It is a proven fact that exercise has multiple benefits for new mothers such as increasing energy levels, uplifting the spirits, improving strength and helping those postnatal muscle groups to return to their pre-baby state. The wonderful experience of being a new parent has its challenges and it is important to look after yourself as best you can whilst battling lack of sleep and adapting to a new routine.
Getting back into exercise can seem like a challenge when you no longer have the freedom and flexibility that you had pre-baby but a simple brisk walk can still raise those endorphin levels and your heart rate. It is important to take into consideration a few key things before you start your postnatal fitness journey and the experts at CARiFiT have put together a few pointers and areas to consider to get you back on track safely and effectively.
Exercise after natural birth
Remember there is no rush to get back to exercise after giving birth, allow your body time to recover! If you had a straightforward natural birth, you can start gentle exercise as soon as you feel up to it. This could include walking, pelvic floor exercises and some deeper core exercises.
It is essential that you wait until you have had your six week check before moving on to high impact or high intensity exercise as your body is still adapting post-birth.
Exercise after C-section
If you had a C-section, your recovery time will be a little longer, so listen to your body and talk to your midwife, health visitor or GP before starting anything too strenuous.
Regardless of delivery method exercise post birth should always be safe, sensible and relevant to the needs of the post-natal body.
Diastasis Recti is the result of excessive intra-abdominal pressure or loading. It is the widening of the gap between the 2 sections of the Rectus Abdominis (or 6 pack) abdominal muscle.
How to check your tummy gap (Diastasis Recti)
A tummy gap or diastasis Recti is a gap of roughly 2.7cm or more between the 2 sides of the muscle that covers the front surface of the tummy area (Rectus Abdominis Muscle). If you have one, it is important to recover and reduce this gap which an expert can help you with. Remember any crunches, abdominal curls should not be completed if you have or are in any doubt about your tummy gap.
Restoring your core muscles
For more information on restoring the core and other key tips, CARiFiT has put together a comprehensive introduction to exercise and re-engaging the core at CARiFiT/7daykickstart , here you will find a step by step guide to reconnecting with and restoring your core muscle function.
Once you have learned how to reconnect with your deep core muscles and can engage these effectively during every-day movements and exercises then you can move onto more strength-based exercises to help build the strength of these muscles.
Maintaining energy levels
Finding a balance in your energy will take a little time as your body adapts to the changes of being a new mum. Food is something that you can use to fuel yourself efficiently and help with the tiredness that you will no doubt be experiencing.
Below are some helpful tips to get you bursting with energy:
- Include a serving of whole grains with each meal to release energy slowly throughout the day and keep you feeling energised. Think wholemeal pasta and rice, as well as super grains like quinoa, which will all help you stay energised for longer.
- Try eating beans and pulses as a means of carbohydrate, they are a fantastic source of energy that will last for hours. They’re also a great source of protein and fibre, so will keep you feeling fuller for longer – leaving you less likely to raid the goodie drawer.
- Have a water bottle at home, with you in your bag/in the car. When it is there it is easier to remember to reach for water. Staying hydrated is very important particularly if you are breast-feeding.
- Snack preparation is more crucial than ever now that you have less time on your hands. Try to prep ahead and make the most of baby’s sleep time to include chopping veg and fruit to keep in storage tubs for at home or on the go snacks.
- Feel you need a sugary hit? Try some dark chocolate. Choose a bar with at least 70 per cent cocoa solids; it’s an excellent source of iron and magnesium – a little helping hand from dark chocolate is never a bad thing.
Setting realistic goals
At the end of the day, it is about finding your feet and developing a routine that works for you and your baby. This is different for everyone, there are no hard and fast rules so go easy on yourself.
- Listen to your body and pace yourself.
- Stay active as it will help both your recovery and your mood.
- Take time to rest and relax, meeting friends and sharing your experiences with others can really help to keep you on track.
- For optimum benefits and more chances of success, schedule workouts after feeding times if breastfeeding
- Consider working out with your baby, CARiFiT encourages you to work out whilst wearing the baby in a carrier so avoids the need for childcare and means that you get that all-important baby bonding time whilst looking after your health.
Exercise should be fun and although we all know that we need to be active, it should be enjoyable as well as beneficial. It is a proven fact that working out with friends helps with motivation and choosing the right music can really change your workouts so pick your favourite songs and get moving.
Find the exercise that works for you and get yourself back on track your way.