There is a good chance that if you’ve had a child in the past few months, or are coming up to your due date, you’ve been thinking about how your body has changed over the duration of your pregnancy. A woman’s body goes through a great variety of changes, from weight gain and stretching skin to more psychological ways in that you can lose touch with the connection to your body – almost as if it’s a foreign being.
The one thing you can rely on is the fact that you’re not alone in these feelings. While physical exercise may be a focus post-partum, spending a bit of time on your mental health as well will aid your overall wellness – a major part of a plan of fitness for new mums. No matter if you’re setting yourself a new year’s resolution, have simply made your decision to live better, or you want to set a good example for your family, here are 10 tips for staying fit for new mothers!
1. Start slow & move at your own pace
The desire to jump right into a whole new fitness regimen may seem easy in theory, and it may seem that high profile celebrities are right back in the gym merely days after giving birth. In reality, this is not recommended, and most mothers are recommended to begin after a successful postnatal check (at 6 weeks), or 8-10 weeks post caesarean section. While it’s not advised to start a rigorous fitness regimen in those first 6 weeks, a bit of physical activity will definitely not hurt. Walking is a great way for new mothers to incorporate a bit of fitness into their routine. Duration can increase as time goes by, but even the smallest of activity will help!
2. Be patient
As mentioned earlier, for most of us, the celebrity lifestyle of personal trainers, plastic surgery, and nannies isn’t realistic. Know that this journey may take a few months or it may take a few years. What matters most is that you are doing it safely and in a healthy matter for both yourself and your baby. Too much weight loss immediately after birth can have negative effects on your child if you’re breastfeeding by depriving the milk, and therefore, your child, of the necessary nutrients they need to be healthy and to grow.
3. Get social
Many towns and cities have a budding “social mums” scene that, more often than not, revolves around getting together and doing some sort of physical activity. Whether that be walking, yoga, pilates, or swimming, these activities are encouraged for new mums to meet others in similar situations, get a bit of exercise and stay social (and sane!).
4. Focus on your core
Once you’ve received the OK from your GP and are feeling up to taking your routine to the next level, a focus on your core is important. During pregnancy, many women lose muscle as the abdominals stretch and separate. Spending time rehabilitating these muscles will assist not only in core strength but also regaining proper posture and spinal alignment. Check out these ab workouts for new mums for a bit of inspiration!
5. Check in on your pelvic floor
Similar to your core, your pelvic muscles will have had quite a lot of pressure put on them throughout the 9 months of pregnancy. While it’s encouraged to do pelvic exercises, known as kegels, it’s also important to focus on them post birth as well to help regain strength and prevent any long term problems such as incontinence. Luckily, these exercises can be done rather discreetly, though immediately after birth you may find it more comfortable to do them whilst lying down until you feel strong enough to do them while sitting or standing.
6. Get App-y!
As a new mum, there’s rarely a chance to have a rest, let alone get to the gym for an hour long workout! Thanks to handy phone apps, this is no longer a problem! Covering everything from workouts to wellness, apps help track progress as well as help keep you accountable to your goals!
7. Eat foods that boost your energy levels
One thing that all new mums can agree on is that they rarely get enough sleep. Blow off the cobwebs with a healthy array of energy boosting foods such as whole grains, salmon, lentils and beans. These foods are full of the vitamins and minerals that you, and your child need to feel energised and fuller for longer – keeping you away from the snack foods that simply spike your glucose levels and prep you for a sugar crash later on.
8. Get baby involved
While you can make the decision to begin a healthy lifestyle at any time, so many of us find it’s a choice to make later in life (post college, family, etc.). Start your wee ones off young by getting them involved and a part of your lifestyle changes. Including them in some way, even if they’re just watching as you stretch, makes them feel like they are part of a routine, meaning you’ll be more likely to keep it up and include them as they grow and are able to begin participating. Setting them up with healthy food and exercise basics from the start will set you both on a journey that you can take together.
9. Stay hydrated
This is a universal fitness tip, but it’s nonetheless important for new mums as well, especially if breastfeeding. Sleep deprivation, which may mean more coffee, is a surefire ticket to dehydration. Keep a water bottle on you at all times and set yourself goals to drink a certain amount of water every hour or by certain times of the day to make sure you keep your hydration levels up.
10. Mix it up
Variety is the spice of life, after all! One exercise routine won’t work for everyone, so it’s important to do things that you enjoy as this will likely lead to you doing them more often! The main focus is on your health, so as long as you’re taking yours and your baby’s health into consideration first, the activities you do to reach your goals are up to you! Mixing up your routine will also keep your interest piqued and give you more of a desire to keep going by not getting bored with the same old string of exercises.
At the end of the day, it’s your physical and mental wellbeing that are the most important during your post pregnancy fitness journey. Do your best not to focus on the number on the scale or reaching that “pre-pregnancy weight”. Find what feels good and what makes you happy and you’ll never feel like it’s hard work. You’ll feel better, set a better example for your family, particularly your new baby and hopefully reach a place in which you are content. Good luck and remember not to simply focus on the end result, find enjoyment in the routine and you’ll be more likely to stick with it!