Getting back into shape after having a baby!

One of my colleagues has recently had a baby and said that I, and my blog, was an inspiration to her to try and get her back into getting fit again. That was nice of her. 😀  I am by no means an expert in this area… I don’t have children and have lots of free time, but I know plenty of Mums who juggle family, work, homelife and exercise (and everything else!) together.

So this blog post is for you AC x I hope it helps.

Getting back into shape after having a baby!

You’ve just given birth to a beautiful new baby and whether it was baby number one or baby number six, your body and your life have been through a huge adjustment. Nothing like post pregnancy fitness to enhance your experience and improve your health and fitness.

Here are some of the questions and answers regarding post pregnancy exercise:

Why post pregnancy exercise?

Do you have the postnatal blues? Lack of sleep, screaming baby, exploding stinky nappies and all the other changes in life no doubt have you feeling a little exhausted and overwhelmed.

Getting in a little post pregnancy exercise can help you gain a little control at least for those few minutes a day. And it’s important to take care of yourself, especially at this time. In fact taking care of yourself will also enable you to be a better mother.

Post pregnancy exercise has short and long term affects. Short term, getting in a good workout, even if just for 20 minutes will make you feel amazing and give you more energy to get through the day no matter how exhausted you were to begin with. It will even help you sleep better in those few hours of sleep your baby allows you.

In the long term, it will help you lose that pregnancy weight and get you feeling good about yourself.

So let’s get started!

How do I fit post pregnancy exercise into my topsy-turvy new life?

Accept help from others. It’s in the nature of Mums to want to be superwoman and get everything done ourselves. Accepting help so you can get in a little ‘you time’ will only make you stronger and enhance your super powers.

A few minutes a day of post pregnancy exercise is better than nothing. If all you can get in is ten minutes, make the most of those ten minutes. It will make a difference.

If your baby likes to be held, include your baby in your exercise. Put on some music and let your baby watch your exercise, or try some exercise you can do while you are holding your baby.

When can I start my post pregnancy exercise?

Some Mums are out running again two-four weeks after they had their babies. Some take up to 6-12 months to get back into exercising.  It all depends on your lifestyle and how much support you have available.  It’s important to remember that it isn’t recommended to do any form of exercise other than going for a nice, daily walk until you get your six week check up with your doctor or midwife gives you the ok.  It’s just not worth over doing it until you are fully recovered.  If you do go out too soon and end up overdoing it, you will only prolong your recovery period.

Exercises During PregnancyListen to your body. Your body has probably been through way more than you even realise, so listen to your body. You super-powers will come back, just give them time.

Once you have had your six-week checkup and you are feeling ok, not having cramps or feeling light headed and dizzy, you are ready to start an exercise plan.

I’ve set up a 20 week plan on how to get back into exercise here.  Be careful and take it all in your own time.  Check with your GP to make sure it’s ok for you to start exercising again.

What are some good post pregnancy exercises to start with?

Running or Walking with a Jogging Stroller

Woman running with her baby in a pram (file picture)A top post pregnancy exercise recommendation would be getting a jogging stroller and pushing your baby in it.  You can walk or run: in the park, to the post office, to the shops, around the local streets…the possibilities are endless.  You can encorporate it in your every day activities with your family.  If you don’t want to run, just walk.  Get yourself and your kid(s) out once a day for some fresh air and exercise.  Take them to the park, to the shops, get out and about.

It’s a great way to spend time with your baby, get some exercise for you and some much needed fresh air and sunshine for both of you.  And babies usually love being pushed in the stroller.

Dancing

Do you have one of those babies that isn’t happy unless he or she is moving all the time? How about turning on some really good music and dancing around with your baby. You can even get a dance workout DVD and workout with your baby.

Pilates

Pilates is a great full body workout which focuses on your core.  You want to have a nice space to be able to lie down on the floor in front of your TV or computer so you can watch the DVD and do the exercises. You also want to have a good, thick Pilates or yoga mat.

Stair Climbing

Do you have stairs in your house or flats? Try walking or running up and down the stairs.

The options are endless, the main thing you should try and do is to fit exercise into your daily routine if you can.  It’s doesn’t need to be a lot, just make it routine.  You can do it with your baby, or you can try and set aside some ‘you time’ where you exercise on your own or with friends.

Other options

Try: Walking, running, cycling (gym or outdoors), spinning, swimming, DVD workouts – Davina has a good one I beleive?, Gym classes (Body Pump, Circuits, Kettlebell classes).

How do I get started with my postnatal fitness?

The important thing is not to overdo it too soon. Start slow. Start with ten minutes a day of moderate exercise.  Add five minutes a week of moderate exercise until you are able to do 30 minutes at a time of moderate exercise.

Your body will tell you if you are overdoing it, so pay attention. If at any point, it feels like too much, take it back a notch. Go back to doing 10 minutes a day until you are ready to add more time, or exercise with less exertion. All in good time! Make sure you take enough rest days! (2-4 a week when starting off, then down to 1-2 as you feel comfortable training).

X dance cardioA recommendation for a basic exercise plan would be three days a week of cardio, two or three days a week of strength training and one or two days off. Running, dancing, spinning or swimming would be good examples of cardio.

Pilates and Circuits are great full body workout to do on the strength training days and will help make you stronger, and whip that booty back into shape.

Example week (fit in on days where you have childcare / support from your partner, or do it with your baby in the stroller):

MON Short walk/run
TUE DVD workout / Gym Class (Circuits/Body Pump/Spin)
WED Medium walk/run
THU DVD workout / Gym Class or Swim
FRI Rest
SAT Long walk/run
SUN Rest

See my 20 week plan on how to get back into exercise here.

A good way to keep motivation levels up is to walk/run with friends… arrange a day (or more) a week where you go for a walk with a friend, or different friends.  You’ll get good chat and feel great after it. And arranging to meet someone will mean you are less likely to back out!

Make it a routine

Find it hard getting out with the baby, the stroller, the changing bag, your stuff?  Make it a routine.  If you walk or run with your baby in the stroller, aim to be out the door by a particular time in the day.  Even if you’re just out for 10 minutes, it’s worth it. Do it most days and you’ll become quicker at getting everything ready to go. Your baby will get into the routine as well and you will both hopefully look forward to it.

The most important thing to remember is that you are not alone.  There are lots of support groups to help you get back into shape and feeling great. Check online for blogs of mum’s who run and manage to fit running / exercise into their hectic lives … Check out any beginner tips on this blog and meet up with and exercise with friends and other mums who are in the same boat as you. You can do it. 🙂

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