Being woken for the third time in the night, lack of sleep, and then when they finally have their nap during the day there are other jobs around the house that need doing. Add on top the expectations of getting back to pre baby weight and exercising too, where do you start.
These where the thoughts of my partner after the birth of our first son. In the blog I will provide some sustainable and safe ways to get fit postnatal and some pitfalls to look out for.
My first bit of advice is don't put yourself under pressure to loose the baby weight instantly. Yes we have all seen the pictures of celebs back in pre pregnancy clothes 6 week after giving birth. However, like every pregnancy is different, so is every recovery. Your hormones, fatigue and mood will all differ from your best friends. I like the saying that it takes 9 months for your body to make a baby so you should give it at LEAST 9 months to recover.
The First Steps
Wait for your 6 week doctors check up. If you are given the all clear, then you should be good to go. If you have to wait a little longer then ensure that you adhere to the doctors advice.
Let's first make a clear definition between the core and abs. The abdominals are one of many muscles that contribute to core control. some are muscles that can been seen e.g. Recuts abdominis, erector spinae, oblquies. Whilst others will never been seen no matter how defined you become. E.g. Transverse abdominis and multifidus. Therefore when we talk about strengthening the core we are not just talking about doing crunches, if anything these should be avoided to start of with.
An important part of core stability is awareness of what a neutral lumbar spine position is and the ability to maintaining an this position while the arms and legs are performing various movements.
A neutral spine is roughly define as half way between a flat lower back (pelvis tilted fully backwards) and an arched owner back (pelvis tilted fully forward). In addition there should be no lateral (side) flexion of the spine. The starting point in all core stability is to confidently maintain this neutral spine.
Progression on to other exercises such as bridge holds, bird dogs, superman, plank and side plank can be the next stage as greater confidence and strength returns. To add challenges, these position can be held for longer, decreased support or even adding in movement to the exercises.
How To Test For Diastasis Rect
It is recommend that you wait 6-10 weeks before doing the test.
- Lay on your back with knees bent
- With muscles relaxed and fingers point down, push fingers in naval.
- Lift your head. When the muscles first start to move, see how many fingers fit between the muscles and how deep your fingers go down. Also check 3” above and below belly button.
This could easily be included in the core section as t pelvic floor plays a pivotal role in core control. Hopefully these were beeping strengthen during you pregnancy, so it's back to that postnatally too. Fast and slow contractions 3 times a day is what we are aiming for here.
It doesn’t have to be running pushing your new-born in a buggy; however, going out for a brisk walk will do wonders for your metabolism, mood and your heart and lungs - not to mention that its great for your little one too. Here’s the little bonus too - your child will get use to this routine which will motivate you to keep getting out, no matter the weather. This can be progressed into a jog further down the line but for starters just enjoy being outdoors. Swimming is another super option. It reduces the strain on the joints and provides a great cardio boost. Stick to front crawl if your pelvic girdle is still experiencing some pain. If childcare is an issue when swimming, why not combine your own swimming with a baby swimming lesson - benefits for you and baby. Indoor cycling instead of outdoor would be a decent low impact alternative.
Lifting and carrying your little one will likely suffice at the early stages, however, through breastfeeding and carrying your child on your front, you may develop some imbalances which could result in a kyphotic posture. Strengthening the movement patterns will decrease your risk of injury e.g., shoulder retraction movements such as banded rows, supermans and prone raises to counteract the potential kyphosis. Also strengthening the lower back and lower limbs through deadlifts, squats and calf raises will help prevent any injuries occurring when picking your little one as they get bigger.
As with any fitness routine, jumping straight back in and going full tilt will only result in injury and disappointment. Slow and steady wins this race! Be patient, set achievable targets and work towards them. Also don’t be too down on your self if you are too tired occasionally - you were up at 2 and 4am remember you will be tired!
Starting a training programme after giving birth can be scary. Knowing what you can and can’t do, the correct intensities, the ideal exercises etc. If you are unsure, seek advice from those in the know.
Calling all new mums
PB Fitness offer a Mums Club class. The course is about regaining control over your body, building practical strength and laying down a robust foundation for a full return to formal exercise. The course will be fun, social and a great way to connect with other mums.