By Jennifer Dawson
Most mums know the importance of doing exercise that strengthens the pelvic floor muscles after giving birth. They are also prepared for the length of time needed to get their bodies back to the way they were before pregnancy. It seems pretty reasonable to assume that if it takes nine months to make a baby that it will take at least the same amount of time to get muscles and fitness levels back into shape.
Aside from being careful to not over strain the body and engaging in a full-on exercise programme too fast, most mums need help trying to incorporate exercise into their new regime on a regular basis. Babies are demanding and it can be difficult to make time for exercise that adheres to a timetable, which is why it’s important to find ways of exercising that can be worked around you and your baby.
Exercise videos at home
Getting to an exercise class at the gym can be difficult for new mums because it means having to organise childcare on top of everything else. You also need your baby to follow a strict schedule so you can make it out of the house on time to get to the class on the same day every week. Meeting these kinds of demands, with a newborn baby in tow, is near on impossible.
An alternative is to work out at least one or two times a week at home by tuning into postnatal fitness videos online. You can fit 20 minutes of exercise around the sleeping and eating habits of your baby, without having to worry about childcare and gym membership costs. What’s more, the option always exists to invite new mums to exercise with you whenever baby permits.
Basic yoga asanas in the morning
There are many forms of yoga, from Hatha to Ashtanga, and many levels of difficulty. New mums don’t need to be pushing themselves to the limit. All that’s needed to help strengthen each muscle group is a gentle routine that combines a few basic yoga asanas that you can practice each morning before you get on with your day. One of the major benefits of yoga is that it provides a complete workout for the entire body.
If you place baby on a playmat beside you as you exercise, you can keep on eye on him and incorporate him into your regime at the same time. He’ll have so much fun that as he grows that it’s more than likely he’ll begin joining in with you as you train and help keep you and your exercise program on track.
Jogging with the buggy
If you have to go to the supermarket, or you just fancy getting out of the house for a little while, there’s nothing to stop you from jogging a little as you push your buggy. Particularly if you have a park to walk through nearby.
Not only do you get baby out of the house and give him something to look at, you also get to exercise a little, without overdoing things in the early months, and you don’t have to worry about finding someone to take care of your baby while you go out for a jog. It’s also important to remember that most babies enjoy being pushed around and so it’s probable that you’ll send him off into a sweet sleep as you train, which means you can enjoy a well-earned rest upon returning home.
Muscle strengthening and weight-lifting in the kitchen
A final tip would be to turn ordinary new-mum tasks into tiny, concentrated workouts that help rebuild muscle and tone up loose skin. You’re bound to have tins of soup and baked beans in the cupboards, so while you’re preparing a little lunch or putting the washing into the machine, take a minute to grab a can and put those tricep muscles to work. Just 15 repetitions on each arm every day should be enough in the early months. Once again, the advantage is being able to workout around your baby’s schedule and avoid the need for childcare by needing to go to a class in the early months.
The most important thing is to take things easy and to avoid putting pressure on yourself to get back to the way you were too quickly. It’s also never advisable to perform any kind of physical activity without first getting the all clear from your midwife, which is a routine postnatal checkup that is normally offered to new mums around six weeks after the birth.
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