With many celebrities seemingly ‘snapping’ back into shape just weeks after giving birth, some new mums can feel under pressure to lose their baby weight fast. If you would like to feel fitter, shed a few pounds or to firm up, it’s important not to rush into a faddy diet and to only take on what you feel comfortable with. Many medical professionals recommend waiting until after your six week postnatal check up before re-starting exercise. This period may need to be longer if you’ve undergone a caesarean or had any other complications.
If you do feel ready to bring in some fitness, finding the right type of exercise and commitment level for you will make things easier to stick to but there are some activities you’ll need to avoid, at least at first. To avoid infection you should avoid swimming at least until any postnatal bleeding has stopped. High intensity exercise such as HIIT training is also not recommended, this is in part because your joints and muscles will remain a little looser for a little time after birth.
For advice on when you might be able to re-start exercise and at what level, try talking to your health visitor or GP. As well as boosting energy, doing some sort of physical activity can help to ease symptoms of postnatal depression, so your postnatal care team are likely to encourage interest in regaining fitness when you’re ready.
Your own gym zone
Leaving the house isn’t the easiest thing to do with a little one in tow, so why not bring the exercise to your doorstep? Investing in a few pieces of equipment for a home gym such as a treadmill or cross trainer, carries a large upfront cost but in comparison with the average cost of a gym membership, with regular use it could pay for itself in less than a year. If you’d like to go down this route you’ll want to create a special space to home the equipment.
This could be in a conservatory or even a section of your lounge or dining room. With the addition of some mats, a few free weights and inexpensive equipment such as fitness balls, you could soon have a workout zone to rival your local leisure centre.
Think about how you’ll control light and temperature as you work out too. If you don’t already have them, bi-fold doors can make the area feel more light and airy and give you the option of taking some of your activities outdoors onto the patio when the weather allows. Creative Doors Direct make doors with a wooden finish if you’re not a fan of the uPVC look.
For a better chance of sticking to your regime, why not ask a friend to come round and train with you? Research has proven that those who exercise with others are more likely to continue with exercise long term. You could ask them to bring the post workout snacks in return for sharing your equipment or try doing something that needs minimal equipment like these postnatal yoga exercises.
Buggy workout sessions
There’s a lot to be said for outdoors fitness sessions. Firstly, you get the benefit of all that fresh air and potential of Vitamin D development from exposure to the sun’s rays. Secondly, taking your baby outdoors helps them to begin to distinguish between night and day and can help them start to settle into a sleep routine. In fact, research conducted by Liverpool John Moores University found that babies exposed to fresh air after lunch sleep better at night time.
As with any type of exercise, you should listen to your body when you start to take your baby out in its pram. Aim to start out with just short walks of between ten and twenty minutes and build up to longer walks when you feel more comfortable.
Pushing your baby in its pram can help you tighten stomach muscles and your bottom, particularly if you head up an incline or two. To monitor your progress you could invest in a steps monitor such as a Fitbit, or a cheaper alternative is to track your walks online using free software like MapMyWalk.
Postnatal exercise classes
As a new mum it can be really tricky to make time for yourself and you may be thinking that heading out to an exercise class is likely to be impossible or difficult at best. However, many postnatal exercise classes actually allow you to take your baby along with you. Your health visitor or midwife may be able to advise of any such classes in your area and along with lifting your mood through exercise; you could find that you meet other local mums who are in the same boat as you.
From pilates and yoga through to simple stretch classes, whatever class you attend don’t forget to wear suitably comfortable and supportive kit. If you’re breastfeeding you may find you feel that you want to put a sports bra and nursing bra on for extra support. If you decide to go along to an exercise class that isn’t specifically aimed at new mums don’t forget to talk to your instructor, who should be able to advise you if the class is suitable and whether you may need to do alternative versions of any exercises.
In case you are planning to start postnatal exercise soon, try not to put too much pressure on yourself. After all, being a new parent is exhausting!
If getting back into activities post birth is something you’ve already been through – did you struggle or discover something new that you now love doing?