Already worried about getting back in shape post-baby? Here are six things you need to know before easing back into fitness.
Just a note, it’s important to get the all-clear from your doctor to exercise. He or she should provide you with lots of tips on the types of exercises you might want to encourage or avoid, especially if you’ve had a C-section.
Think of the first six to eight weeks as a healing phase as numerous physical and hormonal changes are taking place during this time. If you jump straight back into intense exercise, such as running or jumping, you run the risk of injury to the lower back and pelvis, which are generally less stable. Focus on low impact workouts and core work, like walking and pelvic floor strengthening.
SAY NO TO SIT-UPS
Your abdominal muscles may have weakened and separated during and after pregnancy, so sit-ups aren’t the solution for a flat belly. The key is to retrain the deeper abdominal muscles which function to “pull back” and stabilise the low back and pelvis, not push out further with crunches. Simple exercises like pelvic tilt and bridge are best. Once abdominal separation is back to normal or you have the OK from your doctor, slowly progress to longer holds and more challenging core exercises.
You’ll need to up your fluid intake, especially if you’re breastfeeding, and even more so once you start to exercise. You’ll need to replace the fluid lost through sweat, otherwise you run the risk of dehydration, which can zap your breast milk supply. Keep a bottle of water with you at all times and sip as you go.
During pregnancy, the hormone relaxin is released, and (just like it sounds) it “relaxes” ligaments and loosens joints and is still circulating up to six months post birth. This can make joints wobbly and unstable making you more prone to injury. Take it easy on your body if your joints feel loose and avoid excessive stretching and intense yoga poses.
Feeling comfortable, supported, and stylish will help you stay on track towards your exercise goals. Invest in a good quality sports bra to minimise bounce and some new runners to support your joints as you stroll around the block. Additionally, a pair of high-waisted leggings paired with a top made from breathable fabric is an ideal combination to keep you cool.
LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
As a new mum, it’s important to look after yourself. While exercise is great for stress relief, you also need sufficient sleep to restore your energy. Balance pram walks with calmer practices like deep breathing and seated stretching, and take naps whenever you can.
ARE YOU GETTING BACK INTO FITNESS AFTER BABY?