Recently, a coffee-morning with a group of friends resulted in one of those epiphany’s that resulted in this blog. It motivated me to write about exercise for moms that have recently given birth. Sarah takes up the theme –at our table at Costa – her voice rising ever-so slightly with the emotion. “My life was busy enough before our baby and finding time to train was only found by sacrificing other pursuits. But now I simply can’t seem to get back into training. I feel like a caged tigress,” she lamented.
Exercising after having a baby, especially when you’re feeling tired, may seem like the last thing you need. But regular activity will keep you fit and help you feel more energetic and can even relax you. It’s in that spirit that I write this fifteen-minute read, our third blog on keeping your mojo going in varied circumstances and states of motivation. If you are a mom who is into fitness generally and want to get back into it or if you would like to train but can’t get out the house with a new-born, read on.
Post-natal wellness is as much about mental health as it is your physical health. Some 1 in 10 women get depressed in the year after having a baby, so we not only advise you to learn about the symptoms of postnatal depression but acknowledge that doing some gentle exercise can help to boost your mood. Exercising, as a parent, becomes a much more difficult task, but a desire to be physically active will usually force a creative solution for you.
All bodies are different, all bodies have their own individual way of reacting to the work we make them do. Put it another way, you’ve done everything in your power to give your baby the best start to life, protected him or her as best you could, whilst spending every waking moment making sure they are reaching their developmental milestones, but are you neglecting yourself?
Here are nine of our top pointers to get you back on that journey to sustainable fitness
Set smart goals and…
Nothing happens about your fitness without you wanting it. Motivation comes from within and you can’t just rely on being motivated through someone else if you don’t have a personal reason to do something about your fitness and well-being. Set short-term achievable goals – don’t overwhelm yourself. Whether you’re in the throes of sleep deprivation with a new baby or are mom’s taxi to a slew of extra-mural events, having children can be a struggle to find a consistent time to stay fit.
The types of exercise you can perform post-pregnancy depends on your level of fitness. Walking is an activity that is safe for nearly everyone and, according to the NHS, will speed up the healing process, increase circulation and reduce muscle wasting. Yoga and Pilates are ideal elements to add to a postnatal exercise program because the gentle movements improve muscle tone, circulation and flexibility.
It’s about timing…
The ‘when’ to embark on a postnatal workout program varies. Some women feel good to go within a day or so of giving birth, whilst others take several weeks before they feel able to face exercise. The NHS advise that if you had a straightforward natural birth, you can start gentle exercise as soon as you feel up to it. This may include pelvic floor exercises, gentle stretches and walking. They also recommend that you wait until you get the all-clear from your six-week postnatal check before you start any running or engaging in high impact training. Caesarean birth will mean recovery times are longer, so here we recommend you chat to your midwife, health visitor or GP before any strenuous exercise.
…and making the time
Joining a postnatal exercise class is a good idea, but it is not always feasible. Anne used to regularly jog and work out with her husband until recently. “The gym is 30 minutes away and with nursing every couple of hours, I was unable to get to the gym in the evenings when my husband got home from work”, she told me. After some consultation, it was clear what Anne needed was a straightforward, efficient aerobic workout. A treadmill is an ‘all in one’ solution to home cardio training and within 24 hours from when she had taken delivery of Momentum Hire treadmill she was able to continue her training at her own pace and convenience.
They are entirely appropriate for moms looking to regain their fitness level – from slow walking to building up your speed as your fitness progresses. “I needed a wake-up call. How could I give 100% of me to anyone if I wasn’t being 100% of me? I found that it does not take a lot of time to achieve a basic level of fitness”, Anne later said.
Take care of business
Your lower back and core abdominal muscles will most likely be weaker than they used to be and your ligaments and joints will be suppler in the months after birth, so injury needs to be avoided with gentle warm-ups where you avoiding stretching or twisting too much. Pre-pregnancy sports-bras won’t cut it any more either, as your back and cup size have likely changed, so get measured for a new one.
Be active all day…
You may be tied to your child, literally. Often you can’t leave them for too long, but you can get up and move around and be physically active. For short journeys, walk instead of taking the car or simply park farther away from your destination. Take the stairs instead of the lift. Push the pram briskly, keeping your arms bent at right angles and your back straight
You’ll be doing a lot of picking things up off the floor. Instead of bending over (straight knees and a bent spine), bend down (bent knees and straight back) to strengthen your thigh muscles and avoid damaging your back.
…but watch for the signs of overdoing it
Listen to your body. Pace yourself and make sure you get plenty of rest, too. You’re also likely to feel very tired.
So, how much, how frequent?
Caring for a new-born is a 24/7 job, so don’t stress if your attempts to workout are stinted or even cancelled due to a hungry infant or if you were too tired to even attempt a workout. Work on doing what you can – five to 10 minutes a day will get you on the right track and may even help maintain a bit of your sanity.
Cardio such as walking or elliptical training can be performed every day if you feel up to it, but don’t push yourself too hard. Between 20 and 30 minutes a day is plenty. Short and manageable stints on cardio equipment can be performed every day and – if cleverly done during times when the baby is napping – can help give a new mom some much needed de-stressing.
Strength training should be performed only two to three days per week with at least one day of rest between workouts. It may take a month, it may take a year, but when you reach a goal you set on your own, it’s much more rewarding.
Play it Safe
We believe that your postnatal workout plan should be a stress-reliever rather than a stress-inducer. If you get anxious about exercising than you probably are starting too soon. Drink plenty of water during your workouts and avoid dehydration throughout the rest of the day. If you notice any increase in lochia, postpartum bleeding, then you’re probably pushing yourself too hard and need to take it a bit easier. You will never truly return to your pre-pregnancy body but getting a strong and healthy new normal body is achievable and will take some time, so be patient and enjoy being a mom.
Momentum Hire equipment is the perfect accessory to a busy new mom’s reason to get into shape. We know, because we started the company for this very reason.
We have a range of equipment to suit any budget and any need. For the best advice, contact us on our social media touchpoints, call 03300883013 or mail [email protected]