What exercises should a postnatal fitness programme include?

mumbabyexerciseSo you just had your 6-8 weeks postnatal check up with your GP, who gave you the green light to exercise. Or you had a C-section and now that you are 12 weeks postnatal, you want to get back into a training routine. You have certain fitness goals, e.g. lose baby weight, improve your abs, work on your posture, but what exercises are safe and effective, and what exercises should be avoided? As a trainer specialized in pre and postnatal fitness, I highly recommend a programme that is specficially designed for new mums. A good postnatal programme should contain the following components:

A good warm up:

This is essential in all training programmes, to warm up the muscles, joints, and slowing increasing the heart rate. This is especially important for postnatal women as body is still recovering, and a slightly longer warm up period is required.

Strength training:

Lower body strength training – glutes and legs

The glutes (butt muscles) are often weakened during pregnancy, as the pelvis tips forwards to allow the baby bump to expand. By strengthening the glutes, the pelvis becomes more stable. This in turn means butt muscles become more toned, pregnancy posture fixed, and the strength makes everyday tasks easier.

Exercises for the legs and glute are wonderful. Not only these muscles become more toned and change the shape of your legs and bum, they are also large muscle groups which burn a lot of calories! And big calorie burn means fat loss – which happens in your entire body. My favourite lower body exercises are the squats and lunges.

Upper body strength training – shoulders, chest, back and arms

Strengthening the upper body is essential for any new mum. During pregnancy and breastfeeding, the bump of the baby and the weight of the breasts shift the centre of gravity forwards, causing the shoulders round slightly. Working on the shoulders and chest will help correct the new mum posture, allowing you to tone your shoulders and chest and stand up tall.

Strong upper back and arms are just as important. Mums use a lot of their upper body to carry out every day tasks: bending down and lifting the baby / toddler, pushing the pram, feeding the baby, changing nappies, bending down again to clean and tidy up the room, stretch up high to reach things in the cupboard, and sometimes holding a toddler in one hand while carring shopping in the other. Having good upper body strength will certainly make these tasks more effortless. Continue reading

Top 10 tips on post-natal exercise

Are you mum-to-be who is planning ahead on losing baby weight after baby is born? Or are you a new mum who is keen on getting fit ?

Here are 10 tips which might help you get started.

1.  Get the all-clear from your GP at your post-natal check up. This is usually 6-8 weeks after a vaginal birth and 12 weeks after a C-section.

2. Listen to your body and adjust the intensity of the workout accordingly.  Some days you might feel you are up for a challenge, and some days you might feel a bit drained, perhaps due to lack of sleep. When you are tired, you are more prone to injury. The best thing to do is to stick to the workout, but lower the intensity, and aim to feel better and more energized after the workout.

3. Drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise. It is important to stay hydrated, especially if you are breastfeeding.

4. Wear a supportive sports bra.  If you are breastfeeding, make sure you use nursing pads during a workout as arm movements may promote milk flow.

5. Exercise your pelvic floor muscles reguarly.  If you have weak pelvic floor, focus on strengthening these muscles and avoid plyometric moves, jumping, or anything that puts pressure on the pelvic floor.

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