We are really excited to introduce a series of posts on health, fitness and diet from professionals in the field of pregnancy and post pregnancy. Check back in to small & me for fortnightly health posts that we will post on Thursday evening - we're kicking off this week with advice from Anna O'Hare, a fitness and nutrition coach, about how to start getting back into exercise after giving birth - and she's even given us a fun workout to start things off! Here's what Anna says:
"Beginning or increasing exercise should be done gradually and at a pace that feels appropriate to the individual. Never feel under any pressure to be ‘back in shape’! Where you are now is perfect - it is where you need to be for this phase of your life. Your body is an absolutely mystifying creation that has undergone some pretty remarkable stuff. So let’s take a pause and a few breaths to respect and appreciate it!
Remember that self-care and positive self-talk is extremely powerful. Exercise is something we can use in a loving way to give our body what it needs; endorphins can make you feel great and your energy can soar even with minimal exercise. Play, release and movement can really help people, especially new mothers, and there are many post-natal classes that welcome babies too - you can even use exercise as a bonding activity.
Light exercise, such as gentle walking, can usually be resumed as soon as you feel able. It should always be discussed with your doctor first, but extending your workout can normally begin after your 6 week post-natal check-up.
Outlined below are some exercises you can do to get things moving again. This is a time for you to be conscious and aware of yourself. Keep your breaths natural all the time.
I have formatted this routine as your first exercise session, with the concept of being outdoors but it can be modified for indoors as well. I've outlined four rounds of five different exercises - but just do what you can. Listen to your body, and if you are feeling tired, do less rounds; likewise add a few reps on days when you have good energy. It’s your exercise and your choice!
A: Warm up! I suggest some mobility exercises - hip circles, arm rotations, leg extensions, T-Spine rotations, downward dogs.
B: main exercise 5 exercises and 4 Rounds:
- Walking lunges with the buggy 20 steps forward and back down a path. (if indoors, static lunging on the spot is fine)
- Baby on a mat: modified press ups to kiss the baby’s nose: 15 reps
- With your baby in your arms: squats 20 reps
- Lying on your back: baby sitting on mother’s pelvis: squeeze your butt and lift up into glute bridge then slowly back to the floor for 20 reps.
- Lying on your back: Lift and bend the knees with baby lying on your shins. Lower Abdominal curl by squeezing your abs to bring your pelvis in towards your rib cage and slowly back. Keep control.
C: Finish with total body stretching; take a few minutes to listen to the conversation with your breath, and relax with the baby.
Always remember: be mindful of yourself and what feels good. There is never any pressure to be of a standard that anyone else sees fit - because they aren’t you! Every pregnancy and person is different and therefore comparison is completely redundant. This is your own journey through life. Honour what your body needs by nourishing yourself with good whole foods, rest and movement that allows your energy to flow freely."
Anna O'Hare is a fitness and nutrition coach, currently completing a BSc in Physiotherapy. She is available for personal and group sessions and can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org