Sunday, October 27, 2013

Six fitness tips for new mums

Personal trainer and mum Michelle Wright shares her top tips for postnatal mums.

Six fitness tips for new mums
To safely exercise in the first three months after birth, it is a good idea to pretend you are still pregnant. In terms of hormones, you almost are. Your body still has the hormone relaxin floating around, which loosens your joints and ligaments. This means you still have to take extra care not to over-stretch, especially through the pelvis.

Your pelvic floor might be feeling particularly weak and another issue to be aware of is carpal tunnel syndrome. Breastfeeding may be taxing on your upper back and sleep deprivation may make the whole situation seem a lot harder than you imagined.

The best exercises during the first few months are similar to what you could manage during the last months of pregnancy.

Activate your pelvic floor

Regardless of whether you are breast- or bottle-feeding, this is a time when you are sitting still and it therefore allows you to concentrate on activating the pelvic floor, then gently drawing in the lower abdominals.

Think about posture

Use pillows to bring baby closer to your breast or the bottle, rather than leaning over as this causes the upper back to be stretched and the muscles in the chest to contract. If you are putting baby on your hip, try to swap hips. If pushing the pram, adjust it so you can stand tall. Finally, think about standing so you lift your breasts up off your chest and connect with the muscles in your upper back.

Walk with the pram

This is a great way to get your body back into shape. There are often lots of appointments in the early days with a baby, so try to schedule them so you can walk there and back. When walking, focus on your pelvic floor and posture. Walking tall also allows more oxygen to enter your diaphragm.


Adequate rest allows the muscles to heal. If you are offered help with the baby, take it! Assess what is really important - the washing or a nap. If your body is repaired you will be able to achieve a lot more in the long run.

Visit a women's health physiotherapist

We take our car in for a service yet we quibble over spending money on ourselves. If you are unsure if you are contracting your pelvic floor correctly, find a women's health physio that offers real-time ultrasound. They will be able to show you how to correctly contract your pelvic floor on screen.

Avoid crunches

These are not the way to a flat belly. You also need to make sure you don't have diastasis (a gap between the two pelvic bones). If you are unsure, ask a midwife, fitness professional or women's health physio to show you how to check. The best exercises for a flat belly are pelvic floor exercises, which contract the transverse abdominis.

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