Post Baby Exercise Squad
Lucy Yates – Mamas Who Move
Had a baby and thinking about exercise but don’t know where to start?
Our fitness and lifestyle writer, Lucy Yates, from Mamas Who Move, a fitness and workout group in Macclesfield, offers her tips for getting back into exercise – post baby- and discusses the benefits of exercise for body and mind.
Getting used to your changing body during pregnancy can be difficult – with aches, pains and a growing bump – but a useful resource to explain what’s happening is never far away thanks to the many online advice portals. Likewise there seem to be antenatal this, that and the other, but once the baby arrives, it’s a whole different ball game…
Scouring the internet for tips on how to exercise safely after childbirth bears little fruit. Perhaps after the furore the media caused following its overuse of the pointless and fear-inducing phrase ‘snap back,’ some sort of over the top sensor has been instigated? Understandably, we all feel different about our bodies after having a baby and everyone’s opinion in as valid as the next – from wanting to return to working out almost immediately, to taking a year or more off while you adjust to motherhood.
What has been widely publicised are the benefits of exercise on mind as well as body. The Telegraph recently covered a study that evidenced the links between working out and reduced post natal stress and anxiety. It stated that aerobic exercise should be considered as a ‘management option’ for sufferers of PND and went on to point out that many new mothers are wary of taking medication for it. In fact, encouraging endorphin’s to flow naturally comes out as one of the most effective solutions, too.
Being a new mum for the first, second, third or even fourth time is never easy. And if you’re one of the lucky few who is happy, content and 100 per cent relaxed about your new role, then go you! If you’re on the other side however, exercise can help improve your confidence, reduce stress and anxiety to help you drift off to sleep quicker (a vital skill when you never know how many times you might be up in the night), make you feel more energised and, of course, help you to return to your pre-pregnancy body.
So, how do you return to exercise safely after having a baby and what sorts of things should you be doing and when? As a rule of thumb, if you workout six to 12 weeks after having a baby you should follow the same rules as you did in your third trimester, and gradually build up to your pre-pregnancy exercise routine. The pointers below should help give you a few ideas for where to start…
Firstly, if you’re breastfeeding, an independent parent or have to do the majority of baby care for another reason, exercising away from your baby is a total no-go. Try pram pushing instead of taking the car whenever possible or once a day for forty minutes, as walking with your pram can burn up to 25 per cent more calories, help tone your glutes and triceps and get your heart rate up.
Another option is to join a parent and baby fitness group. Mamas Who Move is a Cheshire-based group that meets up weekly to workout with our babies in tow. We do HIIT circuits that focus on arms, legs, bums and core and steer clear of anything overly strenuous to avoid injury. The group spirit creates a fun workout and we all egg each other on when we’re tired or need a boost. There are quite a few of these groups across the region so have a look online for one near you if you fancy giving it a go.
Exercise at home is a good, accessible option for most new mums. While there are a million and one jobs to do (how does a tiny weeny little person create so much washing?!) most of us can find ten minutes a few times a week to exercise if we really want to. Most new mums I know are worried about getting their tummy back as it once was. Having a baby changes the shape not just the size of your body and the older you are, the more it’s likely to happen, so I’m really honest about the fact that it may take a while to resemble what it once looked like and that that’s OK. Abdominal hollowing is a gentle way to return to core exercise and can be done in front of the telly, by kneeling on all fours and arching your back as you engage your core muscles and bring them in as though trying to make your naval reach your back.
Try a personalised training plan made bespoke to you and your goals and lifestyle – even if you can only make it once a week, as it’s designed just for you it will be super effective.
If you used to be a keen runner, then there are a few running buggies on the market. If you’re able to, enjoy the flexibility of mat leave and head out first thing to kick start your metabolism for the day.
Team sports are on the up again. Why not get back to being the old you and do something nostalgic like tennis or netball? As well as exercising, you’ll meet new friends and feel less like a nappy changing machine.
So, whatever you choose, the number one rule is to remember you are AMAZING. Your body just made another human being and it may take time to get the results you want. Also, who can blame you for wanting to spend all your time with your cute little baby, rather than sweating it out in the gym? Little by little is the answer and go with what feels right for you. As long as you’re happy and healthy, that’s the main thing.