Most likely, exercise is the last thing on your mind, perhaps you are reading this before baby is here or many weeks after. These first weeks after the new arrival is most likely dedicated to trying to figure out exactly how life works with your new addition. That’s ok. When you are ready, here are some tips to help you get your body back to what it used to be.
As always, be patient with your progress. Your body has changed dramatically over the last 10 months and it’s important to let it heal on its own time. You are already sleep deprived, so try not to stress on how your jeans are fitting just yet. Take the first six weeks after baby arrives to just be with baby and adjust to your new routine. If this includes walks with or without the baby, great! If this means you stay at home and try to sneak in a nap whenever possible, also great! It’s a new time, just go with the flow. If you are back at work, that is also ok, just do what you need to do.
First Six Weeks after Delivery
As always, as long as your doctor approves, it is ok to begin exercise in this time period. However, keep in mind that exercise at this time should not be forced, painful or take place of sleep. If you use exercise time as a way to mentally recover, great! Need a break from baby and you can get away for 30 minutes, do it! As long as it makes you feel good, take that time. Go for a walk, lift some light weights, walk some stairs. Time away from the baby can help you reenergize and give you some much needed YOU time.
If you are going to be out, you may find you need some extra support for those breasts. Especially if you are breast feeding you may need a double sports bra or even a tightly wrapped ace bandage to keep them comfortably in place. Drink plenty of water and eat. If you are breastfeeding you need at least a glass of water each time you feed baby and a light snack, such as an apple, a banana or a small sandwich.
Six Weeks and Beyond
It is important to keep in mind you will most likely not be returning to your pre delivery performance for a couple months. This is normal, so start your workout pace slower than you are used to. You can increase resistance and duration every week until you are where you began. Just have patience. As long as you stick to a workout regimen you will reach your fitness goals. Walking, jogging or running as a great way to get back into cardio shape, especially since you can do this right out your front door. Start with 3 times a week and gradually progress to 5 days a week or more. The exercise should cause you to sweat a little and help you feel good overall. Try to avoid pain thresholds and if any heavy bleeding contact your doctor.
Areas you may want to start training include your pelvic floor area, abdomen, and overall cardio fitness level.
This is the bottom portion of your abdominal wall. These are the muscles that held baby up all that time and it is probably a bit weak in the beginning. You may also be experiencing incontinence (unstoppable flow of urine during laughing, jumping, running etc…) which is also a sign of a weak pelvic floor. Try these exercises to help strengthen this area again:
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet just in front of your bum. Pull in your pelvic floor muscles tight (think the stopping of urine) and lift your hips off the ground towards the ceiling as far up as you can. Pause at the top for 1-2 seconds and then lower and release your pelvic floor. This is a slow move, so do while watching TV. Go for 3 sets of 10-15.
Kegel Jumping Jacks
This will nip that little trickle right where it happens! Stand with legs and arms down at sides. Pull in your kegel muscles tight and jump your legs about 2 feet apart and clap hands overhead, all the while keeping those pelvic muscles clenched. Then hop back into starting position and release those muscles. Build up to 5 sets of 20.
Soon after birth, you probably experience “jelly belly”. Do not fret! This will go away, just remember you had a watermelon stuffed in there and it will take a little time for your tone to come back. Patience. Also be aware of didactic recti. This is the splitting of the abdominal wall and occurs in a majority of pregnant women. You can test for this by lying flat on your back, knees bent as if doing a bridge. Find your belly button and put 1-3 fingers next to it and slowly lift your head and shoulders of the ground, like you are doing a crunch. If you feel the sides of your abs contracting to close your fingers in, great, if you feel the gap more than 3 fingers wide, this means your abs may be slit and you want to avoid crunch like exercises until this area has healed back together. You can also get advice from you doctor on how to proceed.
This is a great full body exercise to help get that core strength back. Also, great to do in front of a mirror if possible to keep an eye on form. You want you set up into pushup position, then lower yourself onto your forearms and elbows should be directly under your shoulders. Contract your abs, bum and legs as tight as you can and make your spine straight from your head all the way down to your glutes. Try to avoid bending your bum towards the celling or dipping your hips towards the ground, this take the exercise away from your core. Keep that spine straight. Build up to 2 minutes.
Perfect way to lose weight, a bit of intense cardio! Try a run or a Tabata sets to get your heart rate up. Tabata is great because you can do these sets when baby goes down for a nap or you can escape outside and take a quick break, just your you and your body, either running or Tabataing.
Whenever you decide to get back into shape, just take it slow. Join a class, a group of other moms or find a personal trainer that can help guide you on your fitness journey. It is possible to get back into shape after baby, so enjoy the challenge!
Written by Zuri Girl, Leticia Mora. A Personal Trainer since 2012 with a background in psychology and fitness, she makes personal training a perfect combination to motivate and get people on a healthy lifestyle track. She absolutely loves helping people to realize their goals. Since moving to Switzerland she has started Rockin Bods, a personal training company.print