During your pregnancy it’s all about baby – you want to provide nourishment and a cosy cocoon for your precious bundle. Most women can expect to gain between 17 and 30lb in total through their pregnancy, and whilst some women are witnessing these changes in amazement, it’s perfectly normal to be a little concerned about how you’re going to lose all that extra weight once the baby is born. Well, fear not! If you’ve managed to keep active throughout pregnancy and were fit and well beforehand then getting back in shape may not prove to be as much of a challenge as you’d expect – as long as you’re realistic about what you want to achieve and you plan your post natal exercise sensibly.
Manage your expectations
Carrying a child can drastically change your shape – so it’s important to try your best not to constantly compare how you look to your pre-pregnancy body. Trainer Margarita Bennet explains:
“After birth, everything has stretched out like a balloon so there is nothing holding you up. Poor core stability impacts everything and can make everything ache and many women suffer lower back pain.”
Caring about your core and taking steps to strengthen these muscles not only helps you get back into shape, but will also improve the health of your spine – not to mention coming in handy to lift your growing baby! It’s important not to push yourself too far too fast; the hormone relaxin, which is built up during pregnancy, can mean that you may still be a bit wobbly for a few weeks (or even months) afterwards. Don’t forget – no matter how keen you are to get your fitness plan started, it is imperative that you wait until after your six week check-up before undertaking any strenuous exercise.
Work it into your routine
Caring for a newborn takes up a lot of your time. Often women find the hardest thing about getting back into shape is fitting exercise into your busy day. Experts say that even exercising in short sharp bursts can achieve great results. Injecting a little more energy into whatever you find yourself doing can make a big difference. Your buggy is a powerful exercise tool, and there are a few things you can do to make it work harder for you. By increasing the speed you are walking you can get your blood pumping, and once you’re in the swing of things you can graduate to a jog, offering great cardiovascular exercise.
If you haven’t chosen your buggy yet, take a few minutes to think about how it could help your fitness. If you are planning to spend time jogging ‘off road,’ a more robust model will better suit your needs. The Baby Summit XC is designed for exercise and will give your baby a smooth ride over all terrain.
Look to your house for inspiration
If you used a birthing ball in your pregnancy or labour, there’s no reason to deflate it now. A birthing ball is practically the same as an ordinary gym ball so you’ll be able to use it during your workout at home. Start simple – just sitting on the ball is a great way to strengthen your core muscles and assist with balance. As you begin to regain some strength in your core, you can start to use your ball to support yourself during half push ups and squats against the wall.
Join a class
Postnatal fitness is very popular, and there are mum-friendly fitness classes available in many areas of the country. Some even make special provision for you to take baby along, so you won’t have to miss out on any feeds or arrange childcare. Kelly Basset who runs BuggyFit, a postnatal class in Brighton suggests:
“Working with someone qualified can help as they can look at your posture. It’s all about pulling it all back together. Pilates is fantastic for getting your belly back.”
‘Workout’ with baby
Even without making a special effort to incorporate workout time, a little focus can turn everyday tasks into a mini-workout. Activities like lifting and bouncing your baby, carrying a car seat or changing bag, going for a long walk instead of a drive to help baby get back to sleep – all these simple actions can help tone muscles that you may not have used for a while. While this may not give you the sort of definition and strength you’re hoping for, if you find yourself too tired, or overwhelmed by motherhood to put a proper routine in place, rest assured that your body is working harder than you think. As Margarita explains:
“Try not to turn fitness into a big deal. Remember that life has changed and enjoy your baby.”
For a range of fitness friendly prams plus more advice on everything you need for a new baby visit: http://www.kiddicare.com/
Do you have any post natal exercise tips to share? We would love to hear from you.