You just have to spend 5 minutes on Facebook these days to know that there are a million and one ways to get fit, lose weight, tone up, etc. etc. And when you’ve recently had a baby and are looking for solutions to getting fit after pregnancy it can be a little overwhelming.
So, how do you sort the wheat from the chaff and find out which programmes might be most suitable for you and your body at this point in time? Well, I hope my top 3 dos and don’ts will help you to navigate your way through a little more easily.
#1 = DO start re-connecting to your pelvic floor soon after birth, but DON’T do anything more strenuous than walking and gentle pelvic floor exercises until you’ve had your 6 week check (8 weeks if you’ve had a c-section. After the birth, it’s likely that there will be some loss of connection with your pelvic floor. You will be swollen and tender and if you have stitches, or you’ve had a c-section, there will be extra healing going on there too. But, when you feel able, start some gentle pelvic floor lifts – this will help with healing and the sooner you can re-connect with your pelvic floor the better as it will also make your transition back into exercise a bit quicker and easier.
Just make sure your midwife has given you the okay to get started. Then, once you’re ready, you can start walking – take it a few minutes at a time and build up from there. Anything more than walking will be too much for you until AT LEAST 6 weeks. Whatever kind of birth you’ve had your body is still healing and it needs time to be able to do that.
#2 = DON’T go straight back to your usual workout but DO start exercising (safely) again when you’re ready.
Quite apart from the physical benefits of exercise, your mind is going to get huge benefits too. So, getting moving after the birth is good for you all round.
Once you’ve been signed off by your doctor or midwife, if you’re feeling okay it’s tempting to want to jump straight back into your usual exercise routine. But doing anything that’s too challenging or high impact at this stage has certain risks involved.
You’re more likely to get injured and could also injure your still delicate pelvic floor (either leaking, or in some cases, a prolapse), plus you could make issues such as an abdominal separation and back ache worse. That’s because even at this point, your support systems won’t be back up to speed yet – I can’t emphasis this enough, but however you feel, inside you are still healing and recovering from the birth.
However, this is a great opportunity to work on core strength and stability, plus there is LOADS you can do to build your fitness safely and build up a sweat! Just keep an eye on my Facebook page for some postnatal specific workouts over the next few weeks that will help with just that.
#3 = DON’T be too hard on yourself, but DO start to take small, positive steps to increase your fitness and improve your nutrition.
We really do expect a lot of ourselves sometimes. We think we ought to be brilliant mothers (despite being sleep deprived), to be great wives (despite being sleep deprived), to keep up a decent social life (despite being sleep deprived) and to top it all off we all want to lose our baby weight and be bikini ready in time for summer (despite being sleep deprived).
We want it all and we want it NOW! But when you’ve got a young baby, it can be an awful lot to keep on top of. It’s just stressful, and that on top of not getting enough sleep is going to make you feel bad, reduce your energy reserves and add unneeded stress onto a system that’s trying to heal and recover. Not a great combo.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to get healthy after birth, but do it in a way that is kind to your body and mind. Do it by doing the right kinds of exercise that will reduce rather than increase stress, by making small changes gradually and by looking after yourself whenever you get the chance. There really is no prize for being first to lose your baby weight – but the rewards that come from being kind to yourself, such as feeling happier, having more energy and feeling less stressed, are priceless.
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