Features / 19 May, 2017 / Christine Bullock
I’ve lost count of the number of mothers asking us about post pregnancy fitness, and Christine Bullock really is the expert when it comes to postnatal fitness. This article is really simple to understand, and it isn’t over the top or unattainable. Christine has also shared some great imagery so you can really understand the moves. My only wish as I look out onto rainy London is that I could exercise on the beach!
As a new mummy you know better than anyone that preparation is everything, whether you’re planning a feeding schedule, packing for a trip to grandmas or simply making sure household chores get completed – thorough preparation and thoughtful timing are your best friends. These same principles are the most essential elements when it comes to getting back into exercise. First and foremost you need to start when the time is right. There is no magic number or perfect start date for post pregnancy exercise to begin. Check with your doctor and listen to your body before you start working out and throughout your transition back into fitness. Along with timing, preparation is key. You need to start out with a workout specifically designed for new mommies. You also need a workout short and effective enough to fit comfortably into your day.
My new mummy series below is specifically designed for your post pregnancy needs. You will get you back into core strengthening with the moderate foundational ab exercises. You will work with a bit more intensity on lower body moves that get your heart rate up while realigning the pelvis and stretching the outer hips. And finally, you’ll perform exercises to strengthen your posture and give you the opportunity to strengthen, increase breast milk production and that o-so-important mind-body connection. Almost every exercise includes a block between the thighs in order to increase the awareness to draw the pelvic floor and surrounding muscles in as well as rebuild core strength. If you don’t have a yoga block laying around the house you can also roll up a towel for the same benefits.
Core: These moves will help you awaken your deep ab muscles and begin to re-engage your centre.
Cat Cow Block
Begin with your hands and knees on the floor. Make sure your knees are under your hips, and your wrists are under your shoulders. Place the block between your thighs and engage to hold it in place. Begin in a neutral spine position, with your back flat and your abs engaged. Inhale. On the exhale, round your spine up towards the ceiling, and imagine you’re pulling your belly button up towards your spine, really engaging your abs. Tuck your chin towards your chest, and let your neck release. This is your cat-like shape. On your inhale, arch your back, let your belly relax and go loose. Lift your head and tailbone up towards the sky ”” without putting any unnecessary pressure on your neck. This is the Cow portion of the pose. Continue flowing back and forth for 10 breaths.
Lie on your back with your arms resting at your sides, your knees bent and feet on the floor hips distance apart. Place the block between your thighs and engage to hold it in place. Press into your feet to lift your hips toward the ceiling. Draw your tailbone toward your pubic bone, holding your buttocks off the floor. Press your weight evenly across all four corners of both feet. Lengthen your tailbone toward the backs of your knees. Roll your shoulders back and underneath your body. Hold for up to one minute. Exhale as you slowly roll your spine along the floor, vertebra by vertebra. Complete 10 repetitions with your breath.
Single leg Pool dips
Lie on your back with your arms resting at your sides. Bend your knees to 90 degrees, with knees over hips and shins parallel to the floor. This is your start position. Draw your core in and press your low back against the floor as you carefully lower your right thighs toward floor, keep both legs at 90 degrees. Tap your right toe very lightly on the floor and use your core to draw it back up to your starting position. Switch legs and repeat. Complete 15 repetitions on each leg.
Lower body: The following moves will work through your hips and legs, stretching, strengthening and reminding your body of proper alignment.
Prone Leg lift
Lie face down in a prone position with your legs extended long, place the block between your calves and squeeze your thighs and ankles together. Cross your arms and rest your head on your forearms. Engage through your whole body as you lift your legs from your hip flexors through your toes. Hold and lower down softly. Complete 20 repetitions.
Lie face down in a prone position with your legs extended long, place the block between your calves and squeeze your thighs and ankles together. Cross your arms and rest your head on your forearms. Flex your feet as you draw your heels up towards your glutes. Lower down with control. Complete 20 repetitions.
Chest: These back strengthening and chest opening moves will aid in breathing, breast milk production and strengthen your posture.
Begin face down on the floor with arms extended to a T, legs hip distance apart and tops of feet resting on the ground. On an inhalation, use your back muscles to lift your chest and arms off of the floor keeping the neck relaxed and drawing shoulder blades and elbows back; engage your glutes and thighs to hover your legs off of the floor. Then bend your knees and draw your arms back to capture your feet in your hands. Roll to the soft part of your belly. Breathe into the pose and lift up high through your hands and feet. Return to start position and complete the pose 5 times with your breath.
Begin seated in a cross legged position. Inhale and stretch your right arm straight out to the right, parallel to the floor. Rotate your arm towards the ground and continue to rotate as far as you can towards the wall behind you. Exhale as you bring the arm behind your torso. Slowly work your forearm up between your shoulder blades until it is parallel to your spine. Reach your left arm straight up to the sky, bend at your elbow and allow your left palm to drop to your upper back. Clasp your hands together and hold the pose for 3 breaths. Take your time coming out of the pose and switch sides. Hold for 3 breaths. Complete the pose twice on each side.
New Mummy Diet Secrets
Since we are on the topic of preparation and timing for new mummy health, we can’t forget to acknowledge how these factors play into nutrition and your diet. A healthy diet that prevents illness and gives you energy is so important for new mums. If you are breastfeeding you need to support milk production, but even if you’re not breastfeeding you still need to fuel your body to repair itself and take on your new tasks. This all sounds good in theory, but one thing we know for sure is that time is TIGHT for new mums. Read on for a few no-fail diet tips to keep you nourished and energetic while you nurture your new baby.
Meal delivery – It’s okay to say you are too busy to cook! Honestly, it is so much better to admit that you need a little help getting proper nutrition than it is to let your health fall by the wayside.
Enlist the fam – What is family for if not to help you out in hectic times? Ask a family member to help you out by grocery shopping or prepping a few staples for your fridge.
Drink it up – Smoothies are all the rage right now because they’re an easy to make, easy to drink way to fill up on truly everything your body needs. Fruits and vegetables are great in smoothies, but make sure to add in a high quality protein powder. I swear by US site Champion Naturals vegan, vegetarian, gluten free and BPA free protein powders -not only do they feed your muscles and your brain but they are packed with daily digestive enzymes, prebiotics, probiotics antioxidants and greens. Enjoy 20% off your order at championnaturals.com with my promotion code EVO20.
Hands Free – A new baby can keep your hands occupied almost every minute of the day. Stocking up on hands-free food is a great way to ensure that you won’t miss too many meals. Nut, seeds, granola, energy bars, juices and hard boiled eggs are all good options. Choose what you like and try not to let too much time pass between snacks and small meals.
Remember, it takes a happy, healthy mummy to raise a happy, healthy baby. Enjoy each and every day.
By Christine Bullock, Fitness, Nutrition & Wellness expert; Creator of Evolution20
Photos by: Kathryn Page