Regardless of age, body shape, or fitness level, all women experience incredible changes during pregnancy and early motherhood.
A balanced exercise regime that includes strength and flexibility training (both before and after bub comes along) can help you prepare for and manage these changes, improve your mood, and give you more energy.
No, unfortunately rocking the baby doesn’t count.
So, how do you get back into shape after birth, and how long should you wait before you start exercising?
When you can return to exercise really depends on how fit you were when you had your baby, and whether the birth went smoothly.
If you were fit and active right up until the birth, and your labour was hassle-free, you could begin some light stretching relatively soon, but it’s recommended that you wait until your six-week postnatal check-up before returning to the gym.
Even then, it’s important to leave the sit-ups, running and aerobic cardio until after your pelvic floor has recovered. Participating in high-impact exercise too soon after childbirth can actually further reduce your pelvic muscle strength.
If you didn’t exercise much before, or experienced any complications during the birth, you’ll want to take things a little more gradually again. When you feel up to it, take your bub out for walks in the pram, and as your strength returns you can begin to increase the distance and speed. But, don't overdo it. Be sure to pace yourself and rest when you need to.
Going too hard, too soon, can not only lengthen the time needed for your body to recover, but can actually cause longer term issues such as back pain or incontinence.
Virgin Active Personal Trainer, Jaime Lake-O'Dea, says regardless of fitness level, it’s important not to do anything ‘too full on too early’.
‘Just be mindful. You’ve just had a big pretty traumatic experience physically, so you need to listen to your body.’
Jaime’s advice is to focus on very light pelvic and abdominal workouts for a few weeks, before moving on to more advanced exercises. Once you’ve got the all clear from your obstetrician or GP, you’ll need to rebuild your fitness ‘from the inside-out’ and then build on those strong foundations.
Anyone worried about shifting the baby weight quickly should really place their focus on staying hydrated and eating a balanced diet. What your body really needs in those first weeks is time to recover from the birth. It’s important to allow yourself plenty of time to get back in shape after birth, and don't get too caught up the weight falling off immediately.
Aim for activities that ‘refill your cup’ rather than push you to the limit.
Hannah Shapley was hitting up the gym 4-5 times a week before falling pregnant with daughter Tala, and now at just 2 years old, Tala is a devoted Virgin Active member too.
‘During pregnancy I wanted to be really fit and I heard the recovery faze was going to be better the fitter you were so I kept it up I was still doing [Body] Pump right up to the end [with] lower weights toning it right down to my level at the time.'
Hannah’s decision to return to the gym at 6 weeks was as much for her general wellbeing as for shedding the baby weight.
Hannah Shapley and Tala at Virgin Active Frenchs Forest.
‘It’s such an all around the clock full time job. You’re running on empty half the time, so it’s good to have that time out, even if it means not doing any physical activity and just going and sitting in the spa or sauna and closing your eyes.’
Like mother, like daughter; Tala is already showing signs of becoming an active little human. She tears around outside on her various bicycles, and balances on her dad’s surfboard after he’s given it a wax.
‘She’s at that running around, into everything, toddler age, which is awesome, but exhausting.’
Hannah says if she doesn’t bring Tala to Virgin Active’s crèche facility, Club-V, she needs to incorporate something else to take its place so Tala can burn some toddler energy.
‘It’s really good for me. I know they’ve got her back and I can go do my thing. We’ve got to know the girls really well and trust them, and they all love Tala, so it’s good.’
Are you a new mum ready to get back into exercise?
Join us on Facebook LIVE @ 8pm Monday 15 May 2017 as we run through some super simple post-natal exercises that will help get back to feeling great after having a baby, and answering your questions live!
Like us @ Virgin Active French Forest to join!