Monday, August 30, 2010

Exercise after a baby - where to start

Firstly I wanted to say thank you to Biz who has just finished up her BBB blogging journey and is looking absolutely fantastic - she certainly is an inspiration to us all.  And also to Alison who's daughter, Zara, is approaching her first birthday.  After a number of ups and downs and changes Alison is re assessing her goals  and planning how to make exercise a constant part of her life.  The exercise journey is full of ups and downs especially when you add children to the equation but it is really important that you take the time and set it aside to look after yourself - mum is so so important and you have to feel good both inside and out, you most certainly deserve it!

So, you have had a baby and you are starting to think about what you should do, when and how.  Firstly, the most important thing to remember about this phase in your life, whether it be your first child or your third is to listen to your body.  If something doesn't feel quite right then it probably isn't - you are going through a rebuilding phase, a rehabilitation phase to an extent and you must take your time.  That is not to say that you can't train well and effectively once you are ready.

First up - get your 6-8 week check up.  Go to back to your care provider and just get the once over and make sure everything is okay.  If at 4-5 weeks you feel ready to start exercising again at a more intensive level than just walking or gentle pilates type exercise it would be wise to bring this check up forwards a little and just get clearance from your doctor or midwife but even then with their go ahead do remember it is early days and there is still a lot of 'stuff' going on with your body.

Then what?  Make sure you get assessed for any Abdominal separation.  Knowing whether you have Abdominal separation or not will guide you into your exercise routine - there are certain precautions you should take, certain exercises you should and shouldn't be doing so don't stay in the dark on this one do get checked out. To read more about Abdominal Separation click here.

I would then advise to start off with some pilates based exercise in order to rebuild your body from the inside out, keep in mind that not ALL pilates exercise is good for the postnatal period and it's important to get good advice from the right people.  You can read more about rebuilding from the inside out here

Head outside and start walking - walking is great way to get moving again and its great for getting you out of the house and for improving your mood - a crying or unsettled baby is often soothed by the motion of the pram and you get to escape your four walls!  Your Pelvic Floor is important to keep in mind - did you know that 1 in 4 women that ever had a baby will suffer incontinence and that's not 'just' after your baby.  I have spoken to women who five and ten YEARS later are still crossing their legs when they sneeze - not fun and just goes to show why it is so so important that you address this early on.  Don't get scared or embarrassed,make sure you speak to the appropriate health professional to help you to sort it out, it doesn't just go away on its own!  Read my blog post on pelvic floor at the Blackmores Wellbeing blog here.

So - we've been assessed for abdominal separation, we are taking care of our pelvic floor, got our doctors clearance, started rebuilding from the inside out and been out for a walk.....when you are ready to begin more strenuous exercise like hitting the gym you want to work in the most efficient way possible - as mums we are busy and we don't have time to waste wandering around or doing less than effective exercises.  My advice to you would be to concentrate on compound exercises -  these are exercises that involve more than one joint and more than one muscle group.  Think squat, lunge, push up, row, lat pull down, chin up and steer clear of your biceps curls and triceps push downs - yes these exercises have their place but not so much as a starting point in a busy mums workout.  The more compound exercises you use the more muscles you are working and the more energy you are burning - perfect!

My business Body Beyond Baby runs a Pelvic Floor and Core workshop in conjunction with a fantastic woman's health physio - the next one is coming up on the 26th of September and we still have some places available.  I cant recommend this workshop highly enough to anyone that had has a baby - we will be using real time ultrasound to assess your pelvic floor and transverse abdominal contractions and providing valuable information - for more information head to the BBB website.

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