One of the most important points to be aware of after you have had a baby is that your body is been through a major physical event and as such you need to give it time to recover before embarking on any kind of physical activity.
Unfortunately, the media seem to glamorise the celebrity post baby weight loss and it can put a lot of unrealistic pressure on women to do the same. But we should never compare ourselves to celebrities – they live a very different life to us, with a large support network on hand daily – such as 24/7 nannies, chefs, dieticians and personal trainers who all ensure that they have the time and energy to lose their weight.
The key point to note is that there is no woman should ever feel pressured to lose any weight – and this should be the case at any point in our lives – but especially so after having a baby where we can feel more self conscious about our post baby body.
If you are thinking about losing weight post baby, you should make sure that you feel 100% physically and emotionally ready to do so before embarking on any weight loss plan and when you are ready make sure you choose a safe and healthy eating plan – such as the Lose Baby Weight plans.
Having a baby brings a whole new set of priorities into your life and the last thing you need is pressure to look a certain way when you are sleep deprived, have hormones raging up and down, are recovering physically and are enjoying the special time bonding with your baby.
Instead, focus on healthy eating and nourishing your body with good foods and if you feel ready to exercise then try some gentle exercise such as walking which will also be a great opportunity to get some fresh air.
Top 5 tips for feeling shaping up post baby
- Don’t feel pressured. Only think about weight loss when you feel 100% ready – both physically and emotionally which could be more than a year after having your baby
- Eat more fruit and vegetables. Experiment with different vegetables and make big batches of meals so you can freeze meals to have when you are too tired to think. And make sure you have fruit to snack on for a healthy and nutritious snack
- Throw away junk. Get rid of the junk in your kitchen because if it is there – you will eat it – especially if you get peckish during night feeds. Instead stock up on healthy foods and snacks such as fruit, nuts, wholegrain crackers, yoghurts and raw vegetables.
- Make healthy food swaps. Swap white bread, pasta and rice for wholegrain varieties which are higher in fibre, are low GI and are full of nutrients. Swap beef mince to turkey mince. Swap sugary drinks for water and herbal teas.
Ready to do more exercise?
If you feel ready to start exercise, a great idea is to start from the stabilising muscles of your core, like your pelvic floor and transversus abdominis. Not only will that help you work back to stronger exercises but it will also protect you from any postural problems due to the strain of carrying around your newborn and often sitting in awkward positions.
Provided you don’t have muscle separation (see below on how to test), there is no reason why you shouldn’t start doing Pilates exercises to strengthen your core provided you stay in a neutral position with your spine and try not to activate the rectus abdominus – the six pack muscle that can separate during birth. So no crunches, but plenty of Hundreds – see our video here.
You can do some arm, leg and back work. Walking is also a great way to get your body back to some weight bearing exercise, get your cardiovascular system working and let the happy hormones flow as you get some fresh air. And you may find that as you start slowly with ten to twenty minute walking or Pilates breaks here and there, you’ll feel your motivation lift and you’ll be able to increase your intensity, length and frequency quite naturally.
We know it can be hard to make that first step towards exercise but it’s worth snatching ten minutes here and there when your baby is asleep. You’ll be a happier, healthier mummy for it.
To sum it up: start at the level that you left off and give yourself roughly the same amount of time post as pre pregnancy to ease back into exercise. Integrate Pilates and walking as soon as you feel ready and build up to anything that feels good or was on part of your routine before at a steady level. Any symptoms such as shakiness during ab work, bleeding after or during exercise, light headedness etc are a sign to back off. If you have specific exercise concerns, make sure you work with a qualified professional who can assess you on a one to one basis and always listen to your body.
Your core is more than just the six pack muscle we quite often refer to when we say someone has a ripped core.
In fact, this is the most superficial and perhaps least important muscle to strengthen when you’re looking to get a more functional core, cinch your waist in and tone up or let your separated abs heal. It’s also the muscle that separates – which is why doing sit-ups until the cows come home to help you lose weight would be a bad idea. It could make your rectus abdominus bulge, separating even more and is why you should avoid crunches and standard Pilates 100′s.
You should examine yourself to find out what degree of muscle separation you have experienced before undertaking any post partum-exercise (needs to be under 2cm) or receive clearance from your Doctor, Physiotherapist or Obstetrician.
Steps to examine yourself for muscle separation
- In a lying position with knees bent, place your right hand behind your head.
- With your left hand position your index finger and middle finger together and place them horizontally in the centreline of your stomach between your abdominals.
- From this position slowly raise your head slightly off the floor using your right hand (positioned behind your head) for support. Make sure not to simply lift your head with your hand as this is a common error – you must perform one basic crunch to fully contract your abdominal muscles to get the best assessment of your separation.
- Your abdominals will now be slightly contracting allowing you to see exactly how far your abdominals have separated.
- If your index finger and middle finger (on your left hand) can still fit between your abdominals you will have Diastasis Recti of between 2 – 2.5cms. For every additional finger you can place in between your abdominals you should add 1cm extra to your total abdominal separation number. If you can only fit one finger between your abdominals you effectively have 1cm of separation and will be nearly healed.
If you discover you have more than a 1 – 2cm separation you should refrain from doing exercises such as crunches, sit-ups or pilates 100′s all of which can put too much pressure on the abdominal muscles which have become separated during pregnancy.