Being a mum is a tough job, but the most rewarding! I also believe, ‘Happy Mum, Happy Family’! If you are feeling good about yourself, if you have more energy and if you are eating well, you are more likely to be happy in general, which will reflect on your baby/kids and your partner.
Before you start exercising again after having a baby make sure you:
- Get the OK from your obstetrician to ensure you are OK to exercise. You don’t want to rush back into it, if it means you will do long term damage. Take it easy to start with, walking will be your best friend – once you get into your groove, speed up a bit, go further and squeeze those butt cheeks on every step.
- Make sure you have a good, supportive sports bra. You will need it! Wear a few if you need too!
- Ensure you wear the correct footwear. You can’t expect to get results when wearing incorrect shoes. You won’t activate the right muscles and you won’t get as much out of the exercises. Back pain, knee pain hip pain etc, can sometimes be a cause of wearing the wrong shoes. Make the investment, so you can exercise properly and get the best results you can. Go get professionally fitted. It’s worth the investment.
- Make sure you keep your pelvic floors turned on and don’t forget to always pull your belly button back towards your spine and hold it there – ALL THE TIME, not just when you are exercising.
- Make sure you wear comfy clothes
- Getting back into exercise after you have had a baby is not something to be rushed into. You need to be ready both physically and mentally. Your body has changed A LOT. My body has changed shape, but I am fitter and healthier and actually weigh less than I did before getting pregnant. (N.B. I never weigh myself, but I did it to prove a point that you can be lighter, fitter and healthier after having a baby!)
- Make sure you have a bottle of water with you to stay hydrated
- Wear sunscreen & a hat (sun hat or beanie, depending on the weather!)
- Have fun, if you have the kids with you, make it a game!
- But most importantly, LISTEN TO YOUR BODY.
- It’s not just all about exercise, it’s about what you are putting on your mouth as well. If you are eating the wrong foods, you won’t lose weight.
- Remember, it took 9 months to put the weight on, it’s not all going to fall off straight away, give it some time.
How can exercise help?
- Give you more energy
- Help you work your way back to your pre baby body
- Be incidental – at home, out & about, even with the kids
- Be a great stress reliever
- Give you Vitamin D, fresh air and a clearer head if you are doing it outside
Even if you aren’t ready to exercise there is 1 muscle that you NEED to exercise and it can be done anywhere – It’s your PELVIC FLOOR MUSCLES.
Your pelvic floor muscles form a sling like muscle and fibrous tissue that attach to your pubic bone at the front and your tailbone at the back. The pelvic floor muscles help to support your pelvic organs – your bladder, uterus and rectum.
If you have weak pelvic floor muscles, you might:
- Have a bit of leakage when you cough, sneeze or laugh
- Have trouble stopping ‘passing wind’
- Feel like you can’t hold on when you need to go to the loo
- Have to rush to the toilet for fear of having an accident
- Have a heavy feeling or dragging in the vagina
- Have reduced sensation during sex
Why might you have weak pelvic floor muscles?
- Your muscles and fibrous tissues have stretched during pregnancy and childbirth
- You are lifting heavy things incorrectly
- You may have experienced constipation in the past and were straining when going to the toilet
- Because you are overweight
- You have a persistent cough or sneezing
- Your hormone levels changed during pregnancy or menopause.
But don’t worry, you can strengthen your pelvic floor muscles…
Imagine that you are trying to stop yourself from passing wind and tighten the muscles around your rectum. Now imagine you are trying to stop the flow of wee, or stop a tampon slipping out, and tighten/squeeze those muscles. The feeling is a ‘squeeze and lift’. These are your pelvic floor muscles.
Make sure you DON’T
- Hold your breath
- Bear down
Here are some pelvic floor exercises you can do ANYWHERE. You can do them while sitting down (if you are breastfeeding it’s the perfect exercise to do whilst feeding), standing in the line at the supermarket, driving in the car, lying down readying a book or watching TV, watching the kids at the park – the list is endless, just remember you can do them anywhere and no-one will know!
Below is just a guide, so if you are having trouble with these exercises or worried about your pelvic floor muscles, it would be best to see a Physiotherapist that specialises in pelvic floor rehab.
1. Squeeze and lift your pelvic floor muscles and hold tight for up to 10 seconds. Hold the contraction strongly as you count. You may find that if you are just starting out, you can only hold for a few seconds, that is OK, just build it up.
2. Rest for 5 seconds, then squeeze and lift again. How many can you do? Repeat this 5-10 times. Or more if you can. This tells you about the endurance of your pelvic floor muscles. It is also important for our muscles to be able to tighten quickly, when we cough or sneeze.
3. Now do some short, fast contractions. Squeeze and lift, then release. Repeat 10 times.
Amanda is a mum to 18 month old Chelsea, a Personal Trainer and owns her own Women’s Only Outdoor Fitness Business, Blue Sky Health & Fitness, based in Melbourne. Blue Sky Fitness offers Women of all ages, sizes and abilities a supportive & friendly environment in which to get fit, get healthy & be happy (but it’s also challenging!) Amanda has recently launched a Healthy Lifestyle eBook Series to help women all over the country lose weight, tone up & feel great about themselves. For more information on Blue Sky Health & Fitness, please visit www.blueskyfitness.com.au