How to get back into shape after having a baby
It’s always a tough one, you want your pre-baby body back right now! But how to start, when to start and what kind of exercise to do?
How to start?
Enlist help! It’s going to be hard to get to the gym or the yoga studio or wherever unless you’ve got a babysitter, and if you don’t have a babysitter then that means you’ll have to bring the baby along. Hiscoes has mums and bubs Pilates classes on Friday mornings at 10.30am. Otherwise the best form of exercise is going to be walking and breastfeeding – oh yes, breastfeeding – burns heaps of calories! Get together with a couple of mothers from your mums group and engage the services of a personal trainer, you can share the session and looking after the babies. Be Flexible, sometimes it’s not going to work, the baby will cry, it won’t go to sleep, that’s what babies do. Just set your workout times and stick to them as much as you can, no-one will worry if the baby grizzles a bit, trust me, they always sound louder to your ears than anyone else’s.
When to start?
Your doctor is the best person to advise you, but generally 2-4 weeks after a vaginal delivery and 6 weeks after a cesarean. As soon as you feel ready, just do it! Not only will you benefit from getting out of the house, it’s also good for your mental health to do something that’s not baby related. If you’re concerned about what you should and shouldn’t do, then meet with a trainer or go to a class that’s specifically for new mums. The good thing about classes is that it’s also a chance to chat with other mums about how they are dealing with the stress of having a new baby and way more productive than sitting in a cafe eating cake and whinging about how fat you feel!
What kind of exercise to do?
Ideally you want to work on strength and postural re-balancing, which is why Pilates is often recommended to new mums. I know you want to burn of those extra couple of kgs that are hanging around too, but high impact exercise isn’t recommended straight away as your body is still healing from the birth and besides do you really want to jump around with those milk-laden boobs? But weight training is definitely a good idea if you get some advice from a trainer, and even modified HIIT Training can be ok – again a good trainer can help you out.
Pilates is a perfect way to increase muscle strength, metabolism and burn calories, without stressing the ligaments and joints of the body. The hormone relaxin is produced during pregnancy and creates ligament laxity to allow the structures of the body to adapt to growing the baby and birth processes. Relaxin can stay in the body for up to two years post birth and must be considered when trying to re-strengthen and add load to muscles. A light weights program using dumbbells is also a perfect way to work back towards your old strength levels, you also need to allow a bit of time, probably about 6 months. We see pictures in magazines of stars on the red carpet 2 months post partum but the reality for the rest of us is that we don’t have the resources available to be able to devote the same amount of time to diet and exercise that they can! I remember when I had my first baby it was a joy to have enough time for a shower – let alone anything else!
Tighten the core
Pilates is a great way to work towards tightening your core, delivering perfect post-natal stomach strength. Diastasis, a separation of the rectus abdominal muscle often happens during pregnancy and requires diligent “pulling in” of the abdominals when exercising or it will not heal or may even worsen. Directing the abdominals toward the spine and strengthening the deepest layers, which is a focus of pilates helps heal diastasis as well as stimulate the digestive organs and activate deep lymph nodes. This creates enhanced digestive processing and toxin removal, both factors that will increase the body’s ability to remove excess fluids and baby weight.