For many women, having a baby can be a hugely challenging time and that’s true whether it’s your first or your fourth. On top of being responsible for a tiny person 24 hours a day, it can be very easy to lose a bit of your sense of self and become a bit disconnected from your body.
Yes you have done a wonderful thing with that body of yours, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s easy to get up and celebrate that body every day. Many women describe it as just not feeling like their old selves anymore.
Now, to be clear, I’m not just talking about the fact you may have put on weight or that you have stretch marks and saggy skin! Although that is certainly something all of us mums can relate to.
Rather, I’m talking about your actual connection to your body – not just what it looks like, but what it can and maybe can’t do.
However fit you were before pregnancy and childbirth, it’s pretty likely that your body isn’t quite ready to do those things in the weeks and months afterwards.
You may find you have an abdominal separation, that you’re leaking, that things don’t quite feel right or that you just feel weaker and less capable than you did before.
But enough of the negatives, because the first thing I want to say is that this doesn’t last forever! I know because I’ve worked with loads of women who came to me feeling a bit unsure and a bit disconnected and are now in my circuits class doing burpees with the best of them.
And their secret? They took their time. No rushing back to the same exercise as before at six weeks postnatal, or expecting everything to be the same as it used to. And take my word for it – this is a good thing. Because for probably the first time in your life you have the opportunity to build strength from the inside out, which could ultimately mean you’re fitter and stronger than ever.
So, what are the rules?
- Reconnect first – in other words, find your pelvic floor and core and learn to engage them. Find out more about how to do that in this video.
- Address any issues ASAP – if you’re leaking, have an abdominal separation, are experiencing heaviness or dragging around your vagina, see someone. Either a postnatal specialist like me or a ‘Women’s Health Physiotherapist’.
- Be aware you body has changed – you are likely to have some muscle imbalances post birth. The most common I see are tight chest muscles, tight hip flexors and weak and lazy glutes (bum muscles) so address that through appropriate strengthening exercises. That way you’ll minimise pain and injury and be able to connect more deeply to your core. Join my private New Mums FB group for ideas.
- Start with the functional stuff – forget rushing back to running, lifting weights or going to a circuits class until you’ve strengthened the appropriate muscles and prepared your body for day to day life with a baby. Take a look at this video for more ideas.
- Take your time! My biggest client group? Second time mums who rushed back to high intensity exercise first time round and now need ‘fixing’. The time you take now to slowly rebuild will save you time later.
If you want more information and ideas, plus information about my online courses for new mums, or local classes in East Surrey, sign up to my newsletter.