As a personal trainer, I am often asked how I got my fitness/body back after pregnancy as well as over coming to the surge of hormones that hits you after birth. For me exercise and fitness played a huge part in my pregnancy,
I was able to train and continue training clients right up until my daughter’s birth. I want to share my experience to hopefully encourage more women to get moving after childbirth.
My daughter arrived 6 weeks early (very quickly and with no prior warning) and we spent almost 3 weeks in the hospital with her. I spent my days by her bedside either expressing milk (as she was tube fed) or breastfeeding and felt very much like a milking cow. For me sitting is not something I was used to and I could feel myself getting anxious and stressed spending days with no daylight or fresh air and very little movement.
Once the shock of having a premature baby had started to pass and she was moved from high to low dependency I was able to focus and start to think about what made me feel normal. Three times a day I would take myself out of the building and walk around the hospital grounds to get moving again, as well as some very much needed Vitamin D and fresh air.
I cannot stress the importance of movement for both your mind and body. Walking allowed me to feel slightly human again even though I had a long way to go to feel completely myself.
Once out of hospital I continued to walk daily (often more than once). As a new mum, it is very easy to isolate yourself and somehow walking made me feel connected with the world again. My daughter is almost 20 months now and to this day, I still put her in the buggy during nap time and walk. Walking has become part of my life now and I love being able to walk off the stresses of the day.
I am out in all the elements and love the feeling a brisk walk gives me. My husband sometimes joins me giving us an opportunity to brainstorm business ideas or have a well-needed catch-up.
I am often asked when can I start to exercise? As a general rule if you have had a straightforward birth you can start gentle exercise as soon as you feel ready to do so.
Walking is a great start on the road to recovery , it is not too strenuous but will get you moving again. When feeling tired remaining active may be the last thing you feel like doing but gentle movement can help your body recover and make you feel more energetic.
I would always recommend waiting until after your 6-week postnatal check before enduring any high impact exercise.
Here are 7 trainer tips to help you get back in shape after childbirth-
Eating a balanced healthy diet including, slow digesting carbohydrates, fresh fruit and vegetables as well as protein to keep you fuller for longer whilst increasing your metabolic rate and promoting lean muscle.
Stay hydrated, remember to drink plenty of water especially if breastfeeding.
Try and get plenty of rest (I know it is hard with a new baby)- take little naps as and when you can “Getting plenty of sleep has been shown to help with weight loss because you’re not compelled to binge on high-calorie, high-sugar foods for energy,” says Sheah Rarback, M.S., R.D., director of nutrition at the Mailman Center for Child Development at the University of Miami School of Medicine.
Remember to do your pelvic floor exercises. These are fundamental in stopping those embarrassing mishaps. Health care professionals stress the importance of these exercises and now I see why.
Breastfeed if possible- breastfeeding can burn additional calories (as well as having great health benefits for your baby) so if you are able to this is a great tool to help lose weight. I appreciate not everyone can breastfeed so you must do what is right for you and your family.
Find a group of like-minded mums and get out and about with them- talking and walking will help both the body and mind. Sometimes us mums just need a good old downloading session!
Never be afraid to ask for help if you are struggling with weight gain. Seek advice from your Health Visitor, GP or even enlist the help of a personal trainer. Many of us have been through what you are going through so we can relate to your experiences!
If you are stuck for time and feeling like all you do all day is be a mother, then try thise 26 ab exercise when you baby is napping to start getting back in shape. Once you stomach muscle have fully healed you can start with light abdominal work and build up from there! Good luck to all the mums out there!