Pregnancy is a tumultuous time for any woman – your body changes completely during pregnancy, and after pregnancy, your body will continue to change with the demands of motherhood and breastfeeding.
Because of this, it is important for you to adjust your post pregnancy exercise routine in order to accommodate your changing body and also to support you throughout the process of new motherhood.
Throughout pregnancy, your weight will fluctuate and settle in new places – for example, you’ll put weight on in your tummy area, on your breasts, on your hips and in numerous other places. Your pelvic floor and core muscles will also become weakened during pregnancy, so it is important that you exercise in order to strengthen those muscles – and you can read more about the pelvic floor and things you can do to strengthen it here.
The Benefits of Pilates and Yoga Post Pregnancy
Pilates is a gentle, joint and weight bearing exercise that can really improve your body awareness. Being more aware of your body enables you to be more in tune with you and your baby’s movements, and you’ll also be more aware of when you are feeling a little tired, down or just worn out – which means that you’ll be able to stop before you get too overwhelmed.
It also helps to strengthen your core muscles, strengthening your stabilising muscles and bringing your muscles into balance. A stronger core means that you’ll be fitter, stronger and more able to cope with the new postural movements that motherhood brings, such as stooping, balancing a baby on one hip and bending over to move baby items.
A healthy pelvic floor is very important during labour – the ability to relax your pelvic floor, as well as tighten it, will help to make the birth easier.
Exercises such as yoga and Pilates will also give you a renewed connection between your body and mind – and this connection can help you to become more relaxed, enabling you to easily combat the stresses of motherhood, such as lack of sleep, a new set of priorities and a changing set of demands. Yoga helps to keep you supple, too, which in turn will enable you to exercise more easily, as well as move around more easily. This connection between mind, body and exercise can really help you to relax whilst also enabling you to feel calmer and more centred.
If you’re able to tune out each day, just for a little while, taking a little time to relax, you’ll have a sacred time and space for yourself away from the demands of motherhood – which will help you to feel happier and more content, and more able to cope with being a new mum. And below are some easy exercises you can do in the comfort of your own home:
Pelvic floor exercises
Exercises for the core
The Superman exercise
Can I Benefit from Other Exercises?
If you’re able to, it would be a good idea to get involved in other exercises. One of the best exercises for a new mum is walking – it will help to strengthen and tone your lower body, burn off calories and burn off fat – and because it is weight bearing and joint bearing, you don’t need to worry about it having a detrimental effect on your body.
An excellent benefit of walking, especially for a new mum, is the fact that you’ll get outdoors and connect with the outside world. If you go walking with a partner or a friend, you’ll also have the chance to reconnect with someone of your age – and walking with someone else means that you’ll be much more likely to stick with it as a routine. If you increase the intensity of your walks, you’ll also get a boost to your cardiovascular system – which will reduce your risk of certain diseases such as heart disease and stroke.
You can up the intensity of your exercise if you feel able and if your doctor says that you are fit and healthy enough to exercise. Try jogging, running, aerobics, step classes, light weight training etc. to tone up and get stronger and healthier.
A new baby is a joy and you should enjoy the time that you have with your baby – so you shouldn’t rush into doing hours and hours of exercise. Instead, try to include little bursts of activity into your daily routine, because this will help to strengthen and support your body without you overdoing it.
To get back into exercise, approach it slowly – add ten minutes into your routine when you have time. Then, increase the number of times you exercise per week. Add an extra five minutes here and there, then another five minutes and so on until you reach a routine that you feel comfortable with. You’ll miss days here and there due to the demands of looking after a baby – but don’t worry about it! You’ll get there, it will just take some time.
Exercise is something that should be enjoyed, not endured, especially after having a baby. Enjoy the time with your baby instead of stressing out about losing your baby weight as soon as possible.