It's a good idea to wait until after your six-week postnatal check before you start to exercise regularly again. If you exercised regularly before giving birth and you feel fit and well, you might be able to start earlier. Talk to your midwife or GP.
If you had a caesarean delivery, your recovery time will be longer, so talk to your midwife or health visitor before starting anything too strenuous.
While many factors impact your results, including how much weight you gained, your diet before, during and after pregnancy, your exercise program and intensity, care available postpartum, etc. You may notice a huge difference in your body during the first two weeks after delivery, when you lose much of the accumulated pregnancy-related fluid. After that, loss of fat stores is up to you which will gradually decrease over a period of four to six months as long as you follow through with consistency.
What should I be aware of before exercising?
During pregnancy relaxin (a hormone released in the second trimester) softens ligaments, cartilage , the cervix and pelvis, allowing greater potential movement of the joints. The effects of relaxin mean that joints throughout the body are potentially vulnerable during pregnancy. Exactly how long relaxin stays in the body post birth is debatable and will vary between mothers. Five months is often quoted but estimates can vary from three months up to a year. The mother is the best judge and will know when she no longer ‘feels loose’.
Your lower back and core abdominal muscles are weaker than they used to be. Your ligaments and joints are also more supple and pliable, so it's easier to injure yourself by stretching or twisting too much.
There are some great exercises you can do to bring your abdominal muscles back together, rebuild your core and help you regain a flatter tummy…. just avoid jumping into intense exercise too soon, before your abdominal or pelvic floor muscles are ready and avoid crunches.
The traditional crunch or sit up is one of the worst exercises you can do after having a baby – especially if you have Diastasis Recti (abdominal separation).
Sit Ups/crunches can actually increase the gap. Crunches only target one of several ab muscles — primarily the Rectus Abdominus (your six pack muscles) which is one of the most overstretched muscle groups during pregnancy and your obliques. These muscles easily overpower the weaker internal abdominal muscle (the Transverse Abdominus) during crunch-like exercises which can cause your abdominal wall to bulge out.
Before giving your stomach muscles a workout, you must first ensure that any physical damage as a result of giving birth has healed and is back to normal again. Speak with your doctor to find out what is best for you and when you can start.
Effective post baby exercises - strengthening your pelvic floor muscles
During pregnancy and during the act of giving birth, significant demands are made on the muscles that make up your "pelvic floor". Relaxation of these muscles is responsible for poor bladder control, which some women suffer from after giving birth.
Pelvic floor exercises after childbirth can help the muscles to recover more quickly.
Your focus should be on rebuilding strength and control of your Transverse Abdominus – your deepest core muscle. This muscle compresses the abdominal wall, acts like a corset, draws the belly button closer to the spine and is the body’s most important core stabilizer.
The “drawing in” maneuver – You can lie on your back, on your side or get on all fours – contract and hold your deep core muscles as you imagine drawing your belly button in toward your spine – and hold for count of 10 as you breathe.
For example plank variations which are most effective when you perform sets of 10-second holds with a brief rest between sets instead of holding for 30-60+ seconds at a time.
How Do I Lose This Baby Weight?
It is important to allow your weight to come off slowly. This process should happen naturally as long as excess kilojoules are not consumed. Aim to give yourself around six months to get your figure back naturally before resorting to a restricted eating plan. The early days of motherhood are not a good time to restrict your diet. Your body needs some additional energy and nutrients to meet the extra requirements of feeding and generally looking after your baby. As a guide:
- Eat a wide variety of foods (including breads, cereals, rice, pasta, vegetables, legumes, fruits, milk, cheese, yogurt, lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds).
- Drink plenty of water.
- Avoid skipping meals, especially breakfast.
- Take the time to have a nutritious lunch and dinner.
- Have your meals at regular intervals.
- Have balanced meals and snacks, without too much fat or sugar.
Get Your Body Back After Baby - Guidelines Before you start however, here are some important safety tips.
- Listen to your Body
I cannot stress this enough. If at any time you feel discomfort, pain, light headedness, nausea or experience bleeding STOP immediately, do not try to push through it. Either take the time you need to recover and/or share this information with your Dr.
- Stay Hydrated
Drink plenty of water before, during and after you workout sessions, especially if you are breastfeeding
- Don’t overdo it
Doing too much too soon, jumping into rigorous activity or lifting heavy weights is not suitable. Your muscles and ligaments need time to recoup. They are overly flexible due to the hormones easily stretched so more prone to injury. You also risk burning yourself out. Chronic pain can result from premature sessions of running, stepping or weight lifting with misaligned posture and loose joints and ligaments.
- How do I know if I’m overdoing exercise after having a baby?
If you’re doing too much, you’ll experience extreme fatigue, feel run-down and take longer to recover from workout sessions.
- What can you do
Pelvic floor and core activation exercises can be started as soon as possible after birth. Pelvic floor exercises such as Kegels should be started asap and can be done anywhere. These foundational exercises can hasten the restorative process, improve your posture, flatten your abdominal muscles, and prepare you to return to your favorite strength training routine. The sooner you start, the sooner your body responds.
From here you will then ease into a body weight strength and intervals training program. As you regain strength and endurance and your body is responding positively to your workouts, you can then gradually begin to increase the intensity of your routine.
- Getting a flat stomach again
Your stomach muscles and skin become distended and stretched during your pregnancy. A few gentle toning exercises to begin with will help you get your stomach firm again which can be progressed in time. It is important to develop and strengthen all of the core muscles because of their importance in maintaining proper posture too. Core muscles are the muscles in the body's lower and upper torso (i.e not just around the stomach area). Focusing only on some aspects of the body's core can lead to imbalances that can result in bad posture and back problems. There are several types of exercises that can provide this balanced approach. Exercises that require balance, especially those that use a workout ball or a balance board generally will provide a good workout for the core muscles.
Make It Easy To Exercise
To make the most of your post baby workout plan, set up a routine that you can stick to.
Consistency is KEY to your success. Make it easy on yourself for example you can also workout at home. Create a workout space in a convenient corner of your home. Have your equipment set up and ready to go, so whenever baby naps or is playing – you can grab a quick 10-15 minute workout.
Yes, 15 minutes is all you need when you are following an effective workout plan. As a busy Mum – there may not be enough time for hour long workouts. Fifteen minutes of the right type of exercise will help you feel better and give you more energy to get through the day.
The final and most important tip when focusing on how to get your body back after baby is setting realistic goals.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION
Contact Marcel Mendez – firstname.lastname@example.org
Marcel Mendez is an Advanced Fitness Personal Trainer specializing in strength, nutrition and personal training for the over 30’s. He has a consultative approach in helping individuals to reach their fitness goals and is the co-founder of the Kippington Fitness Club which offers dedicated fitness sessions aimed exclusively at the over 30’s in Sevenoaks.
“ Individuals from 30 years old onwards tend not do not move or recover like their younger versions. This is in part due to a combination of the various stresses of family and worklife. The Kippington Fitness Club incorporates a lifestyle fitness approach to help individuals with their specific goals in a fun and result driven environment “ Marcel adds.
The programs have been created in partnership with the Freedom PT Academy which provides internationally recognised accreditation courses for elite fitness professionals at the Tonbridge School Sports Centre, a world class facility which recently hosted the Australian Athletics team.