that are suitable for the post baby body. Give yourself 4-6 weeks minimum of low intensity and rebuilding programming to start to build back your fitness and body before getting another check up with a physio and then returning to a normal program if you are ready.
Please remember when you see influencers on social media exercising they aren’t usually qualified in post natal fitness or fitness at all so just because they are doing something it does NOT mean its correct or safe for your body. Getting a specific postpartum fitness program is the safest way of knowing you’re doing what is going to benefit your body.
4. FOCUS ON YOUR OWN JOURNEY
Its very easy in a highly saturated world of images of what we “should” look like post baby to start comparing ourselves to others especially on social media but you must try to focus on you and remember that your journey is unique to you.
Just because you see a another new mother looking a certain way or doing a certain thing it doesn’t mean that it is necessarily right for you or that you need to look that way too.
You are worthy just the way you are.
5. BRACE/CONTRACT YOUR CORE
Ensure you are engaging your core with every movement you make in any form of exercise. This will protect your pelvic floor, help to repair any abdominal separation and prevent injuries to your lower back. It is necessary that new Mummies are able to brace their core correctly before returning to exercise. Get a fitness trainer or physio to check that you are bracing correctly – during pregnancy its easy for us to lose the mind body connection with our core and pelvic floor and a physic or good postnatal trainer can help you to get that connection back.
6. PROTECT & REPAIR YOUR PELVIC FLOOR
No one wants to pee themselves a little every time they run, laugh, jump or sneeze so it is SUPER important that you protect & repair your pelvic floor after having a baby. On advice from my women’s health physio I decided to not do any running, jumping, skipping or plyometric movements for minimum 6 months post babies, this is also the advice I would give to most of my clients even though I had no pelvic floor issues. That may seem like a long time to wait but I truly believe it ensures the pelvic floor is properly healed before you start to do those movements again and that you will have a strong pelvic floor in the future. This is vital if you want to have more than one baby as with each pregnancy your pelvic floor will become weaker.
7. NO CRUNCHES OR SIT UPS!
I cannot tell you how important it is that you do not do any crunches or sit-ups or abdominal exercise that causes excessive intra-abdominal pressure until your abdominal separation has fully healed. These movements are in no way helpful to you to get your body back or loose weight anyway and will only cause more damage, separation and weaken your pelvic floor. I believe most women even if they don’t have separation post birth should wait at least couple of months before doing these movements to ensure the integrity of the muscles and the connective tissue so giving the body the extra time to heal does that.
Some alternate ab/core exercises include – glute raises, side plank, single leg drops/toe taps, chin tucks, laying hip openers, reverse bridges, clams, heel slides, wall push-ups, kneeling crunches, kneeling arm and leg raises & the ones you should all know for the PF – kegels!
YOU WILL FIND HEAPS MORE IN MY E-GUIDE AVAILABLE HERE.
8. MAKE THE TIME – GUILT FREE
So many Mummies have told me they feel guilty or don’t have the time for exercise. Allow yourself the time – start with 20 to 30 minutes 3 times a week and build up from there. You are not being selfish by taking the time it will actually be beneficial for your family – exercise releases endorphin’s (happy hormones) which will make you feel so much better both physically and mentally.
Schedule workout time in to your diary like an appointment, do a circuit at home, do a workout in the park using your baby as the resistance or take the kids for a walk in the pram – get it done how ever you need to.
9. EAT HEALTHY BUT EAT ENOUGH
Eat healthy, unprocessed foods to help get your body back in shape but ensure you are consuming enough calories – this is particularly important if your breastfeeding as your body will need more calories and especially carbs to sustain both you and bub! The postpartum period is not the time for strict dieting, it is the time for nourishing and respecting your body.
If you’re lacking motivation, don’t have the time or are just really tired try making healthy smoothies or look for a healthy meal prep company that can deliver pre-made nutritionally balanced meals to your door.
10. REST & RECOVER
Becoming a new mummy can be stressful enough and the days are long and full on so adding in exercise can make you tired and sore. Ensure you take rest days where you take it easy and be kind to your body by stretching, doing yoga, drinking plenty of fluids and cuddling with your babe.
11. DRINK WATER
I know you have heard this one million times before so I wont harp on about all the benefits of drinking water but it is SO important that you are getting a minimum of 2L on the days your aren’t exercising and minimum 3L on the days you are. If you are breastfeeding you will need to nearly double those figures as you need so much more fluid to keep up supply while staying hydrated.
P.S Coffee doesn’t count as water so make sure even in your sleep deprived state that you keep up with the water intake, not just the coffee.
12. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
This would have to be the most important tip of all. Only YOU know what is comfortable and what feels right for you. Your body has been through a lot in order to produce your incredible little human and sometimes something that feels right for one mummy doesn’t for the next.
Do not do anything that causes you pain or discomfort especially in your core or “down there”.
The most important thing is that you are exercising safely, to your limits (not someone else’s) and that you are working on building your fitness and strength and not just focusing on the scales.
Please remeber this is generalised information – I do not know your induvidual circumstances so please make sure you gain medical clearance and speak to your doctor or OB before commencing any fitness program.
For more info on post baby exercise or if you have any questions please feel free to contact me via my webpage or ask me on Instagram. This is my passion and I’d love to help you out!
Nov 20, 2018